October 19, 2022
Fully driverless deliveries have arrived in Canada, courtesy of Californian self-driving truck company Gatik and supermarket and pharmacy chain Loblaw.
The pair have worked together since 2020, successfully completing more than 150,000 autonomous deliveries – but each of these journeys has had safety operators behind the wheel.
Now, for the first time, the human presence in the driver’s seat has been removed, and Gatik is moving select online grocery orders for Loblaw’s PC Express shopping service, via a fleet of multi-temperature autonomous Ford Transit box trucks.
The trucks deliver full Level 4 functionality – defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers as when a vehicle can drive itself, without the need for driver intervention.
For the time being, though, a human monitor – termed a “remote supervisor” – will still travel in the passenger seat to allow interaction with, for example, law enforcement if necessary or to assist in unexpected scenarios. The presence of the remote supervisor is not a regulatory requirement, though.
The driverless trucks are operating 12 hours a day, seven days a week, on routes between a micro fulfillment center and a group of retail stores in the western Greater Toronto area. The service has already been subject to a successful third-party safety review, which assessed several different elements.
By operating autonomously, the trucks are enabling Loblaw to establish a more robust, sustainable supply chain, and David Markwell, the company’s chief technology and analytics officer, explained: “Working with Gatik, we’ve demonstrated that autonomous driving technology enables supply chain efficiency, moving more orders more frequently for our customers.
“Being the first in Canada with this technology and deploying a fully driverless solution is exciting and illustrates our commitment to making grocery shopping better for customers.”
“Canada is the latest market in which we’ve launched our fully driverless service, further validating that the tangible benefits of autonomous delivery are being realized first in B2B short-haul logistics,” said Gautam Narang, Gatik CEO and co-founder.
Founded in 2017, Gatik has expanded rapidly by facilitating frequent, point-to-point deliveries across the middle mile using purpose-built, proprietary, commercial-grade autonomous technology.
In 2021 it launched the world’s first fully driverless commercial delivery service in Bentonville, Arkansas with Walmart, and it also has partnerships with Georgia-Pacific to deliver to Sam’s Club stores in Texas and with shipping and mailing company Pitney Bowes.
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