Early next year, a fleet of autonomous vehicles will begin delivering multi-temperature goods from Loblaw’s automated picking facility to retail stores in the Greater Toronto Area—becoming Canada’s first autonomous delivery fleet.
The project, slated to begin in January, is the result of a multi-year partnership between Loblaw Companies Limited and Gatik, a company deploying autonomous vehicles for B2B short-haul middle-mile logistics, according to a news release.
Gatik recently completed a successful 10-month on-road pilot in Toronto that included one autonomous delivery vehicle. The Ford Transit 350 box trucks deployed for contactless deliveries feature refrigeration units, lift gates and Gatik’s proprietary autonomous driving software.
Gatik will operate five vehicles for Loblaw, making deliveries up to 7 days a week, 12 hours a day. The vehicles will travel along public roads using five different routes that take them to fixed pick-up and drop-off locations. All vehicles will have a safety driver.
“As more Canadians turn to online grocery shopping, we’ve looked at ways to make our supply chain more efficient. Middle-mile autonomous delivery is a great example,” Loblaw Digital’s Senior Vice President Lauren Steinberg said, according to the release. “With this initial roll-out in Toronto, we are able to move goods from our automated picking facility multiple times a day to keep pace with PC Express online grocery orders in stores around the city.”