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Groin Sorokin
Groin Sorokin

POD: A Review of the Self-Driving Grocery Delivery Trial in London - GeekWire


POD: Riding to Supermarket - A New Way to Shop Online




Have you ever wished you could get your groceries delivered to your doorstep without any hassle or delay? Have you ever wondered what it would be like to ride in a self-driving vehicle that can navigate the streets on its own? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you might be interested in POD, a new service that combines online shopping with autonomous delivery. In this article, we will explain what POD is, how it works, what are its benefits, how you can use it, and what are its challenges and limitations.




POD: Riding to Supermarket



What is POD and how does it work?




POD stands for Personal On-Demand Delivery. It is a service that allows customers to order groceries online from Ocado, an online supermarket, and have them delivered by a self-driving electric van called the CargoPod. The CargoPod was developed by Oxbotica, a company that specializes in autonomous vehicle technology. The CargoPod uses sensors and software to make its way to the customers' locations without the need for GPS. It can transport up to 128 kg (280 lb) of groceries per trip and get up to a top speed of 25 mph (40 km/h).


POD stands for Personal On-Demand Delivery




POD is a personal service that caters to each customer's individual needs and preferences. Customers can choose from a wide range of products, from fresh produce to household items, and have them delivered at a convenient time slot. Customers can also track their delivery in real time and receive notifications when the CargoPod arrives.


POD uses self-driving electric vans to deliver groceries




POD is a futuristic service that leverages the latest advances in autonomous vehicle technology. The CargoPod is a fully road legal prototype vehicle that doesn't rely on GPS to get around, but cameras that help determine where it is and lasers for obstacle avoidance. The CargoPod also has a trained safety driver in the front who can take control if needed. The CargoPod has eight lockers that store the groceries securely until they are retrieved by the customers.


POD is powered by Ocado Technology and Oxbotica




POD is a collaborative project between Ocado Technology, the technology division of Ocado Group, and Oxbotica, a spin-out from Oxford University's Robotics Institute. Ocado Technology created a separate website for customers to order their POD-delivered goods, and sent the details to Oxbotica's cloud-based fleet management system to schedule autonomous delivery. Oxbotica developed the CargoPod vehicle and its software system, called Selenium, that enables it to navigate autonomously.


What are the benefits of POD?




POD offers several benefits for both customers and society at large. Some of these benefits are:


POD is convenient and fast




POD saves customers time and effort by delivering their groceries to their doorstep. Customers don't have to worry about traffic, parking, or carrying heavy bags. Customers can also enjoy a flexible and reliable delivery service that adapts to their schedule and location. Customers can order their groceries anytime, anywhere, and have them delivered within a few hours or the next day.


POD is eco-friendly and cost-effective




POD reduces the environmental impact and the operational cost of grocery delivery. The CargoPod is an electric vehicle that runs on batteries and emits no greenhouse gases. The CargoPod also optimizes its route and speed to minimize energy consumption and maximize efficiency. The CargoPod can deliver more groceries per trip than a conventional delivery van, reducing the number of vehicles on the road and the congestion and pollution they cause.


POD is safe and secure




POD ensures the safety and security of both the customers and the goods. The CargoPod is equipped with sensors and software that enable it to avoid collisions and navigate complex urban environments. The CargoPod also has a safety driver who can intervene if necessary. The CargoPod's lockers are locked until the customer arrives and unlocks them with a button or a code. The customer can also contact the customer service representative or unlock the vehicle remotely if needed.


How can you use POD?




If you are interested in using POD, here are the steps you need to follow:


You need to register on the Ocado website




To use POD, you need to be a registered customer of Ocado, the online supermarket that provides the products. You can register on the Ocado website by providing your name, email address, password, and postcode. You can also sign up for a free trial or a paid subscription plan that gives you access to discounts, free deliveries, and other perks.


You can choose from a wide range of products




Once you are registered, you can browse through the Ocado website and choose from thousands of products across various categories, such as fresh food, frozen food, drinks, household, health and beauty, baby and child, pet, and more. You can also search for specific products by name, brand, or keyword. You can add the products you want to your basket and proceed to checkout.


You can track your delivery and access your locker




After you place your order, you will receive a confirmation email with your order details and delivery time slot. You will also receive a link to track your delivery in real time and see where the CargoPod is on a map. When the CargoPod arrives at your location, you will receive a notification on your phone or email. You can then go outside and press a button on the side of the vehicle to open the locker that contains your groceries. You can also use a code or contact the customer service representative if you have any issues.


What are the challenges and limitations of POD?




While POD is an innovative and promising service, it also faces some challenges and limitations that need to be addressed before it can become widely available and accepted. Some of these challenges and limitations are:


POD is still in the trial stage and not widely available




POD is currently in the experimental phase and not open to the general public. POD was first tested in 2017 in Greenwich, London, where it delivered groceries to more than 100 customers over two weeks. Since then, POD has been undergoing further development and testing to improve its performance and reliability. POD is expected to launch in more locations in the future, but there is no official date or timeline for its expansion.


POD has some technical and legal issues to overcome




POD relies on complex technology that is still evolving and maturing. POD needs to ensure that its software system is robust and secure against hacking, glitches, or errors. POD also needs to comply with various regulations and standards that govern autonomous vehicles, such as safety, liability, insurance, data protection, and ethics. POD needs to work with authorities, stakeholders, and customers to establish trust and confidence in its service.


POD may not suit everyone's preferences and needs




POD may not appeal to everyone's tastes and expectations. Some customers may prefer to shop in person or use other delivery methods that offer more options or convenience. Some customers may not feel comfortable with using self-driving vehicles or trusting them with their groceries. Some customers may also have special requirements or requests that POD may not be able to accommodate or satisfy.


Conclusion




customers to order groceries online from Ocado, an online supermarket, and have them delivered by a self-driving electric van called the CargoPod. The CargoPod was developed by Oxbotica, a company that specializes in autonomous vehicle technology. The CargoPod uses sensors and software to make its way to the customers' locations without the need for GPS. It can transport up to 128 kg (280 lb) of groceries per trip and get up to a top speed of 25 mph (40 km/h).


POD is a new way to shop online that offers convenience, speed, eco-friendliness, cost-effectiveness, safety, and security. POD is also a futuristic service that showcases the potential of autonomous vehicle technology and its applications in various domains. POD is currently in the trial stage and not widely available, but it is expected to expand in the future and overcome some of the technical and legal challenges it faces. POD may not suit everyone's preferences and needs, but it is certainly an option worth considering for those who want to try something different and innovative.


FAQs




Here are some frequently asked questions about POD:



  • How much does POD cost?



POD is free for customers who sign up for a free trial or a paid subscription plan with Ocado. Otherwise, POD charges a delivery fee that varies depending on the order size and the delivery time slot.


  • How long does POD take to deliver?



POD delivers within a few hours or the next day, depending on the availability of the products and the delivery slots. Customers can choose their preferred delivery time slot when they place their order.


  • How many products can I order with POD?



POD can deliver up to 128 kg (280 lb) of groceries per trip, which is equivalent to about eight bags of shopping. Customers can order as many products as they want, as long as they fit within the weight limit and the locker size.


  • What if I am not home when POD arrives?



If you are not home when POD arrives, you can reschedule your delivery or ask someone else to collect your groceries for you. You can also contact the customer service representative or unlock the vehicle remotely if you have any issues.


  • What if I have a problem with my order or delivery?



If you have any problem with your order or delivery, you can contact the customer service representative by phone or email. They will help you resolve your issue or offer you a refund or replacement if needed.


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