As posted on Driverless vans will now deliver groceries in London
Forget drones — self-driving cars can now deliver your groceries.
Autonomous delivery vehicles are making drop-offs in London as part of a trial program and study spearheaded by University of Oxford self-driving spin-off Oxbotica, as well as Ocado Technologies, a developmental division of the UK-based, online-only supermarket service.
The project aims to test out an emission-free, electric self-driving van—dubbed the CargoPod—as a low-impact last step in the fulfillment chain to get orders to customers. The trial is limited to a few developments in the Royal Borough of Greenwich as part of the larger, government-backed GATEway Project.
The CargoPod runs on Oxbotica’s Selenium autonomous control system, which was designed for multiple vehicle types. It’s not a fully self-driving system — the vans still have human operators for now. The UK requires that autonomous test vehicles have someone to take control if anything goes wrong, like most areas that allow autonomous trials in the United States.
The trial is focused on more than just the self-driving system, though. The team behind the project is also focused on observing how such a system might impact cities and fit into a residential neighborhood, along with how real-world customers react to a driverless vehicle pulling up to their door with their groceries.
The pilot program has reportedly made over a hundred deliveries to customers.
Sadly, until the program expands, we’ll have to get our online orders delivered the old-fashioned way — or get to London to test out the trial ourselves.