Our Partnerships in the Canadian Ecosystem: Teaming-Up with Top Universities and the Ontario Government
In January 2019 we decided to open the doors to our first Canadian office. In November 2020 we announced the launch of Canada’s first autonomous delivery fleet with the nation’s largest retailer, Loblaw, delivering goods from their automated picking facility to 5 retail locations in the Greater Toronto Area. This week, we’re announcing our partnerships with the Government of Ontario and two of Canada’s most prestigious universities — the University of Toronto and the University of Waterloo, as well as the launch of our new, state-of-the-art research facility in Toronto.
It’s safe to say there are plenty of reasons why we’re excited to be laying down roots in Canada.
So let’s get to it!
Our relationships with Canada’s academic sector are critical to our success — they give us the opportunity to recruit and work with the brightest minds in the business, and solve for some of the most complex technical challenges in our space. We’re committed to supporting customers by harnessing the finest homegrown AI, ML and Robotics talent in the country. We’ve teamed-up with the University of Toronto and the University of Waterloo to work on groundbreaking autonomous vehicle research with two of the most highly-regarded experts in their fields.
Professor Steven Waslander, Institute for Aerospace Studies, University of Toronto
Professor Steven Waslander, director of Toronto Robotics and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (TRAILab) at University of Toronto, is a leading authority on autonomous aerial and ground vehicles, including multirotor drones and autonomous driving vehicles. He founded and directed the Waterloo Autonomous Vehicle Laboratory (WAVELab), extending the state of the art in autonomous drones and autonomous driving through advances in localization and mapping, object detection and tracking, integrated planning and control methods and multi-robot coordination. His work on autonomous vehicles has resulted in the Autonomoose, the first autonomous vehicle created at a Canadian University to drive over 100 km on public roads.
With Prof. Waslander’s team, we’re making significant advances in long range perception including 3D object detection & tracking, novel fusion techniques, multi-res depth completion as well as addressing challenges that are imminent in inclement weather conditions like occlusions, sensor noise, etc.
Professor Krzysztof Czarnecki, Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, University of Waterloo
Professor Krzysztof Czarnecki leads the Waterloo Intelligent Systems Engineering (WISE) Laboratory at University of Waterloo and serves on SAE task forces on level of driving automation, reference architecture for automated driving systems, verification and validation, and maneuvers and behaviors. He co-lead the development of UW Autonomoose, Canada’s first self-driving research vehicle to be tested on public roads.
Our work with Prof. Czarnecki’s team focuses on evaluating cutting edge methods for driving style classification of surrounding road users to make fundamental advances in motion prediction of road agents, critical for active safety of autonomous vehicles.
The Government of Ontario and the Ontario Centre of Innovation
We’re proud to partner with the Government of Ontario’s Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network, led by the Ontario Centre of Innovation, the focus of which is to accelerate R&D efforts and winterize our proprietary autonomous driving technology. The work we’re undertaking is critical to test, measure and demonstrate the operational efficiencies generated by autonomous delivery adoption in the kind of inclement weather that Canada is famous for. Autonomous vehicles (and human drivers) are limited by vehicle capabilities to maneuver effectively in extreme weather conditions. However, thanks to our suite of multi-modal redundancies, our fleet of Autonomous Box Trucks is equipped to improve upon one of the biggest performance challenges of extreme weather: reliable perception of the surrounding environment. Operating our vehicles in Canada through winter conditions enables us to capture & test for unique driving conditions, gain a better understanding of how snow, rain & ice affects our vehicles’ movements, and continue to include varied weather conditions in our Operational Design Domain.
At Gatik, we’re customer obsessed, and the experience & data we’re gathering through our deployments in Canada gives us a very competitive edge for addressing the B2B short-haul logistics market in a diverse range of geographies across North America.
Our New Research Facility
Since arriving in Canada, we’ve led the way in autonomous middle mile delivery in the country — enhancing operational capacity, reducing costs and keeping delivery times short for our customers. Our new partnerships have led to new hires — more than 20 positions have been created as a direct result of our partnership with the Ontario Government, including R&D roles within our Engineering Division and Autonomous Vehicle Operator roles on our Operations Team. In order to house our rapidly growing team, in January 2021 we opened our new, 12,000 square foot research facility in the west end of Toronto. Think Bay Area industrial chic, high ceilings, space for 75 staff and ample room to house our fleet of Autonomous Box Trucks. There’s nothing quite like it in the city.
Ontario has long been at the forefront of disruptive technology, and thanks to the addition of a well-structured, safety-focused and progressive autonomous vehicle program, the environment in the province provides an ideal platform for deploying our solution to meet customer needs. Our strategic partnerships with the Government of Ontario, the University of Toronto and the University of Waterloo are accelerating the development and commercialization of our technology at a time when autonomous, contactless delivery is more important than ever.