Hounslow is to be the first location in the UK to trial autonomous electric delivery vehicles on its roads.

The Kar-go, designed by British start-up, Academy of Robotics, will be the first custom-built autonomous delivery vehicle to travel on the roads in the UK.

Designed to offer a contact-free form of delivery, the company has chosen to make its first deliveries from pharmacies to care homes and will later introduce deliveries from a depot to work sites for Hounslow Highways, part of Eurovia UK’s businesses maintaining the road network across the UK.

The Academy of Robotics designed and custom-built the Kar-go along with the software which controls and runs the vehicle and its integration with the Command Hub, enabling secure remote monitoring and supervision of the vehicle.

The Kar-go will be driving itself to and from the sender and recipient’s address and will perform parcel hand-over autonomously using on-board robotics.

Yogesh Patel, innovation director for Eurovia UK, said: ‘We are delighted to be supporting this trial, by providing an opportunity to work in a live carriageway environment. Our teams deliver highway maintenance and improvement schemes up and down the country, so we know highways.

‘This partnership is about marrying our expertise on the highway, with Academy of Robotics’ expertise in AI, design and entrepreneurial skills. We both bring something important to the trial, which could, ultimately revolutionise last-mile deliveries and enable us to re-think highways.’ Cllr Hanif Khan, cabinet member for transport at Hounslow Council, said:

‘We couldn’t be happier that Hounslow is to be the location for this ground-breaking trial. Harnessing technology and robotics to develop efficient, cost effective and environmentally friendly solutions such as the Kar-go delivery vehicle is a great step forward.

‘We are keen to support innovative technology, as part of our green recovery, supporting industry and making a meaningful contribution towards tackling our climate emergency. We applaud our partners Eurovia for this innovative partnership with Academy of Robotics which I am sure will go from strength to strength and deliver great benefits for our borough.’