udelv launches autonomous last-mile delivery vehicle

udelv, a California based company has launched its autonomous, last-mile delivery vehicle. The vehicle was also tested on the public roads where it traveled through a 2.5-mile loop with traffic lights, lane changes, unsignalized left turns and two delivery stops to deliver items from Draeger’s Market in San Mateo to two nearby customers. In compliance with existing California regulations, the vehicle was supervised by a safety driver and in test mode.

The vehicle is built on a fully electric powertrain and features 18 secure cargo compartments with automatic doors using a cloud-based proprietary technology that is shared between the vehicle, customers, and merchants.  In its current configuration, the vehicle can drive for up to 60 miles per cycle and can load up to 700 pounds of cargo.

A dedicated application is also available on iOS to track and potentially reschedule deliveries, with an Android version to be released soon. The company anticipates that its new vehicle will bring forth a dramatic drop in the cost of local deliveries, add delivery window flexibility and significantly reduce carbon footprint. The company plans to test dozens of its vehicles on the roads in a few states soon.

Autonomous vehicles can play a key role in last mile delivery, according to a report by Mckinsey Insights, autonomous vehicles will deliver 80 percent of parcels in future. A number of companies — from global automakers and technology companies to startups — are therefore working to develop capacity in this area.

Ford and Toyota are working with Pizza Hut in two different projects on this while there were also reports that Amazon too is working on developing vehicles for last mile delivery. Ocado, an online supermarket in the UK last year conducted a 10-day trial of self-driving grocery delivery in London where deliveries were made using “CargoPod”, a self-driving minitruck developed by Oxbotica, a technology firm in the UK. Another startup, that came out of stealth recently is also working on self-driving vehicles dedicated to last mile delivery.

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