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Zimbabwe

Zim start-up launches Europe’s first driver-less delivery vehicle

The Herald

Zimbabwean start-ups are doing big in the Diaspora as evidenced by The Academy of Robotics founder William Sachiti, who invented the first roadworthy autonomous vehicle. Sachiti was born in Harare on May 1, 1985 before moving to the United Kingdom aged 16.

The delivery vehicle looks like a cross between a frog and a Formula One race car — and it may be delivering parcels to shoppers’ autonomously in Surrey, on the outskirts of London, by the end of this year.

Sachiti, a serial entrepreneur who has been working on the Kar-go project since 2016, unveiled the vehicle at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in the UK earlier this month.

He said the self-driving electric vehicle will reduce the cost of “last-mile” deliveries by 90 percent.

“Self-driving vehicles will start in the delivery and goods sector,” he said. “Most of what you pay to have a parcel delivered now goes to that last mile of transport to your house. But with autonomous vehicles we can reduce the cost to just 1.2p a mile.

“The first green Kar-go car — which can carry 48 shoebox-sized packages at a time — will be operational by the end of the year.”

This delivery car, invented by the brilliant Zimbabwean, might be the beginning of an era of accepting self-driving cars.

According to Sachiti, the Kar-go has just the one car and needs to raise funding to build out the fleet.

The company raised £300 000 in 2017 to allow it to build its first working model together with Pilgrim Motorsport, a company that makes replica classic sports cars in the UK.

But it is just starting talks with investors to raise £2.5m to build another 10 cars.

Posting on Twitter, Sachiti said: “There are some great delivery robots out there, but most of them are designed to run on neat pavements or sidewalks of grid-like cities. We want Kar-go to be universally applicable, so we have trained our technology in a number of different environments and of course, for me, Zimbabwe was a natural choice.”

Sachiti’s vehicle was also hosted at an event graced by Zimbabwe’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Dr Sibusiso Moyo during his recent trip to the UK.

The minister, together with Zimbabwe’s ambassador to the UK Retired Colonel Christian Katsande,  inspected the Kar-go vehicle at an exclusive reception hosted at the Westbury Mayfair hotel.

Powered by Tesla batteries, Kar-go can drive at 60mph and cover around 193km before it needs re-charging – around the same distance as an average delivery driver covers daily.

Travelling at up to about 96km/h, the vehicle has been developed in collaboration with the UK’s vehicle licensing authority, the DVLA, to travel on the roads.

Adopting a revolutionary terrain-training approach, Kar-go uses advanced evolutionary artificial neural networks to train the vehicle in a way which mimics aspects of nature and biology helping it to learn from events in the past and apply this knowledge to new situations it faces.

At 19, Sachiti started his first start-up 123-registration a domain registration business which was acquired year after its inception.

Sachiti first reached the public eye after appearing on the BBC investment programme Dragons’ Den, where he was seeking 65K for his company, Clever Bins.

Clever Bins was a solar powered digital advertising bin which was aimed as an advertising platform for cities.

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