In an effort to speed up its supply chain and keep up with growing ecommerce demand, Loblaw Companies Limited is deploying self-driving delivery vehicles to carry products to its stores.
Loblaw has announced a multi-year partnership with Silicon Valley's Gatik, a self-driving startup. The initiative follows a successful 10-month on-road pilot of the service in Toronto using one vehicle. Loblaw is not the first retailer to use the technology. Gatik has completed more than 30,000 orders for multiple customers in North America, including Walmart, but Loblaw is the first in Canada.
To meet Loblaw's needs, Gatik has added features to its Ford Transit 350 box trucks, including refrigeration units, lift gates and its proprietary autonomous self-driving software for urban, suburban and highway driving. Gatnik will be operating five of these vehicles for Loblaw up to seven days a week, 12 hours a day, operating on five routes. All of the vehicles have will have a safety driver as a co-pilot.
"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," says Lauren Steinberg, senior vice president, Loblaw Digital. "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."