Canadian Autonomous Vehicle Company Gatik Prepares for Expansion Amid Major Retail Partnerships

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Gatik, an autonomous technology company deploying autonomous vehicles for B2B middle mile logistics, was recently awarded $997,706 in support through Ontario’s Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network’s (AVIN) R&D Partnership Fund, along with $8,000,000 in industry contribution, to winterize its autonomous driving technology.

Gatik has major retail partners such as Walmart and Loblaw. In late 2020, it expanded its retailer presence into Canada with a partnership in the Greater Toronto Area with Loblaw.

Sam Saad

Sam Saad, Head of Strategic Initiatives, said the company is customer focused and what it has been hearing from its grocery customers, particularly in Canada, is they want autonomous vehicles to be able to operate year round.

“The main part of what we’re doing is we’re working with the Ontario government and our customers to be able to develop made in Canada technology that allows autonomous vehicles to operate 365 days per year regardless of inclement weather,” said Saad.

“Autonomous vehicles offer the following benefits and consumers want these benefits every day of the year. They don’t want to pause on these benefits for any specific amount of time. And currently autonomous vehicles offer reliable service. They’re never late. They don’t get sick. And you know they’re going to show up on time.

“There are a lot of operational efficiencies linked with autonomous vehicles. Some cost reductions. But also they plug into existing transportation infrastructure quite smoothly so you get seamless integration across the entire transportation network. That includes on road and off road.

“Autonomous vehicles have been proven to be safer for all road users. So between increased reliability, increased operational efficiency and increased safety then our customers and their consumers are big fans of this technology.”

The Ontario government is helping Gatik winterize its proprietary autonomous driving technology, and accelerate R&D efforts to test, measure and demonstrate the operational efficiencies generated by autonomous delivery adoption. The funding and access to R&D resources is accelerating the development and commercialization of Gatik’s autonomous driving technology for deployment in Ontario’s cold weather conditions, at a time when autonomous, contactless delivery of essential items is more important than ever to Canadians.

Gatik autonomous vehicle outside Loblaws. Photo: Gatik

Gatik was founded in 2017 and has offices in Toronto and Palo Alto, California.

Gatik’s CEO and Co-Founder, Gautam Narang, said over 30 percent of global commercial vehicle operations take place in winter conditions and the company wants to serve this market.

Gautam Narang

“The operational experience and data gathered in Ontario gives us a strong understanding of how inclement weather affects our vehicles’ movements and gives us a competitive edge in the B2B short-haul logistics market across North America,” he said.

Saad said Gatik’s partnership currently with Loblaw consists of five vehicles operating up to 12 hours per day, seven days per week in the GTA, moving e-commerce goods between the microfulfilment centre and multiple retail locations – essentially enabling near real time fulfilment for customer goods.

“We’re very much looking at the broader market and scaling across the province and the country but at the moment we’re hyper focused on delivering for our current customer and also ensuring that we make the most out of this AVIN funding and after that we’ll make any decisions on expanding geographically or with other customers,” said Saad.

He said the appetite for grocery providers to adopt autonomous vehicles is very big.

“Gatik’s pioneering technology demonstrates the enormous potential of next generation vehicle technology in assisting businesses to manage their supply chains efficiently and safely, in all weather conditions,” said Vic Fedeli, Ontario Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. “We’re delighted that our Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network (AVIN) is spurring the growth of leading-edge auto-tech companies here in Ontario while strengthening our innovation ecosystem and helping our economy rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.

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