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Loblaw launches country’s first driverless food delivery trucks

The country’s largest retailer is teaming up with an autonomous vehicle company in what’s being billed as a first in Canada: transporting grocery delivery orders between various facilities using self-driving trucks.

It’s the latest step in a pilot program launched in 2020 in which trucks operated by Gatik, a market leader in autonomous middle mile logistics, transported various items between Loblaws distribution hubs and five retail locations across the Greater Toronto Area.

In logistics, the middle mile refers to the route between a company’s two locations, like between a warehouse and a store. As part of the pilot project, Loblaw Companies Limited and Gatik reportedly transported more than 150,000 autonomous deliveries with a safety driver on board with a 100 per cent safety record.

Following a third-party safety review commissioned by Loblaw, Gatik’s fleet transported ambient, refrigerated and frozen goods seven days a week from a Loblaw distribution facility to five nearby retail locations in the Greater Toronto Area on fixed, repetitive, predictable routes.

Loblaw says autonomous delivery will allow it to operate more routes and make more frequent trips, establishing a supply chain that’s safer, more sustainable and more resilient. “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,” says Chief Technology and Analytics Officer David Maxwell.

Gatik is based in California and focuses exclusively on facilitating frequent, point-to-point deliveries across the middle mile to maximize safety using proprietary, commercial-grade autonomous technology that’s purpose built for business to business (B2B) short-haul logistics.

“This milestone marks the expansion of Gatik’s autonomous delivery service to Loblaw’s customers across multiple sites,” says Gatik CEO and co-founder Gautam Narang. “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.”

Photo courtesy of Loblaw Companies Limited.

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