Look out, there’s a fleet of green robot cars driving around Hounslow, and they’re delivering medicines. The Kar-go, developed by the British start-up, Academy of Robotics, will be the first custom-built autonomous delivery vehicle to travel on the roads in the UK.
The company has been working on the autonomous vehicle for the past four years, and while USA-based experiments with self-driving cars have focused on longer journeys, the Kar-go is aimed mainly at the last-mile delivery market.
To start its first trials on public roads, they’ve chosen Hounslow, and designed to offer a contact-free form of delivery, the company has chosen to make its first deliveries from pharmacies to care homes.
The Kar-go will be driving itself to and from the sender and recipient’s address, and a smartphone app will let the recipient that their parcel has arrived. It then performs a parcel hand-over autonomously using on-board robotics.
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The electric vehicles will drive themselves, but in this early stage, they will also be supervised by human operators sitting inside the vehicle.
The company says that it chose this area for the tests, as it is representative of a large section of semi-urban residential areas covering both an urban and residential environment.
The result is a number of bright green rather futuristic-looking vehicles driving around west London.
Later they plan to introduce deliveries from a depot to work sites for Hounslow Highways
A second trial is also due to take place in Banstead, Surrey.
Work on the Kar-go began in the Computer Science department in Aberystwyth University in Wales, and is now a private company with investors, as the Academy of Robotics.
PS – no, this is not the same as the Milton Keynes system, they are totally different.