The TRL-led GATEway Project has completed its latest trial of driverless deliveries with Ocado Technology, the innovation arm of the online retailer. The trials involved driving a CargoPod vehicle around Berkeley Homes’ Royal Arsenal Riverside development in the Royal Borough of Greenwich, delivering customer orders.

“The GATEway project is unique in that it considers the effect of automated vehicles on the movement of goods as well as the movement of people,” Simon Tong, Principal Research Scientist (TRL) and technical lead for the GATEway project said.

“This trial with Ocado Technology provides an ideal platform to help us understand how and where these vehicles could best operate and whether people would accept, trust and like them as an automated delivery service in the city. We envisage that cities could benefit massively if deliveries could be made by quiet, zero emission, automated vehicles when congestion is minimal“.

CargoPod, created by Oxbotica as component of the GATEway Project, is guided by the company’s autonomy software system Selenium, which offers real-time, precise navigation, and the avoidance of objects, even in adverse conditions. The pod can carry up to 128kg of goods at any given moment – which should certainly cover the average weekly shop.

The trial was developed to offer a solution to last mile delivery problems – getting goods from the distribution centre, which usually resides in a pretty rural location, to cities and then from the city to hard-to-reach places, such as narrow streets.

“Last mile delivery is a growing challenge as our cities become denser and more congested,” Graeme Smith, CEO of Oxbotica said. “In this new project we are working closely with Ocado Technology to deploy our Selenium autonomy system into a novel last-mile delivery application in Greenwich as a part of the GATEway project.

“This is truly a UK success story about CCAV and Innovate UK enabling a young British company to become established and to be able to demonstrate mature world-class technology capabilities within a real-life dense urban environment.”

The GATEway Project has been developed by the UK Smart Mobility Living Lab, as a world-leading research programme, driven by TRL and financed by the British government and industry.

It expects to show how self-driving vehicles can be used for ‘last mile’ projects, generating very little – if any pollution.

The study concentrates on the commercial chances of self-driving technology and the way it works alongside people in a residential environment. This is the third of four trials by the GATEway Project.

“Ocado Technology is delighted to have worked in partnership with the GATEway Project to a complete a very successful grocery delivery trial using driverless vehicles,” David Sharp, Head of the 10x department at Ocado Technology added. “We are always looking to come up with unique, innovative solutions to the real-world challenge of delivering groceries in densely-populated urban environments. 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.”

This research results will also support the wider roll out of driverless cars which may play an important role in reducing inner city crowdedness and pollution.

“The UK has a rich history in the automotive sector, and through our modern Industrial Strategy the country is on the verge of leading the world in self-driving technology and the industrial opportunities it brings,” Business Minister Claire Perry said.

“The GATEway project takes us another step closer to seeing self-driving vehicles on UK roads, and has the potential to reduce congestion in urban areas while reducing emissions. Backed by government, this project firmly establishes the UK as a global centre for developing self-driving innovation.”