The Automotive manufacturing company ZF specialises in the creation of driveline and chassis technology. Through a partnership with the delivery and logistics company Deutsche Post DHL Group and the visual technology developer Nvidia, the manufacturer is looking to create and then trial a fleet off autonomous delivery trucks.
In 2018, it is expected that DHL will be equipping several of their StreetScooter electric delivery vehicles with a system developed by the driveline and chassis technology developer. The system will be the ZF ProAI self-driving system that has been based on the Nvidia Drive PX technology and will operate by collecting information from a number of different sensors before using artificial intelligence, or AI in order to understand the environment and drive along a safe route. The sensors used to collect the required information includes cameras, lidar and radar. It is hoped that if the first trials are successful and developments can be made, that the self-driving vehicles will be able to park themselves in the future.
DHL and their partners have recently revealed a prototype of one of these autonomous delivery vehicles. The unveiling took place at the GPU Technology Conference in Munich. The prototype has six cameras, one radar and two lidar in order to sense surroundings. All of these sensors feed back to the Nvidia Drive PX.
At the moment, DHL has a fleet of 3,400 StreetScooter electric vehicles that can be equipped with the ZF sensors and the self-driving system. The development of autonomous delivery vehicles is a demonstration of how both AI and deep learning can be used to reshape the commercial transportation industry. With the increased popularity of online shopping, more and more deliveries are being made and therefore larger delivery and logistics companies are needed, and possibly more drivers. The shortage of truck drivers is getting worse with the increase of online shopping orders. The use of AI-enabled vehicles could be the perfect solution to the deficit of truck drivers as well as a way of meeting demand of the online shopping market.