Loblaw deploying self-driving vehicles across the ‘middle-mile’

Date : 23 November 2020

Loblaw is partnering with Gatik to deploy a fleet of autonomous delivery vehicles to transport goods from its automated picking facility to retail locations in Toronto.

Expanding 10-month pilot programme

Starting next January, this will build on a 10-month on-road pilot which has been underway in Toronto using one delivery vehicle. Gatik will upfit five Ford Transit 350 box trucks with refrigeration units, lift gates, and its proprietary autonomous self-driving software for urban, suburban and highway driving. All vehicles will have a safety driver as a co-pilot.

Source: Loblaw, Gatik

Servicing the middle-mile

They will operate out of Loblaw’s automated micro-fulfillment centre which has been developed in partnership with Takeoff Technologies. The vehicles will operate 7 days a week, 12 hours a day, across five with fixed pick-up and drop-off locations. Founded in 2017, Gatik has built a leading presence in the ‘middle-mile’ market, completing more than 30,000 revenue-generating autonomous orders for multiple customers across North America. Last year it partnered with Walmart in the US to move products between stores. Autonomous vehicles are particularly suited to these types of journeys, given that they are regular, known routes.

Improving grocery ecommerce profitability

Retailers are increasingly prioritising their efforts to improve the profitability of their online grocery operations. This has become more important given the accelerated growth the channel has experienced since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to self-driving vehicles and automated micro-fulfillment, retailers are also making incremental process improvements, developing new omni-store concepts, and investing in third-party marketplaces to improve the basket mix.

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