Autonomous grocery delivery trial a ‘UK first’

12.00 | 28 June 2017 | | 2 comments

A trial is taking place in Greenwich this week in which groceries are being delivered by an autonomous vehicle for the first time in the UK.

The 10-day trial, part of the TRL-led GATEway Project, aims to demonstrate the use of autonomous vehicles for ‘last mile’ deliveries and mobility, ‘seamlessly’ connecting existing distribution and transport hubs with residential and commercial areas.

The trial is being carried out in conjunction with Ocado Technology, a division of Ocado – the world’s largest online-only supermarket, and features the first use of the autonomous ‘CargoPod’ vehicle.

CargoPod, developed by Oxbotica as part of the GATEway Project, is guided by a ‘state-of-the-art’ autonomy software system, enabling ‘real-time, accurate navigation, planning and perception in dynamic environments’. The pod is able to carry a total of 128kg of groceries at a time.

The study is focussing on the commercial opportunities of self-driving technology, and how the technology functions alongside people in a residential environment. It is the third of four GATEway trials designed to explore public perceptions and understanding of driverless delivery vehicles.

It is hoped the study will help guide the wider roll out of autonomous vehicles which may play an important role in cutting inner city congestion and air pollution.

Launched in 2016, the GATEway Project is a research programme, led by the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) and funded by government and industry.

Simon Tong, principal research scientist (TRL) and technical lead for the GATEway Project, said: “This trial 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.”

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    Just noticed – there’s a programme on BBC 2 tonight (Thursday) on driverless cars.

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
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    Will it carry the groceries to the door or will there be someone with the vehicle, as suggested in the above photo, possibly sitting behind the wheel when it’s moving, in which case what is the point of the exercise if someone has to go with it anyway? If it’s a low emissions vehicle with a small footprint on the road, that’s fine in itself, but I can’t see why it being ‘driverless’ is going to be better.

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
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