Gatik’s self-driving box trucks to shuttle groceries for Loblaw in Canada

Gatik, the autonomous vehicle startup focused on the “middle mile,” is already using its self-driving box trucks to deliver customer online grocery orders for Walmart. Now, the company — freshly stocked with $25 million in Series A funding — is expanding up into Canada with a partnership with retail giant Loblaw.

Gatik said Monday that five autonomous box trucks in Toronto will be used to deliver goods for Loblaw starting in January 2021. The fleet will be used seven days a week on five routes along public roads. All vehicles will have a safety driver as a co-pilot. This deployment, which follows a 10-month pilot in the Toronto area, marks the first autonomous delivery fleet in Canada.

“As more Canadians turn to online grocery shopping, we’ve looked at ways to make our supply chain more efficient. Middle-mile autonomous delivery is a great example,” Loblaw Digital senior vice president Lauren Steinberg said in a statement. “With this initial rollout in Toronto, we are able to move goods from our automated picking facility multiple times a day to keep pace with PC Express online grocery orders in stores around the city.”

Unlike other autonomous delivery companies, Gatik isn’t targeting consumers. Instead, the startup is using its autonomous trucks to shuttle groceries and other goods from large distribution centers to retail locations. For Loblaw, the company will equip Ford Transit 350 box trucks with refrigeration units, lift gates and its autonomous self-driving software.

“Retailers know the biggest inefficiencies in their logistics operations often exist in the middle-mile, typically between automated picking facilities and retail locations,” Gatik CEO and co-founder Gautam Narang said in a statement. “This is where Gatik lives and succeeds, and is the reason we’re able to offer immediate value to our customers. We are delighted to partner with Loblaw in addressing this critical piece of their supply chain.”

Gatik’s “middle mile” B2B focus has attracted customers like Walmart, as well as investors, including Wittington Ventures and Innovation Endeavors, which co-led the company’s Series A round. FM Capital and Intact Ventures, along with existing investors Dynamo Ventures, Fontinalis Partners and AngelPad also participated in the round that was announced alongside the Loblaw partnership. Gatik has raised $29.5 million to date.

The company said it plans to use the funding to build out operations across North America and hire more employees at its Palo Alto, California and Toronto facilities. Narang said Gatik is also pushing to expand its retail partnerships and fleet deployments.

“Throughout the year we saw an increase of 30% to 35% in orders from our customer base, and we expect this trend to continue,” Narang said. “We will continue to bring autonomous delivery into the mainstream, driving substantial efficiencies in supply chain logistics for retailers across North America and beyond.”

Gatik said it has completed more than 30,000 revenue-generating autonomous orders for multiple customers across North America.