British online supermarket Ocado has trialed its self-driving delivery car for the first time. The car has room for eight orders, and for two drivers that are still present in the car for safety reasons.
The customer has to extract his order from the car himself: Ocado considers this to be another option, aside from the regular delivery trucks. “There are times when people will want their 50-item delivery brought to the kitchen table; times when they will order online and collect in store; and times when they’re coming back from the airport at three in the morning and just want a few things delivered quickly”, CTO Paul Clarke said. He also feels this is a solution for deliveries in streets and neighbourhoods that are unreachable with larger vehicles.
Ocado trialed the car in Woolwich, southeast of London. It is a relatively quiet area and the streets are moderately wide, which lowers the risk for accidents. One employee will tag along to evaluate (and possibly correct) the car’s driving abilities and a second employee will inform customers how to work the new system.
Sell to other retailers
Customers that use the self-driving car will get a first message when the car is loaded with their order and a second message when the car is in their street. Subsequently, they have to press a button to unlock their delivery and pick it up.
If everything goes well, the system should be fully functional in 2019. Ocado also hopes to sell the system to other retailers, even outside of the United Kingdom.