Mobility

#smartlogistics

Satisfaction Delivered to Your Door

Tags: Autonomous Driving, SeeThinkAct, Connectivity, Efficiency, Mobility
In Germany alone, parcel couriers deliver more than ten million parcels every day – and the trend is rising. With an interconnected and autonomously driving concept vehicle, ZF shows how parcel delivery can be handled with less stress.
Kathrin Wildemann, August 24, 2018
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Kathrin Wildemann has been a part of the permanent Copy Team at ZF since 2016. In her online and offline articles, she likes to cover electromobility and other topics that involve sustainability.
Online retail is actually a really fine thing. Just one click and the desired goods are delivered directly to your home in a parcel. That’s the theory at least. And what happens in practice? The time of the parcel delivery is etched in stone. The time window specified by the delivery service forces you to work from home or take a short vacation. Afterwards, the recipient often only finds a notification in their mailbox that they can pick up the parcel the next day in the parcel shop or at the neighbor’s – if the courier has not simply left the parcel in front of the door, where anyone could take it.

Trouble on the last mile of delivery

Trouble on the last mile of delivery

However, it is not just recipients who experience stress when it comes to parcel delivery. On already narrow city-center streets, who has not been annoyed by double-parked delivery vans blocking the road? According to a study by the auditing and consulting company PwC, transport of goods is responsible for 80 percent of city-center traffic jams at peak times. Another of the authors’ findings: one third of Germans are dissatisfied with parcel delivery.
At the same time, parcel couriers are under massive time pressure. A daily workload of 200 parcels is not unusual for them. On average, a courier has less than two and a half minutes per parcel. During this time, they need to
  • drive to the recipient address,
  • park their vehicle,
  • find the right front door and
  • deliver the parcel.
All the more annoying if the recipient is not there and the destination address has to be visited a second time in order to be able to finally deliver the parcels in another delivery attempt.
Autonomous driving and networking for the last mile of delivery: The ZF Innovation Van independently steers itself through city traffic while the courier prepares the parcel deliveries.

Networking brings customers and couriers together

Networking brings customers and couriers together

ZF provides solutions for these challenges with an innovative concept for modern parcel delivery. An autonomous delivery van with an intelligent delivery system links freight, couriers and recipients. In this way, the most efficient delivery sequence can always be found. To make this possible, the ZF Innovation Van uses a cloud-based support system, which stores the relevant data such as the delivery location and the desired delivery time for each consignment. “The parcel practically finds its own way,” explains Georg Mihatsch. As Project Manager, he is responsible for the development of the ZF Innovation Van.
The customer is also integrated into the system. Using an app, they can track where their delivery is at the moment. They can specify the desired time and place for parcel delivery and change both on short notice. All this information comes together in the ZF Cloud. The system then calculates a new route in real time for the most efficient delivery. It of course takes the current traffic situation into account and provides a reliable forecast of the delivery time window. Data glasses keep the courier, who is no longer needed as a driver, up to date at all times.
In the Innovation Van, the parcels practically find their own way to the recipients.
— Georg Mihatsch, ZF Innovation Van Project Manager

Autonomous driving makes the job easier for couriers

Autonomous driving makes the job easier for couriers

The courier uses the information in the system to prepare the next delivery while the vehicle is underway. After all, the smart ZF Innovation Van drives autonomously. Cameras, as well as radar and LIDAR sensors, constantly transmit data about the surroundings of the vehicle to the AI-capable central computer ZF ProAI. It processes this information and transforms it into instructions for the actuators in the chassis, steering system and drive. As a result, the van steers itself safely and independently through even the most labyrinthine city traffic.
Up to
80 %
of city-center traffic jams
at peak times are caused by delivery traffic.

Even blocked roads are a thing of the past. If the vehicle does not find a parking space in front of the destination address, the Innovation Van drops off the driver and looks for a suitable place to park. The courier can concentrate on their actual task: parcel delivery. The recipient now holds their delivery in their hands punctually at the desired time.
It goes without saying that as a technology company working to shape the future of mobility, ZF always factors in environmental impact. Thanks to a central electric axle drive, the ZF Innovation Van is not only pollution-free but also quiet and therefore resident-friendly.
If there are no free parking spaces in front of a delivery address, the ZF Innovation Van independently looks for a suitable place to park. In the meantime, the courier can take care of delivering the parcel.
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