© Kar-go, Academy of Robotics

It is difficult, bad for the environment and expensive to deliver online shopping when it is transported from depots to its recipient. Emissions and costs on the final few kilometres of the supply chain are increasing exponentially, so the search for solutions to this “last-mile problem” is intense. In the London suburb of Hounslow, the first trial run with autonomous delivery vehicles has just started, transporting medical supplies from a chemist to a care home. The Kar-go electric vehicle built by the Academy of Robotics is intended to change the way parcels are delivered, and not only in the UK. The vehicle can travel 60 miles on a full battery with a full load and be used in urban centres, suburbs and the countryside; it uses artificial intelligence and a specially developed parcel management system to deliver.

For safety’s sake, a driver on-board the Kar-go accompanied its first, semi-automated run and could take over at any time. In addition, the vehicle can be monitored and steered from a command centre. By employing a combination of robotics and driverless vehicle technology, savings of up to 90% can be made on the costs of the last mile of delivery while significantly reducing impacts on the environment. The sight of driverless delivery vehicles may well soon become part of everyday life. The Academy of Robotics, which had help scaling up its technology from UK Research and Innovation, is seeking to deliver even more parcels in London and its surroundings before the end iof the year.

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