The California startup udelv recently finished a public road test of its autonomous, last-mile delivery vehicle along a stretch of road near Draeger’s Market in San Mateo, Calif.
The udelv autonomous vehicle successfully made deliveries to two nearby customers on a 2.5-mile route that included traffic lights, lane changes, unsignaled left turns, and multiple stops. Because of regulations on autonomous vehicle testing in the state, the vehicle was supervised by a safety driver and was set to test mode.
Led by former Tesla and Apple special projects engineer managers, the company is funded by a group of investors, including prominent U.S. and international venture capital funds as well as private investors.
The custom vehicle has a fully electric powertrain and features 18 secure cargo compartments with automatic doors. In its current configuration, the vehicle can drive for up to 60 miles per cycle and can load up to 700 pounds of cargo, according to udelv.
“Deliveries are the perfect first application for autonomous vehicles,” said Daniel Laury, CEO of udelv. “Customers simply open the locker with a press of a button on their mobile device and the vehicle heads on its way to the next delivery or back to the store.”
A dedicated application is available on iOS to track and potentially reschedule deliveries, with an Android version to be released soon. The company also created an ultra-low latency teleoperations system to monitor and control the vehicles remotely and allow for overrides and human-assisted guidance in unique situations.
The company plans to test dozens of udelv vehicles on the roads in a few states within a short timeframe and eventually use a subscription-based business model to roll out its vehicle fleet.
“Our customers are very tech-savvy,” said Richard Draeger, owner, Draeger’s Market. “We look forward to adding the udelv autonomous vehicle and its cost reduction factor to our delivery fleet.”