Unmanned Systems Technology 015 | Martin UAV V-Bat | William Sachiti | Sonar Systems | USVs | Desert Aircraft DA150 EFI | SeaCat AUV/ROV | Gimbals

18 A company in the UK is taking on the challenge of the last mile of deliveries with a new autonomous vehicle platform, called Kar-go, that is about to go into production. “Its development began about five years ago,” recalls William Sachiti, CEO of the Academy of Robotics, the platform’s developer. “Technology had advanced far enough to disrupt the last-mile problem for deliveries, and I’d filed a patent for a ‘highway in the sky’ controlled by a master AI, complete with little landing ports and a traffic system. “I was studying robotics and AI at Aberystwyth University in Wales at the time, and realised there was a new dimension to the problem – the social aspect,” he says. “In 2015, a council borough in London brought out a bylaw whereby someone revving an engine or playing loud music would face a fine. When taking off, a delivery aircraft sounds like a washing machine, and if you imagine that noise several times a day over your garden it would be really annoying. “So I looked instead at the road network and started making some sketches of an idea. Being an AI guy, my focus was on unmarked roads. I figured the big companies were looking at driving on the main roads, but for the last mile the roads tend to be smaller and might be unmarked,” he says. “All our work now is learning how AI helps an autonomous vehicle drive on an unmarked road. “After a year we had a fully functional system able to navigate these roads. We spoke to Nvidia about its driving tech, and we are using its PX2 card as part of the Inception technology access programme. We also had our own AI system so we combined the two. “We use Nvidia’s DriveOS as a base with modules on top. We have Linux modules with our own neural networks and driver algorithms, but it made more sense in the long term to use Nvidia’s base technology because all the car makers are doing the same thing. It doesn’t make sense for a small company like ours to do it all ourselves.” These Linux modules address the local Going the last mile August/September 2017 | Unmanned Systems Technology The head of the Academy of Robotics tells Nick Flaherty about his vision for autonomous doorstep deliveries The Kar-go autonomous delivery system will be on the streets by the end of 2017