July 25, 2017 at 9:48 AM
If you go down to Greenwich today, you could be in for a big surprise. The London Borough has been chosen by Ocado and tech startup Oxbotia for trialling the Cargo Pod hailed as the world’s first autonomous grocery delivery van.
The vehicle looks alarmingly like something out of a Pixar animated film as it navigates its way from one stop to the next, prompting those on its delivery schedule to press a button and access the box of groceries they ordered. Welcome to the future.
Ocado and its robots
As the world’s largest online-only supermarket, Ocado has a reputation for being at the cutting edge of technology. It has already made a significant investment into autonomous technology for its warehouse processes, which have been shown to increase efficiency and throughput.
The company was the obvious choice to get on-board with the Cargo Pod concept.
Oxbotia, a company that started life on the hallowed grounds of Oxford University, developed the Cargo Pod. The company is a pioneer in machine learning and artificial intelligence and has several ongoing projects relating to self-driving technology.
The vehicle itself is based on an off the shelf electric vehicle but is given its smart elements thanks to sensors on each side and a network of six cameras front and rear. All these are hooked up to a standard computer with the latest Intel i7 chip that runs Oxbotica’s patented self-driving software.
The current trial is part of Greenwich’s GATEway (Greenwich Automated Transport Environment) project, and the area is no stranger to automation in its midst. Earlier this year, it was also the location for a trial of smart delivery robots.
In time, the Cargo Pod could supersede the thousands of diesel vans that Ocado currently has driving the streets of the UK.