Britain’s Royal Air Force is set to trial an autonomous delivery vehicle at its Brize Norton air base in Oxfordshire.
Developed by the Academy of Robotics, the driverless Kar-Go bot will deliver tools, equipment and supplies across the airfield, which CEO and founder William Sachiti says is the perfect example of the bot’s capabilities.
“Moving goods securely around a site is a major challenge for almost all large organisations and although we have optimised everything we do to be able to do trials like this where the technology can complement the core work taking place on large industrial sites, every site has its own nuances and challenges,” says Sachiti.
Squadron Leader Tony Seston adds, “Bringing self-driving technology onto a base offers many advantages. Ultimately, we could see fleets of autonomous vehicles with different autonomy levels delivering supplies, spares, tools, food and also providing airfield services such as aircraft fuelling, runway sweeping and snow and ice clearance.
“However, we must ensure we introduce this in a way that is secure and safe for our personnel. We see this trial as our first steps into understanding how we can deliver this vision safely,” he continues.
As such a safety team will monitor vehicles from a mobile command hub and will be able to take control of the vehicle if necessary.
The trial is part-funded by the RAF’s Astra programme, an internal project designed to scope out the future of the service.
RAF Brize Norton is the largest airforce base in the UK and, according to station commander Group Captain Emily Flynn, Kar-Go should allow troops to get on with important work.
“This trial is part of a continued programme to take away the mundane tasks that cause added stress and inconvenience for our people, to help our highly-trained personnel to do the jobs they joined the RAF to do and to do them to the best of their ability.”