Pharmacy chosen to trial pioneering driverless van delivery

Kar-go, an autonomous delivery vehicle, collected medicines from Hounslow East Pharmacy in West London, and delivered them to a local care home.


A West London pharmacy has pioneered the use of a driverless delivery van, as part of a UK Research and Innovation-funded trial into autonomous vehicle deliveries from pharmacies to care homes.

Kar-go — an autonomous delivery vehicle designed and built by UK tech firm, Academy of Robotics — collected medicines from Hounslow East Pharmacy on 10 November 2020, and delivered them to a local care home.

Taizun Hassanali, co-owner of the pharmacy, said that his staff “thought I was joking” when he first told them about the project, which is one of the first times a driverless delivery van has been used on UK roads.

“It’s not your regular-looking car,” he said, noting that there was a “lot of buzz around the area” when the vehicle pulled up outside the pharmacy, and Haroon Latif, the pharmacy’s other co-owner, placed the package of medicines in the vehicle’s boot.

“This was the first delivery: they [the Academy of Robotics] are going to crunch all of the data and once they’re ready to take it forward, we’ll be doing some more”.

Jill Lloyd, director of communications at the Academy of Robotics, said: “Our plan for our first delivery was always to focus on medical deliveries. We feel it is very important that Kar-go starts off its deliveries with something that is beneficial to the community.”

She added that there are plans to continue medicines deliveries for several months, both to care homes and to individuals in the community. “We are starting in Hounslow, and then progressing to other suburban areas,” she said.

Kar-go has a safety driver on board who can take over control of the vehicle at any time. 

The deliveries are, Lloyd said, currently “semi-autonomous; we will be gradually increasing the level of autonomy as the trial progresses”.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, Pharmacy chosen to trial pioneering driverless van delivery;Online:DOI:10.1211/PJ.2020.20208545

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