Around the halfway mark of 2017 we started talking about how William Sachiti –a Zimbabwean- the founder of Academy of Robotics, which was working on a driverless car to lower delivery costs was seeking funding. A few weeks later, Academy of Robotics had raised around $390K and the investment round was closed.
The last mile
For those of you who didn’t go through those articles, the Kar-go is a driverless vehicle that aims to remove up to 90% of last mile delivery costs. The last mile of delivery is the movement of goods from a transportation hub to the final delivery destination. It’s the last step of the whole delivery process. It’s apparently, the most time consuming and expensive part of that process. Why? Well, on the last mile packages are rarely delivered in bulk and they usually have low drop sizes. Think of it this way; a cargo ship could go to a country containing two tonnes of shoes and this is cheap because all the shoes are being deliver to the same country. Once in the country ,however, the two tonnes may need to be delivered to a thousand different locations and that’s a logistical nightmare.
Kar-go’s quest goes on…
Anyway, Kar-go’s quest to solve the last mile problem is on-going and Academy of Robotics opened up another funding round which only lasted for six hours before meeting its target of $96 503 (£70 000). William Sachiti said the target was met and eventually they raised about US$126 000 (£100 000):
It has been 10 months since we closed our last funding round, as costs constantly change, there was a need to raise an additional 70K to take us through production. We reached out to our existing investors and showed them our progress to date and then simply asked them to help close the funding gap. In under six hours we had pledges for over 100K from half a dozen investors. Within 24 hours, pledges reached nearly half a million.
The funding round was closed at £100K as Academy of Robotics only wanted to raise the money they actually need and not dilute the pool of investors.
We also reached out to Mr Sachiti to get an idea of when the Kar-go would be rolling out now that they have secured this funding round is closed, and he informed us that production is about to begin:
We expect to see the vehicles out on the road in the next few months. We initially had planned a roll out for earlier this year but we delayed a bit to really make sure the cars are completely safe. This was following the recent accidents with autonomous vehicles from our American counterparts. We are now confident we are at the final stretch and now beginning production.
One aspect I thought about randomly was security and I posed the question, “How do driverless car makers ensure that packages reach their destination without any interference?” For the Kar-go, William made it clear that any attempt to steal a package would be an attempt in futility:
The cars are best described as a safe on wheels with 12 cameras that can see and record up to 100m in all directions at any time. Trying to steal anything from an autonomous car would not be very clever as there would be a copy of all footage and the assailant would have better luck trying to crack a small safe.
Hopefully, there won’t be any troubles in the production and in a few months’ time we will be able to proudly claim that one of the players in the driverless car industry is a Zimbo! Can’t wait…