Photo courtesy of ZF.

Photo courtesy of ZF.

Automotive component supplier ZF and the Deutsche Post DHL Group (DPDHL) have announced the companies will work together to deploy a test fleet of autonomous delivery trucks beginning next year.

A prototype delivery vehicle, equipped with six cameras, one radar system and LIDAR systems, was unveiled to coincide with the announcement.

According to details released by ZF, DHL, one of the world’s largest mail delivery and logistics companies, will outfit a fleet of electric light trucks using  ZF’s ProAl autonomous driving technology for package transportation and delivery, including last-mile applications. ProAI is based on NVIDIA Drive PX automated driving technology.

DPDHL currently operates a fleet of 3,400 StreetScooter electric delivery vehicles that can be equipped with ZF’s autonomous driving sensors, which include cameras, lidar and radar. These sensors feed critical information on a vehicle’s environment into the ProAI system, which then analyses the data to plan a safe path forward or even park itself.

ZF said the system allows parcel delivery companies like DHL to deliver goods with greater accuracy and safety at lower costs.

In preparation for next year’s autonomous van deployment, DPHL has already configured its central data center with the NVDIA DGX-1 AI supercomputer, which will run deep-learning models on the trucks’ NVIDIA Drive PX platform.

“Research and development of ecological, economical and efficient transportation will bring dramatic changes to the logistics industry,” said Jurgen Gerdes, member of the board of management of Deutsche Post AG. “Partnering with NVIDIA and ZF will enable us to responsibly support this development, benefit from it and to 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," he continued. "In supply logistics and on the last mile where autonomous driving has tremendous benefits, goods can be delivered independent of the time of day and delivery staff, with minimal noise and emissions, thus significantly reducing traffic congestion in city centers.”