Loblaw’s driverless delivery trucks have hit GTA streets

Loblaw is rolling out driverless delivery trucks in what is believed to be a first in Canada. Richard Southern explains where you'll spot the autonomous vehicles, and an update on gas prices.

Driverless grocery trucks have officially hit GTA streets in what is believed to be a first in Canada.

Loblaw has partnered with American autonomous logistics company Gatik to introduce the country’s first self-driving delivery vehicles with the companies announcing Wednesday the trucks were ready to hit the road.

“Gatik’s fully driverless deployment represents the first time that an autonomous trucking company has removed the safety driver from a daily delivery route in Canada,” reads a release from Gatik. “Autonomous delivery enables Loblaw to operate more routes and make more frequent trips, establishing a supply chain that is safer, more sustainable and more resilient.”

The five refrigerated trucks will transport goods from a Loblaw distribution facility to five retail locations in the GTA using fixed routes. The vehicles will operate for 12 hours a day, seven days a week and Gatik says the self-driving software is designed for both urban and highway driving.

Loblaw's driverless trucks

It’s the latest step in a pilot project for the company that was launched in California in 2020. Loblaw says it conducted more than 150,000 autonomous trips with a safety driver since January 2020 without a single safety incident.

The vehicles supplied by Gatik underwent an extensive third-party review commissioned by Loblaw over a three month period. The assessment included sending incorrect sensor data, GPS jamming and incorrect acceleration with objects in the way.

“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 with Loblaw.

Although the driving is completely automated, the company still plans to have someone sitting in the passenger seat as a precaution for the time being.

Since 2019, any participants in Ontario’s automated vehicle pilot program have been allowed to test driverless cars on public roads under specific requirements. All vehicles must either have a passenger in the vehicle or an operator monitoring the vehicle remotely.

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