After four years of development, a fleet of autonomous, green medicine-delivering cars has now begun its first tests on public roads in London’s Hounslow district. With the current pandemic that we live in, this novelty will be very useful for those who need to be quarantined in their home.
Developed by the British startup Academy of Robotics, the Kar-go is an electric, custom-built autonomous delivery vehicle that uses a combination of advanced robotics and driverless vehicle technology to remove up to 90% of the cost associated with the last mile of delivery.
The Kar-go can travel at 60 mph (96 km/h) and can carry up to 48 packages. It can make product deliveries not only in the city center but also in suburban and rural areas. Being electric, it takes about 3 hours to fully charge. The vehicle, from the chassis to the electronics and control system, is manufactured in the UK. The artificial intelligence (AI) chip is from NVIDIA Drive and is combined with the neural networks and software developed by the Academy of Robotics. All of these systems are powered by Tesla batteries.
Equipped with sensors and software designed to detect pedestrians, vehicles, cyclists, roadworks, and pets, the Kar-go vehicles can see in all directions up to 100 meters ahead at all times. Kar-go is particularly good at navigating to make deliveries in residential areas where roads are often bad or unmarked.
Despite being an autonomous vehicle, tests on the public roads of Hounslow, London, are being carried out with the assistance of humans inside the vehicles. This is to ensure safety in case something goes wrong. Autonomous, green robots will move to and from the sender and recipient address. A smartphone app will notify the recipient once the package arrives at its destination. Once arrived at the delivery address, a robotic transport system inside the Kar-go allows for easy contactless delivery of the recipient’s package.
Academy of Robotics says it specifically chose Hounslow in London for its first trials as it is representative of semi-urban residential areas where a large percentage of last-mile deliveries occur. Several tests are planned. The second will be held in Banstead, a different location in Surrey. While there is still no indication as to when Kar-go will be fully operational on public roads, the last mile delivery vehicle is another exciting solution geared towards a sustainable future.