Online grocer Ocado has begun trials of a new self-driving truck that aims to become the UK’s first autonomous delivery system.
According to The Guardian Ocado has enlisted the help of Oxford tech company Oxbotica to develop an autonomous vehicle that is being tested for 10 days in South-East London, delivering food to Ocado customers in the area.
This is part of Ocado’s “Smart Platform”, an online shopping business that it aims to sell to grocery retailers hoping to compete with the likes of Amazon.
For the retailers Ocado outsources the technology to, an end-to-end service including placing technology in warehouses, shops and vehicles will be included. An anonymous European retailer has already reportedly signed up to Smart Platform.
Its new vehicles can carry up to eight boxes and requires the customer to leave their house to get their groceries. Although this compares unfavorably with staffed deliveries, Smart Platform’s David Sharp argues that it is quicker, cheaper and possible to scale up much more quickly.
Ocado and Oxbotica reportedly aim to have the system prepared for launch by 2019.