The first automated delivery vehicle that uses AI to navigate itself will take to UK roads this week to deliver pharmacy products to care homes in Hounslow, London.
Kar-go features patented AI developed by British start-up Academy of Robotics and uses algorithms that can learn and self-optimise in real-time to make the right decisions and ensure multiple fail-safe layers are in place.
Academy of Robotics said it has ensured greater control of the interaction and operation of the system by custom-building Kar-go along with the software that controls and runs the vehicle.
Kar-go will first perform semi-autonomous deliveries before gradually increasing the level of autonomy. In accordance with current legislation, a safety driver, who can take over at any time, will be on board.
All elements of the vehicle’s operation, from cameras and software logs, feed back to its Command Hub, enabling the vehicle’s position to be monitored and controlled remotely. Diagnostics data transmitted to the Command Hub will also offer an early warning system alerting researchers to any emerging issues.
William Sachiti, CEO of Academy of Robotics, said: “Kar-go’s first deliveries represent a key milestone for the wider automotive industry. Alongside our partners at Eurovia UK we have been working closely with Department for Transport’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles and key London stakeholders. This is to ensure that safety is at the heart of everything we do and we are grateful for the support we have received.”
The first autonomous road deliveries follow years of data gathering and testing, using simulators, real-world environments and live technology trials in locations including rural Wales and Surrey. The road deliveries will focus on arrival and departure procedures, where no human contact is involved right up to receipt of the package.
The project has received funding from UK Research and Innovation as part of the government’s modern industrial strategy. The investment will help scale-up Academy of Robotics’ technology, with further deliveries set up in London and the surrounding area before the end of the year.