A trial of a fully autonomous electric-powered vehicle – dubbed the Cargopod – conducting last-mile deliveries for Ocado in Greenwich concludes on Monday (3 July).
The vehicle, which has a payload of 128kg and requires two employees to accompany it at all times, has delivered groceries to more than 100 customers so far. Its use, however, has been limited to the Royal Arsenal development in the London borough, which has no public highways.
It was developed in partnership with Oxford-based artificial intelligence firm Oxbotica, and is part of a trial led by Transport Research laboratory (TRL) and its Gateway project (standing for Greenwich Automated Transport Environment).
David Sharp, head of Ocado’s 10x department (Sharp explained its 10x department aims to make things “ten times better”), said the trial was designed to take autonomous commercial vehicle technology to the “edge of what is practical”.
He also explained that the technology behind the CargoPod – particularly its software platform Selenium – could be scaled up to larger commercial vehicles to improve the payload capacity.
Simon Tong, principal research scientist at TRL and technical lead for the Gateway project, added: “This trial with Ocado Technology provides an ideal platform to help us understand how and where these vehicles could best operate and whether people would accept, trust and like them as an automated delivery service in the city.
“We envisage that cities could benefit massively if deliveries could be made by quiet, zero emission, automated vehicles when congestion is minimal,” he said.
And here is a great video explaining how it works: