Deutsche Post to Deploy Test Fleet Of Fully Autonomous Delivery Trucks This Year


This year, Deutsche Post DHL intends to begin tests of autonomous electric light trucks using the latest NVIDIA DRIVE PX and ZF ProAI self-driving system (which doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue).


Nvidia Drive PX Pegasus (Image Credit: Nvidia)

The German postal service is no stranger to being on the cutting edge, or plugging in …. as DPDHL already utilizes a fleet of 3,400 (and growing) StreetScooter electric delivery vehicles, produced in-house.

According to Deutsche Post, the StreetScooter can be equipped with ZF’s multiple sensors, including cameras, lidar and radar, that feed into the ZF ProAI system. That way DPDHL is able to automate package transportation and delivery, including the “last mile” of deliveries, which is the complex and costliest aspect of courier and e-commerce deliveries.

“To develop these AI delivery vehicles, DPDHL has already configured its data center with the NVIDIA DGX-1™ AI supercomputer for training its neural networks. It will then run its deep learning models on the truck’s NVIDIA DRIVE PX platform. A prototype delivery vehicle unveiled today uses six cameras, one radar and two lidar — all feeding into the NVIDIA DRIVE PX.”

Jensen Huang, NVIDIA founder and CEO said:

“The development of autonomous delivery vehicles demonstrates how AI and deep learning are also reshaping the commercial transportation industry. As online shopping continues to explode, and the shortage of truck drivers becomes more dire, AI-enabled vehicles will be key to providing last-mile delivery services.”

Jürgen Gerdes, member of the Board of Management at Deutsche Post AG said:

“Research and development of ecological, economical and efficient transportation will bring dramatic changes to the logistics industry. Partnering with NVIDIA and ZF will enable us to responsibly support this development, benefit from it and reinforce our position as the industry´s innovation leader.”

Stefan Sommer, CEO of ZF said:

“In its StreetScooter fleet, Deutsche Post DHL is taking its next step with our current and future generation of surround sensor technology and ZF ProAI artificial intelligence brain powered by NVIDIA. ZF ProAI is the brain between our autonomous driving sensor set to detect and understand the environment, and our motion control based on outstanding mechanical competence — the entire system follows our ‘see – think – act’ approach. In supply logistics and on the last mile where autonomous driving has tremendous benefits, goods can be delivered independent of the time of the day and delivery staff, with minimal noise and emissions, thus significantly reducing traffic congestion in city centers.”

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8 Comments on "Deutsche Post to Deploy Test Fleet Of Fully Autonomous Delivery Trucks This Year"

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So Deutsche Post is the global front runner in level 5 autonomy vehicles? Odd….

Does anyone know what Nvidia is charging for Pegasus? The cost of the nine sensors mentioned would be inconsequential.

The hourly cost of the autonomous driver will soon be closer to $0 per hour than $1.00.

It’s far too soon to know prices, which will be heavily dependent on volume — even the eval boards will only be out later this year. However, going by the HW capabilities compared to PC gaming cards, estimated volumes the first couple of years, and adding a bit for the harsh automotive environment, I’d guess cost to a customer ordering 10K units would be several $100s per unit. “The cost of the nine sensors mentioned would be inconsequential.” — You’re joking, right? The current consensus is that for full Level 5 autonomy, you need a combo of cameras, radar and LiDAR, plus the compute HW and of course software. Everyone testing L5 today uses all three, and the Deutsche Post system does as well. The cameras are pretty cheap, sure, but nothing else is. Radar sensors (and you need multiple ones, different angles/distance/frequencies) are a currently a few $1000K. The biggie, however, is the LIDAR (it’s really much more than a sensor) — the ones currently used are ~$75K _each_. There are lots of startups working on cheaper versions, certainly, hoping to reduce this down to a few $100 per sensor, but it’ll take years at least for commercial… Read more »
“Cameras, radars, and ultrasonic sensors are cheap, ranging from as little as $15 to $200. That’s largely because they’ve been common for several years, necessary for features like lane keeping and adaptive cruise control. “ The above is a quote from a 2015 article from Wired article on the subject. Prices have gone down since 2015. A half dozen companies were hawking low cost lidar designs back in 2016. At least three of those are supposed to be in production in the next 2-15 months.GM has a partnership with one of them. Lidar cost is not a big concern. I would expect Pegasus to be the costliest component of the DHL system. I would expect the cost of Pegasus to be in the thousands of dollars per even in bulk quantities. Add in the cost of your developers and liability and even if you come up with a cost of $20,000 per car just for the autonomous operation over a five year expected life span that works out to less than $0.50 per hour. If you are only able to manage 50% of the time as productive time then you still have a driver cost below $1.0 per hour.

On a side note, the Deutsche Post is now testing Hydrogen FCVs for its fleet of delivery trucks.

And they will soon find out that operating their PEV trucks will cost 1/3 that of their H2 versions due to the physics of manufacturing, transporting, compressing and cooling the low energy-density H2.

Of course, Big Oil companies and their shills like you will subsidize the prices to camouflage the huge disparity for a while but that is completely economically unsustainable as is H2 as a fuel for at least light-medium duty transportation.

In any case, we will know when Big Oil is serious because they will start putting their money where their mouths are by building out their H2 infrastructure ON THEIR DIME and selling their H2 UNSUBSIDIZED.

Still waiting…..

McDonalds called. They want their uniforms back.

Awesome, do they have a robot to go along with it to deliver packages to the front door?