Welsh startup, The Academy of Robotics (AOR), will be bringing its autonomous delivery vehicle, Kar-Go, to UK roads after securing new funding.
The startup has raised more than £320,000 through crowdfunding, using Crowdcube, which will then be matched by one of the “largest tech companies in the world”.
The group’s founder, William Sachiti told Verdict he couldn’t reveal the name but that it was a “tech company from the East”, which was a “household name and most people have heard of them”.
“They said to us, we will give you all the money you need but you need to first raise a quarter of a million in the UK and then we will match it and go forward,” said Sachiti.
Armed with the new funding, AOR is ready to start developing the commercial vehicles.
Modelled after Renault’s electric Twizzy vehicle, the cars are being developed by the UK car manufacturer, Pilgrim Motor Sports.
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As well, the brain of the autonomous technology is being developed by NVIDIA, a chip manufacturer that makes autonomous driving tech for the likes of Tesla and Mercedes.
AOR became part of the company’s Inception AI Accelerator program which gives it access to the driverless tech as well as support in case anything goes awry.
Since launching the startup has also gained the appropriate legal requirements to deploy the vehicles on UK roads by 2018, but isn’t dropping any hints about where they will go, though it’s unlikely to be in London at first.
“We’re more about residential delivery than we are city delivery as we think this is where the problem needs to be solved,” said Sachiti.
Though it is an exciting proposition, it’s not the first tech company to focus on autonomous delivery.
Starship Technologies’ robots are often seen on the streets of Greenwich or Southwark where the little autonomous bots deliver JustEat takeaways to customers, or in Germany where they deliver Domino’s Pizza.
But Sachiti isn’t fazed by the competition.
“I think it’s a great solution, but it’s different to what we’re offering. It’s two different types of fast-moving consumer goods: the market they’re going for is food whereas we want to look at large-scale retail,” he said.
The startup hopes to partner directly with large retail corporations who will be happy to use the cheaper delivery options to compete with the likes of Amazon and become a disrupter in the delivery market.
We thought someone really needs to innovate in this space. It took tech companies like Google and Tesla to make driverless cars possible because it’s computer science. It’s the same thing with us. It’s unlikely delivery companies would make the perfect delivery solution in the modern age in the way that we want to, because this is computer science and robotics. So we’ll give them the solution.