Self-driving vehicles allowed on Kansas roadways; Gatik begin operations

May 20, 2022

Tyson Fisher

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Kansas is the latest state to allow self-driving vehicles on its public roadways, allowing autonomous delivery truck startup company Gatik to begin operations in the Sunflower State.

On May 13, Kanas Gov. Laura Kelly signed SB313 into law allowing self-driving vehicles to operate on public highways. Within a week of the signing, Mountain View, Calif.-based Gatik said it will begin operations in Kansas. Although Gatik will not comment on those operations, it worked with Walmart and other stakeholders to pass the legislation. Walmart is also using Gatik trucks for deliveries in Arkansas.

Founded in 2017, Gatik has a fleet of light- to medium-duty trucks, according to its website.

Gatik focuses on short-haul, business-to-business logistics for the retail industry.

“We are excited to bring our autonomous fleet to the state of Kansas, and ensure that the advantages of autonomous delivery on the middle mile can be realized by Kansans in the near term,” Richard Steiner, Gatik’s head of policy, said in a statement. “We applaud Gov. Kelly for taking a proactive approach to enabling the safe deployment of autonomous vehicles and look forward to laying down roots in the state of Kansas, creating a wealth of new jobs, and delivering essential goods to Kansans with speed and efficiency.”

According to the bill, a self-driving vehicle can operate in Kansas if it meets the following conditions:

  • Does not exceed 34,000 pounds on tandem axles. The provisions of this paragraph shall expire and have no effect on and after July 1, 2025.
  • Capable of achieving a minimal risk condition if a malfunction renders the automated driving system unable to perform.
  • In compliance with the applicable traffic and motor vehicle safety laws and regulations.
  • Certified to be in compliance with all applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards, including any reference to any exception granted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
State self-driving vehicle policy map
Map of states which permit fully driverless operations and autonomous vehicle testing. According to Gatik, Kansas is the 25th state to allow fully autonomous vehicles to operate on public roads. (Photo: Business Wire)

Kansas’ new law does not allow self-driving vehicles hauling hazardous materials to operate in the state.

Gatik’s timing is not coincidental. Along with Walmart, the startup company worked closely with stakeholders and state officials to develop and propose the new legislation. Those stakeholders include the Kansas Department of Transportation, the governor’s office, House and Senate leadership, and the Kansas Sheriff’s Association.

According to the company, Gatik will provide education and training sessions to law enforcement and first responders before beginning operations.

Walmart and Gatik proposed similar legislation in Arkansas. In 2020, the companies received the first approval ever granted by the Arkansas State Highway Commission to remove the safety driver from Gatik’s autonomous trucks, following the completion of 18 months of successful operations.

According to Gatik, Kansas is the 25th state to allow fully autonomous vehicles to operate on public roads. LL

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Tyson Fisher joined Land Line Magazine in March 2014. An award-winning journalist and tireless researcher, his news reports, features and blogs bring depth to our editorial content, backed with solid detail. Tyson is a lifelong Kansas Citian.