Autonomous grocery trucks could be the future of shopping

30 Jun 2017

The CargoPod is currently being tested in London to deliver groceries autonomously. Image: GATEway Project

In our increasingly connected world, a few lucky Londoners will get their groceries delivered by an autonomous van.

This week within the world of the internet of things (IoT), we saw some major moves for connected technologies, notably in the fields of online security and telecommunications.

First up, cybersecurity firm Trend Micro announced that it is creating a $100m fund to invest in IoT technologies.

Future Human

More specifically, it said it’s on the hunt for “a portfolio of start-ups that are developing ideas and living at the epicentre of hyper-growth markets”.

Trend Micro hopes the funding, as well as access to its 28,000 partners, will be an attractive proposition for start-ups.

Elsewhere, Facebook’s plan to bask in a glow of connectivity took another step further after it confirmed that its giant, solar-powered Aquila drone passed the milestone of almost two consecutive hours of flight.

Since its first flight last year, its UK designers made considerable changes, for example, adding spoilers to the wings to help increase drag and reduce lift during landing.

The updated Aquila also incorporates hundreds of sensors to gather data as well as new autopilot software and radios for the communications subsystems.

Autonomous grocery van begins deliveries

London appears to be a hotspot for autonomous driving systems of late, with news that a self-driving grocery delivery van is now running its first trials.

The trials are being conducted by the TRL-led GATEway Project, together with online supermarket Ocado Technology, and will see the CargoPod vehicle make its way to different homes in the Greenwich area.

Capable of carrying 128kg of shopping at a time, its designers, Oxbotica, said the CargoPod is also a demonstration of autonomous vehicles for ‘last-mile’ deliveries and mobility.

If the name GATEway sounds familiar, it’s because the CargoPod is one of four trials of autonomous transport vehicles in London, including a new shuttle bus to major transport hubs for neighbourhoods with limited access.

Mobike and Gemalto to expand bike-sharing beyond China

Bike-sharing programmes, such as Dublinbikes, have become increasingly popular in major cities as a cheaper and faster way of getting around.

This is especially true in China, a country famous for its number of bicycles (considerably more than the 9m Katie Melua sang about).

Now, one of the world’s biggest providers, Mobike, has announced a partnership with digital security provider Gemalto to bring the latter’s technology to other parts of the world through bicycles.

As part of the deal, Gemalto’s chips will be embedded in the smart bike locks to transmit location data and operate the lock remotely. This will allow users to easily locate the nearest bikes in real time, at their exact location, using a Mobike app.

Gemalto also said that its chips will monitor the health status of each bike, manage hotspots and distribute its fleet of bikes based on user demand.

Drivemode and to bring connected car services to smartphones

On the subject of connected vehicles, Drivemode, a mobile-based autotech company, announced a partnership with roadside-assistance technology provider

Founded by leaders from Zipcar, Tesla and other start-ups, Drivemode is a software platform that simplifies a smartphone’s menu for the safety of the driver.

Now,’s software will feature on Drivemode’s platform, allowing drivers involved in an incident to quickly track their insurance provider’s progress and ETA to the scene in real time.

This is Drivemode’s first partnership since it announced its $6.5m series A funding round, led by Panasonic, in March of this year.

IIoT adoption hindered by lengthy time to production

Unlike the more commercial elements of IoT, such as smart home assistants, the branch of industrial internet of things (IIoT) is considered to be one of the most lucrative sectors in the decades to come.

However, new research from IoT developer Asavie has found that its wider adoption is being hindered by delays and long timelines for production.

Based on a survey of 79 global IT professionals, more than half (57pc) of respondents reported that it could take six months or longer for an IoT project to go from prototype to production.

The findings also revealed that approximately a quarter (26pc) said it could take three months, with 4pc saying one month and 13pc unsure of a timeframe.

This is despite the fact that 20pc of respondents are planning on implementing an IoT project in the 2017-2018 time period, with another 20pc saying they did not know when they would have a live IoT project.

Commenting on these findings, Hugh Carroll, vice-president of marketing at Asavie, said: “The lengthy time span required for IIoT projects to go from prototype to production negatively impacts innovation and revenue generation.”

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Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic