An autonomous delivery vehicle said to be the first in the UK is being used in London to transport medical supplies.
Dubbed Kar-go, it’s a self-driving delivery bot built by Academy of Robotics and using artificial intelligence and a specially developed package management system to provide contact-free delivery.
Developed with the help of funding from UK Research and Innovation, it’s already been used to transport medical supplies from a pharmacy to a care home in Hounslow, Greater London, including autonomous handover of the parcel – but complete with an onboard back-up driver in line with regulations.
However, the 60-mile range from its electric powertrain enables its use in rural areas as well as urban, providing an alternative to diesel delivery vans.
It’s focused on transporting smaller, shoe-boxed sized parcels – where delivery costs can account for a third of the cart value and put pressure on margins for both retailers and logistics companies – and is initially focused on semi-autonomous deliveries but will ramp up the level of autonomy.
William Sachiti, the founder of Academy of Robotics, said: “Kar-go’s first deliveries represent a key milestone for the wider automotive industry.
“We have been working closely with DfT’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV), BSI, TFL and our partners at Eurovia UK to ensure that safety is at the heart of everything we do and we are grateful for the support we have received.
“What makes Kar-go magical for me is that we applied artificial intelligence and robotics in a useful and good way.
“The technology is there when it is needed and out of the way when it isn’t.
“As complex as Kar-go is, its function is very simple. To me that is good and that is an AI-assisted future I would want to live in.”