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April 12 - Intel Corp’s Mobileye hasteamed with four-year-old Silicon Valley startup Udelv in aneffort to put automated electric delivery vehicles into servicein the United States by 2023, the companies said on Monday.
Mobileye is supplying a fully automated driving system forUdelv’s new Transporter, a boxy electric shuttle without seatsor cockpit that is designed specifically for delivery.
Udelv will not sell the vehicles, but will offer them aspart of a subscription-based delivery-as-a-service package tocommercial customers. And while the vehicles will not have humandrivers, Udelv plans to offer a teleoperation feature withhumans remotely assisting customers with vehicle loading andunloading.
Udelv is among at least half-a-dozen self-driving technologycompanies that are focusing on delivery of goods rather thanrobotaxis. The shift was triggered by the pandemic-driven boomin e-commerce and touchless delivery, as well as the belief thatautomated movement of goods faces fewer regulatory and legalhurdles than the transport of people.
Among the likely competitors is General Motors Co,which earlier this year announced its BrightDrop electriccommercial delivery vehicles and service. While Brightdrop doesnot include automated driving for now, GM's majority-ownedCruise subsidiary continues to test self-driving shuttles forboth goods delivery and human transport.
Alphabet Inc’s Waymo is also testing automateddeliveries in a variety of commercial vehicles from severalpartners, while Amazon.com Inc's Zoox subsidiary hasdesigned a self-driving shuttle for both people and cargotransport. Neither company has laid out a specific timetable forcommercial deployment.
Startups focused on automated delivery vehicles and servicesinclude Nuro, Gatik and Boxbot, all based in NorthernCalifornia.
Udelv said it planned to build and deploy at least 35,000 ofits new Transporters between 2023 and 2028, but would not saywhere those vehicles will be built or who will build them.
Until the new vehicle is ready for prototype testing in 2022and commercial deployment in 2023, Udelv will continue to useconverted Ford Transit Connect vans equipped with Udelv’sself-developed automation system, which Udelv's chief executiveand co-founder, Daniel Laury, said is based on Baidu'sApollo self-driving software.
Laury said Udelv was switching from its own system becauseMobileye offered "the best-in-class solution" with duplicatehardware stacks for extra safety in case one fails. REUTERS