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Canadian Food Retailer Loblaw Goes Fully Driverless for Delivery

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Delivery for Loblaw Companies Limited, a Canadian pharmacy and food retailer, is getting a tech boost, implementing fully autonomous delivery with driverless, multi-temperature box trucks for select online orders through Loblaw’s PC Express service. 

The company has partnered with Gatik for the fully driverless launch following a successful partnership since January 2020. Since then, the company has transported more than 150,000 autonomous deliveries — with a safety driver on board and a 100% safety record. 

The company is launching without a safety driver in the vehicle — a first for Canadian markets.

[Read more: Amazon to Begin Drone Deliveries this Year]

The companies continue to strive for safety first, having completed a three-month review completed by a third-party commissioned by Loblaw. 

This assessment included reviewing the overall tech solution in addition to development, deployment, standards and regulatory compliance, risk assessment and evaluation of control measures, and physical testing of subsystems and vehicle levels. This includes testing with degraded/incorrect sensor data, jamming the GPS, inputting incorrect acceleration when objects are in front of the vehicle, and more. 

The review allowed the company to transport refrigerated and frozen goods throughout the week from Loblaw distribution centers to five local retail locations using “fixed, repetitive, predictable routes.”

By leveraging this technology, Loblaw can operate more routes and increase the frequency of trips, improving supply chain efficiency and sustainability. 

“Working with Gatik, we’ve demonstrated that autonomous driving technology enables supply chain efficiency, moving more orders more frequently for our customers,” said David Markwell, chief technology and analytics officer, Loblaw Companies Limited. “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.”

Gatik has implemented this driverless technology in other markets with large retailers such as Walmart. Last year, the retailer also removed the safety driver from the equation for its “middle-mile” delivery route in Arkansas, U.S.

“Through our work with Gatik, we’ve identified that autonomous box trucks offer an efficient, safe and sustainable solution for transporting goods on repeatable routes between our stores,” said Tom Ward, senior vice president of last mile at Walmart U.S., during the launch last year. “We’re thrilled to be working with Gatik to achieve this industry-first, driverless milestone in our home state of Arkansas and look forward to continuing to use this technology to serve Walmart customers with speed.”

[Read more: Walmart Steps Up Automated Store Distribution]

Gautam Narang, CEO and co-founder, Gatik, said this marks the expansion of Gatik’s autonomous delivery service to Loblaw’s customers across multiple sites. “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. It’s a privilege to achieve this commercial and technical landmark with Canada’s largest retailer.”

The technology currently supports B2B short-haul logistics, and Gatik points to the company’s structured autonomy for its unbroken safety record.



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