Self-driving delivery van trials underway in central London residential environment
The GATEway Project has taken fundamental steps forward in its ongoing trials of driverless vehicles in a residential environment, with the UK’s first trials of the CargoPod, an autonomous grocery delivery pod.
Throughout the project, online consultation expert, Commonplace, has continued to gather official feedback via an interactive map from members of the public who have utilised the vehicles and those who have observed them, about what this step towards the future of transport means.
Taking place in the UK Smart Mobility Living Lab, the GATEway Project (Greenwich Automated Transport Environment) is a world-leading research programme, led by Transport for London (TRL) and funded by UK government and industry. It aims to demonstrate the use of autonomous vehicles for ‘last mile’ deliveries and mobility, seamlessly connecting existing distribution and transport hubs with residential and commercial areas using zero emission, low noise transport systems.
Uniquely, the focus of the study is both on the commercial opportunities of self-driving technology and how it functions alongside people in a residential environment. This, the third of four trials with the GATEway Project, is exploring the public’s perceptions and understanding of driverless delivery vehicles. Ocado Technology is using the trials to explore the logistics and practicalities of deploying self-driving vehicles as part of the last mile offering for the Ocado Smart Platform, an end-to-end solution for providing bricks and mortar grocery retailers around the world with a shortcut for moving online.
Amongst others in the project consortium, the information collected by Commonplace is being used by the Royal Borough of Greenwich to support development of urban strategies that include autonomous vehicles.
The research findings, as collated by Commonplace on its online feedback platform, will also help guide the wider roll out of autonomous vehicles which, in the future, may play a vital role in cutting inner city congestion and air pollution. The Commonplace platform will provide the project with informed feedback, quantified by situational and behavioural responses that can be utilised to progress the project accordingly.
Mike Saunders, CEO of Commonplace said: “Our immersive online platform engages people as they experience the vehicles. Gathering data in this innovative way mirrors the ground-breaking technology being trialled. Those interacting with this latest technology can leave feedback from their phone via three simple questions. In addition, local people who see the CargoPod will be invited to give their feedback on the ways in which it integrates into the London city lifestyle – this data will be collated into the Commonplace sentiment map which measures public interactions with the vehicle, which is also an important aspect of the trial.”
CargoPod, developed by Oxbotica as part of the GATEway Project, is guided by their state-of-the-art autonomy software system Selenium, which enables real time, accurate navigation, planning and perception in dynamic environments. The pod is able to carry a total of 128kg of groceries at a time.
Simon Tong, principal research scientist at TRL and technical lead for the GATEway project, commented: “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. 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.”
The CargoPod trial is run in partnership with ‘Digital Greenwich’, an initiative that has established Greenwich internationally as a flagship ‘smart city’, where new technologies are being developed and tested in real, complex urban environments.