loblaws self driving

Loblaw is rolling out self-driving delivery trucks in Toronto

Canada is about to get its first-ever fleet of autonomous grocery delivery vehicles courtesy of Loblaw Companies Ltd. and a California-based AI company that specializes in "middle mile" logistics.

Gatik, which has been "redefining B2B short-haul logistics" in Palo Alto since 2017, announced on Monday that it had inked a multi-year partnership with Canada's largest food retailer.

The deal will see what Gatik describes as "a fleet of autonomous delivery vehicles" deployed in Toronto beginning in January of 2021.

Now before you go celebrating the impending arrival of mobile robo-grocers, you should note that these vehicles won't be rolling up to any homes.

Rather, they'll transport goods from a Loblaw distribution centre to retail locations across the GTA, where shoppers can unknowingly buy stuff that's been transported by AI-enabled trucks.

Five autonomous vehicles in total will run seven days a week, 12 hours a day, along five routes operating on public roads with fixed pick-up and drop-off locations. A human "safety driver" will be onboard to supervise.

Apparently, they won't be the first of their kind to do this, either: Gatik says it just successfully completed "a 10-month on-road pilot in Toronto" with one of its trucks.

"Gatik will provide Loblaw with a safe, reliable, contactless delivery solution for transporting multi-temperature goods from its automated picking facility to retail locations across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA)," reads a release issued by the tech company on Monday.

"This deployment marks the first autonomous delivery fleet in Canada."

Gatik, which just secured another $25 million in Series A funding, already delivers groceries for Walmart in the U.S. and says it has "completed more than 30,000 revenue-generating autonomous orders for multiple customers across North America."

Next up, Toronto grocery stores... and then maybe even grocery store customers at home sweet home.

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