Self-driving cars providing self-catered shopping

Building on the GATEway – Greenwich Automated Transport Environment – experiment, Ocado’s CargoPod, built by Oxbotica, is a self-driving delivery truck for your groceries.

The CargoPod delivered groceries around the homes of the Royal Arsenal Riverside development for ten days, serving around 100 customers. Hoping to be at the edge of what is possible, the pods can reach up to 25 mph. Although for the tests they were limited to 5mph and had an employee ready to take over driving if there were any problems – and to explain what is going on to curious passers-by.

The pods are only big enough to hold 8 boxes and currently can only deliver to your curb, rather than your door, meaning that you need to be in to be able to pick up your groceries. But David Sharp, the owner of Oxbotica, explains that the CargoPods are made for a different purpose. He explains that it’s like self-serve checkouts and staffed ones in supermarkets; the former may not be quite as convenient but they’re quicker, cheaper and have the ability to be scaled up.

So, while this new development could change the way products are delivered in the future, regular trucks that can carry 80 grocery boxes – enough for at least 20 deliveries – are unlikely to be a thing of the past.

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