The CargoPod project was led by the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) in line with its Government funded Gateway Project. This particular project was run in conjunction with Ocado Technology, which is a division within the online grocery shopping company Ocado.
The CargoPod which took part in the trial will be used to transport customers’ shopping around a residential environment to imitate real-world use. The CargoPod van was developed by an autonomous technology company called Oxbotica and can carry a payload of 128kg, perfect for multiple small package deliveries.
On board the vehicle for safety precautions was a safety steward from Oxbotica who could overwrite the vehicle if needs be and an Ocado employee, who helped in guiding customers through the process of receiving their shopping.
Over the course of the 10-day trial the autonomous van completed more than 100 deliveries, said TRL.
Speaking at the press launch of the project on 28 June, Nick Reed, academy director at TRL, said the aim of the trial was to see how members of the public interacted with and reacted to the self-driving van.
“We’re looking at the ways in which the public can use and trust the vehicle,” he added. “We’re looking to improve the efficiencies of delivering freight and we want to understand how the vehicle can improve the delivery experience.”
Ocado used the trial to explore the logistics of deploying driverless vans as part of a wider ploy to smarten up the process of moving goods from warehouses to customer homes.
David Sharp, head of Ocado Technology’s 10x department, said: “Ocado Technology is delighted to have worked in partnership with the Gateway Project to complete a very successful grocery delivery trial using driverless vehicles. We are always looking to come up with unique, innovative solutions to the real-world challenge of delivering groceries in densely-populated urban environments.”