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Self-driving shopping van trialed using parts manufactured by Convert Ltd in Edenbridge

The first trials of driverless grocery vans in the UK have used parts manufactured by a company in Kent.

Self-driving vehicles being tested by online supermarket Ocado delivered their first orders after being fitted with cable harnesses designed and made by Convert Ltd.

The trials – which took place in the Royal Borough of Greenwich – saw a “CargoPod” deliver shopping to more than 100 customers.

Convert supplied parts for the first trials of a self-driving grocery van developed for Ocada
Convert supplied parts for the first trials of a self-driving grocery van developed for Ocada

Convert, based in Edenbridge, was approached by manufacturer Shape Machining to build the compartments which hold groceries for the prototype.

Its work required 250 metres of cabling – the length of five Olympic swimming pools.

The trial allowed shoppers with small orders to fetch their own groceries once the van reached their front door, with the compartment containing their goods lighting up as it arrived.

The customer then pressed a button to unlock their box and collect their shopping bag.

The self-driving CargoPod lights up with customers' orders
The self-driving CargoPod lights up with customers' orders

Each CargoPod can cover 30km on a single charge, at speeds of up to 40kph and can carry 128kg of groceries at a time.

Convert managing director Dave Lord said: “We’re very excited CargoPod has successfully completed its trials.

“This was a great bespoke project to work on.

“CargoPod was a challenge as it required a complex loom in order to connect all the different components to a power source and control unit.”


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