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Autonomous grocery delivery trials in Greenwich

30 June 2017

The real world trials see a self-driving delivery van, called CargoPod, operating in a residential environment, delivering grocery orders to over one hundred customers.

CargoPod has been making deliveries around Royal Arsenal, Greenwich as part of the GATEway project (Credit: Oxbotica)

The TRL-led GATEway Project together with Ocado Technology (a division of Ocado, the world’s largest online-only supermarket) has completed the UK’s first trials of an autonomous CargoPod vehicle around the Berkeley Homes, Royal Arsenal Riverside development in the Royal Borough of Greenwich. 

Taking place in the UK Smart Mobility Living Lab, the GATEway Project (Greenwich Automated Transport Environment) is a world-leading research programme, led by TRL and funded by UK government and industry. It 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 using zero emission, low noise transport systems.

CargoPod, developed by Oxbotica as part of the GATEway Project, is guided by its autonomy software system Selenium, which enables 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.

Uniquely, the focus of the study is both on the commercial opportunities of self-driving technology and how it functions alongside people in a residential environment. This, the third of four trials with the GATEway Project, is exploring the public’s perceptions and understanding of driverless delivery vehicles. Ocado Technology is using the trials to explore the logistics and practicalities of deploying self-driving vehicles as part of the last mile offering for the Ocado Smart Platform, an end-to-end solution for providing bricks and mortar grocery retailers around the world with a shortcut for moving online.

The research findings will also help guide the wider roll out of autonomous vehicles which, in the future, may play an important role in cutting inner city congestion and air pollution. The trial is run in partnership with ‘Digital Greenwich’, an initiative that has established Greenwich internationally as a flagship ‘smart city’, where new technologies are being developed and tested in real, complex urban environments. GATEway is one of several projects taking place in the UK Smart Mobility Living Lab at Greenwich – an open, real world, validated test environment for the evaluation of the next generation of connected and autonomous vehicles.

Oxbotica commented: “Last mile delivery is a growing challenge as our cities become denser and more congested. In this new project we are working closely with Ocado Technology to deploy our Selenium autonomy system into a novel last-mile delivery application in Greenwich as a part of the GATEway project. This is truly a UK success story about CCAV and Innovate UK enabling a young British company to become established and to be able to demonstrate mature world-class technology capabilities within a real-life dense urban environment.”, Graeme Smith, CEO of Oxbotica.

Business Minister Claire Perry said “The UK has a rich history in the automotive sector, and through our modern Industrial Strategy the country is on the verge of leading the world in self-driving technology and the industrial opportunities it brings. 

“The GATEway project takes us another step closer to seeing self-driving vehicles on UK roads, and has the potential to reduce congestion in urban areas while reducing emissions. Backed by government, this project firmly establishes the UK as a global centre for developing self-driving innovation.”

Video courtesy of Oxbotica 


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