Europe’s first road-worthy autonomous delivery-bot is being demonstrated at the Connected and Autonomous Vehicle (CAV) Scotland event today and tomorrow (November 13-14) at the SEC in Glasgow.
Unveiled at the event that is being organized by Transport Scotland, the driverless electric Kar-go delivery vehicle uses artificial intelligence (AI) based on advanced neural networks to remove up to 90% of the cost associated with the last mile of goods shipment. Unlike many autonomous vehicles, Kar-go can drive on un-marked roads, making it perfect for solving the challenge of last mile deliveries in rural and suburban areas as well as complex urban environments, with the vehicle able to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Kar-go has been developed by UK-based startup Academy of Robotics. Using AI to deliver small parcels autonomously, the vehicle works in conjunction with an app. Similar to the system used when ordering a pre-booked taxi, recipients can call up their package to be delivered to their location (on the street, at home or outside their office) when they are ready to receive it and can then track Kar-go’s progress towards their location.
Streamlining the final stage of an online package’s journey, from local depot to the customer’s front door, is the Holy Grail of logistics companies. High costs for labour, fuel and the vehicle fleet maintenance, all contribute to making this the most expensive part of the delivery process. The first part of the package’s journey is far cheaper, with high volumes of packages being transported to and from the same location. Conversely, at the other end, drivers transport smaller shipments to several different locations, where the customer may not even be available to collect. The process becomes even less cost-effective in rural areas where drop-off points are miles apart.
The first working model of Kar-go has been manufactured in partnership with UK classic car manufacturer Pilgrim Motorsports, which makes low-volume cars, including a V8 Cobra model, at its West Sussex site. Academy of Robotics has just opened a further investment round to raise funds to scale-up production and testing of the vehicles. Travelling at around 60mph (100km/h) the vehicle’s unique operating system enables Kar-go to navigate effectively even on unmarked country roads and to navigate safely without access to GPS.
Kar-go features a patented package management system, including storage compartments for different sized items that can automatically select the parcel belonging to each customer. The hatch at the back of the vehicle is unlocked using a token on the recipient’s phone. The secure system then selects and releases the customer’s package only, preventing further access to any of the other goods. As the vehicle moves on, the complex robotic system then re-orders the packages ready for the next delivery.
“Britain has a rich heritage in automotive design and a promising future in AI,” said Academy of Robotics founder, William Sachiti. “In creating Kar-go, we wanted to take advantage of this, drawing on the strength of British motoring heritage and design talent and combining this with the latest AI technology to produce a vehicle which will deliver goods safely, sustainably and in style.”
To watch a video of the Kar-go in action, click HERE