Automated delivery and self-driving cars are jumping into the real-world realm with astonishing speeds. In the past, we’ve seen Amazon delivery by drone, a technology that Wal-Mart is also testing. We have seen pizza delivery robots (which, by the way, might be one of the coolest-sounding combinations of things to date–pizza and robots). And, of course, self-driving cars have been all over the news between Tesla and Uber.
But what if we could smash together self-driving cars and grocery delivery so that we can both awe at modern technological marvels and stay well-fed all the while never leaving the comfort of our own homes?
In London, Oxbotica, an offshoot of Oxford University, has developed a self-driving vehicle called a CargoPod that could let buyers grab their groceries right out of a “pod” in the side of the truck.
Although it is currently in a 10-day testing phase, the overall concept seems sound.
In many ways, it works similarly to Amazon Grocery in that you could open your phone, order their groceries with an app, and, bam, they show up right at your door and you never have to change out of your pajamas. Except, instead of Amazon, the CargoPod is being tested with a major online grocer in the UK–Ocado.
Although the testing phase is within a low-traffic area with only non-perishables, this only goes to show the company’s commitment to public safety because they want to verify that their self-driving tech is actually safe, even if the law requires there be a driver behind the wheel, just in case.
If implemented, the self-driving aspect of this tech could free up time for workers to perform other tasks related to delivery, making it beneficial for those companies who offer this service in terms of payoff. However, if safety driver is distracted with other work, it is doubly important that the autonomy software be well-tested and ready for public streets.
Although more than 100 customers have received their groceries from whichever pod lights up to show it contains their order, there is still substantial testing to undergo before this tech will be widely available to the public.
Another key factor to the success of this project goes beyond actual, statistical safety, and relies more on public opinion and reception. While many people find self-driving cars to be the epitome of future, sci-fi tech, many others are still on the fence, stating that this form of technology could pose risks and dangers in transportation. Others simply find it spooky or are not partial to the idea of relinquishing control to smart cars.
Although public opinion is likely to favor increasingly-safe autonomous vehicles in the coming years, only time will tell how people receive such technologies in the very near future.