Fully autonomous vehicles won’t become a mainstream reality anytime soon. However, they do have the power to truly transform life for many people when they do arrive. These technologies can provide mobility to people who have struggled to obtain it before, and that’s good progress. But the technology will also take over more mundane aspects of day-to-day life, like package delivery.
The latest endeavor in this space comes from Udelv, a California company founded in 2017 looking to revolutionize the logistics industry. The company unveiled its Transporter autonomous electric delivery vehicle at this year’s CES, which could be on the road as soon as next year. This is the vehicle’s third generation that began development in 2018 as the first-ever autonomous delivery vehicle on California roads.
The Transporter, which features a modular cargo space called the uPod, can carry up to 2,000 pounds (907 kilograms) of cargo and make up to 80 stops per run. It can deliver a host of goods, including groceries, e-commerce packages, medical supplies, and more. It can reach up to 70 miles per hour, with an electric range spanning 160 to 300 miles (257 to 482 kilometers) with either a 90 or 160-kilowatt-hour battery. DC fast charging can add up to 220 miles of range in 45 minutes, too.
The Udelv Transporter uses the Mobileye Drive suite of cameras, LiDARs, and radars. It also features Udelv’s camera-based teleoperation system that allows for remote maneuvers. Udelv also connects the Transporter’s uPod to a proprietary software system for “intelligent loading and unloading,” with the capability for a customer to return an item, too.
The company plans to deploy the first Transporter in 2023, with the goal to reach 50,000 autonomous delivery vehicles on public roads by 2028. Udelv says it has more than 1,000 reservations for the AV, and the company was recently awarded a contract with the US Air Force for a pilot program.
Yes, it’d be pretty annoying having to walk out to the delivery truck to receive your package, but there is more than one company – ahem, Hyundai – developing robots that will bring it right to your door. It’s not a question of if it will happen, but when.