30 Jan 19

Promising innovations in last-mile delivery

Things are changing rapidly in the area of last-mile delivery. Today, delivery companies are already using electric vans, parcel boxes and lockers, and eagerly await large scale commercialisation of developing technologies such as droids, van/drone-integrated delivery systems, smart doorlocks, boot delivery or even fully autonomous vans, drones or robots. An overview of four innovations by known OEMs that are to be commercialised in the (near) future.


Volkswagen We Deliver

Within Volkswagen’s “We”-ecosystem, We Deliver is a new initiative that is being tested with 300 users in Berlin and will be rolled out across Europe when all testing phases are completed. It is a technology set up in a partnership with DHL, allowing the delivery of packages right into the boot of cars, offering a solution for the many cases where the customer is not present when the deliverer rings, resulting in the impossibility to deliver the package safely. With We Deliver, the courier can open the boot of a Volkswagen using his parcel scanner and a single-use access code that Volkswagen issues after an OK from the customer and deliver the goods in a secure way.


Photo: Volkswagen


FORD Last-Mile Delivery


At this years Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas Ford showcased a new autonomous delivery version of the Transit Connect Van that it is developing with the American logistics company Postmates, an on-demand delivery platform, to operate a self-driving delivery service. Currently, a pilot programme is underway in Miami where residents can order goods online and have them delivered by a self-driving research vehicle. Ford designed a Transit Connect with security code operated rear and side lockers to secure the load and allow it to serve multiple customers on the route. At the moment, the van is still driven by a human, awaiting the necessary technology for full driving autonomy.


Photo: Ford


MERCEDES-BENZ "Vans & Drones" and "Vans & Robots"


Mercedes-Benz Vans participates in the development of drones as transportation tools with the “Vans & Drones” project, where drones deliver orders to built-in landing sites on a van’s roof. The system is developed together with Matternet, a transport drone startup from Silicon Valley, and uses the Vito as the first ever production vehicle designed as a mobile receiving station and landing site for drones, turning the van into a mobile mailbox.


“Vans & Robots” is another Daimler initiative set up together with the Estonian-British startup Starship Technologies. In this project, ground-based, autonomous delivery robots are developed for parcel delivery. In their interior, the rolling parcel carriers have a protected hollow space that can fit a medium-sized package and open when the robot arrives at the doorstep of the recipient. Because of the limited battery capacity of the robots, Mercedes vans serve as a mobile hub and mother ship for the parcel carriers.



Photo: Daimler


PEUGEOT eF01 electric bicycle


Last December, Peugeot won the JANUS Industry Award, handed out by the French Institute of Design, for its eF01 electric folding bicycle, that presents a solution for the “last kilometre” of the journey once the car is parked. The bicycle can be charged either in the boot of a moving car or via a normal plug, and has an autonomy of up to 30 kilometres. Contrary to the three solutions presented before, the e-bike has already been on sale sale since the summer of 2017.

Photo: Peugeot


A fifth innovation is the Streetscooter by DHL. Fleet Europe wrote about it earlier.

Photo: Streetscooter


Authored by: Stijn Blanckaert