Ocado Begins Driverless Van Delivery Trial

The weekly shop will never be the same again.

Imagine ordering through your app, paying using the fingerprint sensor on your phone and then the next day a robot appears at your front door with everything you ordered.

Not once would you have to engage with a human being. Sounds blissful doesn’t it. Well that future could soon become a reality.

Ocado has begun trials of a driverless delivery van called a CargoPod in Greenwich, London.

The plucky little vans are fully electric and use a mixture of LIDAR (laser sensors) and imaging systems to help navigate around.

They’re pretty small which restricts them to delivering eight small orders over a relatively short distance, however Ocado believes the whole system is scalable over time.

The test is actually part of a wider £8m research project into driverless vehicles that’s taking place in the Greenwich area.

Once a person has ordered their delivery the van will then make its way to the required destination. Having then stopped outside the customer’s house one of the numbered hatches lights up indicating that your shopping is ready to be retrieved.

David Sharp, Head of 10x department at Ocado Technologies said: “This project is part of the on-going journey to be at the edge of what is practical and offer our Ocado Smart Platform customers new and exciting solutions for last mile deliveries.”

Ocado doesn’t see the driverless van as a replacement for humans though, rather a specialist option for those who make regular small orders and live close to a distribution centre.

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The company has been investing heavily in new technologies including a robot hand that can sort shopping at the distribution level.

It already uses a state-of-the-art sorting and distribution system that is almost completely automated, allowing them to fulfil deliveries at impressive speeds.

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