A leading manufacturer of cable looms and harnesses is celebrating, after a cable harness that it designed and manufactured was used in the UK’s first trials of the driverless delivery of grocery orders.
Kent-based Convert Ltd (www.convertltd.co.uk
) was approached by composites manufacturer Shape Machining, which was working on the cargo compartments for a prototype autonomous electric delivery van developed by Oxbotica (and trialled by Ocado).
The real-world trials, which took place in Greenwich, saw a CargoPod self-driving van deliver groceries to over 100 Ocado customers.
The CargoPod, which is about the size of a milk float, has eight compartments designed to carry small amounts of shopping. When it reaches a customer’s house, one of the compartments lights up; the customer unlocks the compartment to collect their shopping.
Dave Lord, managing director of Convert, said: “This was a great bespoke project to work on. With four doors on each side — each with their own LEDs, door locks, sensors and internal lights — CargoPod was a challenge.
"It required a complex loom with about 250m of cabling in order to connect all the different components to a power source and a control unit.”
Glen Pascoe, Shape Machining’s development manager, said: “We approached Convert to help us with the cable harnessing and electrical-system integration for CargoPod.
"I had worked with them in the past and been impressed by their abilities. They met every engineering challenge I threw at them and delivered the finished cable harness in under three months.”
CargoPod was developed to demonstrate the use of autonomous vehicles for ‘last-mile’ deliveries, seamlessly connecting existing distribution and transport hubs with residential and commercial areas, using zero-emission and low-noise transport systems.
It is guided by Oxbotica’s Selenium autonomy software, so it knows where it is, what is around it, and where to go next.