In Canada, the Financial Post reports that "for about two-and-a-half years, Loblaw has been working with Gatik Inc., an autonomous technology company based in Silicon Valley, to run a fleet of five driverless trucks guided by cameras, laser sensors and sonar.
"In that time, the trucks have completed 150,000 trips without safety issues or accidents, picking up online grocery orders at a fulfillment centre and dropping them off for customers at a handful of pickup points around the Toronto area."
For much of the time, "the trucks always had a human in the driver’s seat who could take control of the vehicle at any point." But now, "all five trucks are driving around Toronto, 12 hours a day, with an empty driver’s seat, which Loblaw said is a first for autonomous commercial delivery vehicles in Canada … The hope is that by next year, the trucks will run without any humans in them at all, making Loblaw’s e-commerce deliveries more efficient and less reliant on a tightening labour pool. There were 28,210 truck-driving job vacancies in the second quarter, up more than 50 per cent year over year, according to the latest Statistics Canada report."
The story notes that "the new fleet is focused on what’s known as the middle mile in logistics: transporting online orders from a fulfillment centre to stores and pickup locations, as opposed to long-haul trips transporting products from a manufacturer to Loblaw’s larger distribution warehouses, or the so-called last mile, delivering to homes.
"Loblaw and Gatik picked the middle mile because the routes are short and predictable, so the trucks can drive the same roads over and over, collecting data on traffic patterns and weather that can help guide future trips."
- KC's View:
Just another example of a trend that I think we're going to see playing out in a lot of communities moving forward. The thing is, I'm less worried about the technology in Canada than elsewhere … it being Canada, the trucks almost certainly be programmed to be exceptionally nice and polite.