Kar-Go to deliver the goods
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A computer-controlled pod has entered the race to solve the problem of automated package delivery.
Kar-go is the brainchild of a British entrepreneur whose creation could take on rival efforts from a number of multinational firms to make robotic delivery a reality.
The autonomous vehicle could drastically reduce shipping fees by removing 90 per cent of the costs associated with the last mile of a delivery. Kar-Go is designed to drive on unmarked roads, including streets and pavements in residential areas.
It uses a combination of advanced robotics and driverless vehicle technology to navigate.
The Guildford-based startup behind the plans, The Academy of Robotics, has already gained permission from the UK government to test a prototype of the vehicle on public roads.
And the company is working with specialist car manufacturer Pilgrim, based near Brighton, to create a fleet of the vehicles in the near future.
It hopes to make its first commercial delivery through a well-known courier service using Kar-go later this year.
The firm was set up by William Sachiti whose last business venture, digital concierge service MyCityVenue, attracted 1.6 million users before being sold to SecretEscapes.
After selling the company, he decided to study robotics at Aberystwyth University, which provided the initial £10,000 ($18,021) grant to get the project started.
Sachiti said: “We can now modify vehicles by adding our driverless car sensors, AI software and our package management system. So far, we have a working prototype robot which can drive itself on unmarked roads and pavements between any two locations.
“We are also simultaneously working with Pilgrim to create our street-legal versions.”
Kar-Go uses state of the art artificial intelligence software to detect and manoeuvre around hazards. Within the vehicle's body is a system of compartments that contain packages belonging to different customers.
As the vehicle arrives at each delivery address, the system automatically selects the package belonging to the customer. The package is then released through an opening in the rear of the vehicle.
Kar-Go's team and lead scientist will demonstrate the prototype autonomous vehicle in London on June 14. And a Crowdcube crowd funding campaign will also be launched at the event.
Delivering the goods
The Academy of Robotics is not the only company working on automatic delivery services.
The pressure to solve this challenge is expected to increase globally with a rise in local deliveries because of online sales.
In February, Ford unveiled its vision of a future where automated vans and drones will rapidly ship goods across cities.
The motoring giant's Autolivery concept would see self-driving cars move goods across urban areas and use drones for the last leg of the journey.
Amazon is among the companies that has tested delivery drones, with its first Amazon Prime Air delivery made in just 13 minutes. American delivery firm UPS also tested its home delivery by drone in Florida in February.
And self-driving “Starship” robots from the makers of Skype took to the streets of London delivering Hermes parcels as part of a trial in April.