Deutsche Post DHL Group (DPDHL) and ZF, one of the world’s largest automotive suppliers, have partnered together to deploy a test fleet of autonomous delivery trucks, starting in 2018.
DPDHL will outfit electric light trucks with the ZF ProAI self-driving system, based on NVIDIA DRIVE™ PX technology, for automating package transportation and delivery, including the “last mile” of deliveries. Taking packages from a central point to their final destinations is considered the most complex and costliest aspect of courier and e-commerce deliveries.
DPDHL currently has a fleet of 3,400 StreetScooter electric delivery vehicles, which can be equipped with ZF’s multiple sensors, including cameras, lidar and radar, that feed into the ZF ProAI system. This can enable the vehicle to use AI to understand its environment, plan a safe path forward, proceed along a selected route and park itself — ensuring deliveries can be made with greater accuracy and safety, and at lower cost.
“The development of autonomous delivery vehicles demonstrates how AI and deep learning are also reshaping the commercial transportation industry,” said Jensen Huang, NVIDIA founder and CEO. “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.”
“Research and development of ecological, economical and efficient transportation will bring dramatic changes to the logistics industry,” said Jürgen Gerdes, member of the Board of Management at Deutsche Post AG. “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.”
“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,” said Stefan Sommer, CEO of ZF. “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.”
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.