One Canadian company is officially ditching delivery truck drivers and going fully autonomous.
- California-based autonomous driving startup Gatik AI Inc. announced it is removing drivers from its autonomous delivery trucks in Canada.
- The trucks will run on a seven-mile route delivering groceries to the country’s biggest retailer—Loblaw Companies Ltd.
- The delivery route runs from a Loblaw fulfillment center northwest of downtown Toronto to one of the company’s nearby Real Canadian Superstores with no passengers.
Why it’s important
Self-driving cars have been a topic of discussion for many years as car makers attempt to perfect autonomous software. Now the dream of self-driving cars is becoming a reality as companies develop the needed software.
Gatik is different from other self-driving companies. Instead of training its algorithms to handle any potential driving route in a defined area, the company is focused on short, static routes that delivery trucks repeat on a loop, according to Bloomberg writer Kyle Stock.
“This is the outcome of what we’ve been doing the last few years,” said Gatik CEO Gautam Narang. “Four-way intersections, bicyclists, pedestrians—the truck encounters all those things.”
Gatik engineers study a route for months before letting the autonomous vehicles loose, and they are able to structure a program that can determine which points might be difficult for the trucks.
While there is no human driver onboard the truck, there is someone assigned to each vehicle. That means if the truck gets itself into a hard situation it is programmed to safely pull over and call its assigned worker for help.
The news routes in Canada bring Gatik’s fleet to a little over 30 trucks, but the company expects to triple that number by 2024.
Others in the market
Gatik isn’t the only one in the autonomous car market.
Google recently announced its new test program has delivered more than 1 million pounds of Modelo and Corona beer between Texas cities with a new driverless vehicle.
The vehicles aren’t completely driverless—they operate with someone in the car monitoring the vehicle for now, but the company CEO thinks it could be fully autonomous in the near future.