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Robot Cars Deliver Medicine in London

The autonomous Kar-go has started its first trials on public roads.

A fleet of autonomous green medicine-delivering cars has begun trials on public roads in the borough of Hounslow in London. If all goes according to plan, the Kar-go, developed by the British startup Academy of Robotics, will be the first custom-built autonomous delivery vehicle to make last-mile deliveries on public roads in the UK.

The Academy of Robotics has been developing its autonomous robot vehicle, Kar-go, for the past four years. Though autonomous delivery is by no means a new idea, the company's electric vehicle is aimed squarely at gaining a firm foothold in the burgeoning last-mile delivery market.

The Kar-go has the capacity to travel at 60 mph (96 km/h), and it can carry up to 48 parcels. It takes approximately 3 hours to charge. It uses artificial intelligence to calculate the fastest route to a delivery, as well as to sort out its parcels.

Though the electric vehicles will eventually drive themselves, as a safety measure, the first trials will have human operators sitting inside the vehicles, Reuters reports.

In order to test its contact-free form of delivery, the company has chosen to transport medicines from pharmacies to care homes. The robotic vehicle will drive itself to and from the sender and recipient's address, and a smartphone app will notify the recipient once their parcel has arrived.

Once it has arrived at the delivery address, a robotic conveyor system inside the Kar-go allows for an easy contact-free hand-over of the recipient's parcel. The Academy of Robotics says it specifically chose Hounslow for its first trials as it is representative of semi-urban residential areas where a large percentage of last-mile deliveries occur.

The Academy of Robotics has several trials planned, with its second one due to take place in Banstead, Surrey. Though there is no indication yet as to when Kar-go will be fully operative on public roads, the last-mile delivery vehicle is another exciting solution geared towards a sustainable future.

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