In days to come, the trucks from Deutsche Post DHL, the German delivery giant, may start to follow and track its delivery people autonomously as they move across streets in order to make deliveries. In the second half of 2018, the German company will start testing self-driving delivery trucks; the company is said to have more than 500,000 employees covering around 220 countries.
In order to run a trial, DHL announced that it will provide a few of its already existing electric delivery trucks with innovative self-driving equipment. The new equipment will be procured from the automotive supplier ZF and the American tech company NVIDIA.
Deutsche Post DHL hasn’t disclosed the locations where the tests will take place or the number of vehicles that will be used. However, the company has assured that the move will try to make their delivery service more productive and efficient.
The whole concept will include a self-driving, autonomous delivery truck, which will follow the delivery person on his way to deliver packages. So basically, the delivery man would not be required to go back into the truck between delivering packages at various points. They would be required to recover packages from back of the truck.
However, the company still has not disclosed as to how the truck will accurately recognise and follow delivery persons. Either the delivery man can carry a sensor on him that relays his location to the vehicle, or the truck’s camera can be trained to discern the delivery man’s physical appearance and follow him.
Deutsche Post DHL also plans to assess whether self-driving vehicles can be used to exchange boxes and containers at parcel centres.
The Deutsche Post DHL announcement comes in the wake of intense fascination that seems to surround the autonomous/self-driving vehicles industry. According to an Intel forecast, autonomous technology will accentuate the market by $7 trillion by 2050. The market is being charged by the quick gains in computer power.
Keeping in mind the concerns revolving the fact that autonomous technology is slowly substituting for human drivers, DHL assured that there will be roles and responsibilities for its workforce to assume.
Most of DHL’s rivals are settling on 2020 as the year to finally deploy autonomous technology to the public. But, according to a lot of experts, it will take at least a decade more for such technology to become mainstream.
Nevertheless, a few companies have already had a head start. For instance, Waymo—the autonomous branch spun out of Google’s parent company—has a ride service in Phoenix currently. Also, Uber is offering autonomous rides in Pittsburgh.
Apart from self-driving technology, UPS—DHL’s competitor—has tried drone delivery from the top of few of its trucks. Moreover, Amazon has recently completed its first drone delivery after spending years in developing the programme.