A new robotic vehicle has been created, designed to solve the last-mile-delivery conundrum where most cost is incurred.
"Kar-go solves [the problem] by automating it," said William Sachiti, founder of the Academy of Robotics, Kar-go's developers.
"We essentially removed the time and cost element by getting a robot to do it, which will do it all day, and you have to pay only the pennies it costs for electricity," Mr Sachiti said.
The custom-built electric vehicle will carry 48 parcels and can drive on urban roads and unmarked country lanes without a GPS signal, using artificial intelligence to learn its route and sort its packages on the move.
The company says the vehicle will drive itself to and from the sender and recipient's address and will perform parcel handover autonomously using its onboard robotics.
Beginning with semi-autonomous deliveries, the level of autonomy will be gradually increased. This article looks at how self-driving companies are starting to find traction in this short-distance, semiautonomous space.
While the laws around driverless vehicles is expected to evolve with technology, in accordance with current legislation, Kar-go will also have a safety driver on board who can take over at any time.
Kar-go will focus on delivering shoe-boxed sized parcels.
Its medicine delivery trials were planned before the Covid pandemic but the timing proved serendipitous.
"The hippy side of me is not a big fan of how AI can be used for things like keeping kids in apps longer and forcing buying decisions for us," Mr Sachiti said.
"AI that does a very simple job, such as to take grandma her medicine, is a good thing."
The company says Kar-go can reach speeds of about 96kph, takes an hour to charge up to 70 per cent and can be fully charged in around three hours.
They say it costs around 0.75p per kilometre to run and promises to reduce the last-mile-delivery cost by up to 90 per cent.
Shippers, retailers and restaurants are experimenting with robots, drones and self-driving cars in an attempt to use automation to drive down the high cost of delivering gadgets, groceries and even cups of coffee to consumer doorsteps.
The "last mile" to the home accounts for 50 per cent or more of total package delivery costs.
Starship Technologies has already used small, knee-high robots to deliver packages, although Mr Sachiti said slow speed and diminutive size were drawbacks.
Amazon is developing a drone delivery system that will deliver packages to customers in 30 minutes or less.