UK’s first autonomous grocery deliveries take place in Greenwich trials

The TRL-led GATEway Project together with Ocado Technology have performed the UK’s first trials of an autonomous CargoPod vehicle around the Royal Borough of Greenwich. The real-world trials saw CargoPod, a self-driving delivery vehicle, operate in a residential environment, delivering grocery orders to more than 100 customers.

Uniquely, the focus of this study is both on the commercial opportunities of self-driving technology and how it functions alongside people in a residential environment. David Sharp, head of Ocado Technology’s 10x advanced technology department said that groceries would be delivered by traditional van drivers from Ocado’s warehouses to hubs, like Ocado’s at Greenwich Farmer’s Market, where the CargoPods would be loaded with up to 128kg of groceries and sent out to finish the ‘last mile’ of those deliveries.

“Autonomous vehicle technology is eventually going to be everywhere,” said Sharp. “We’re trying to get experience of using it early on and this will become one of a portfolio of technologies that we could use for last mile delivery.”

CargoPod is guided by Oxbotica’s Selenium autonomy software system, which combines cameras, lidar and lasers to enable real-time, accurate navigation, planning and perception in dynamic environments.

“The public reaction to the trial has been amazing.” Added Graeme Smith, CEO of Oxbotica. “As our involvement on this trial comes to an end we’ve just won a £13m government project called ‘Driven’. This will be the first trial with a fleet of six autonomous vehicles working cooperatively and sharing data and will be held on major roads between London and Oxford. The project starts on 1 July 2017 and finishes in 2019.”