Hermes has partnered with Ford for an early-stage proof of concept trial of self-driving vans.
The duo are working together as part of Ford’s European self-driving vehicle research programme’ which aims to help businesses in Europe understand how autonomous vehicles can benefit their operations.
The two-week trial will use a specially adapted Ford commercial vehicle featuring sensors that mimic the look of an actual self-driving vehicle, while enabling an experienced, hidden driver to ‘drive’. The aim is to better understand how other road users would interact with an apparently driverless delivery van.
Pedestrian couriers will support the delivery van equipped with a smartphone app that lets them hail the vehicle and remotely unlock the load door after it is safely parked at the roadside. Once inside, voice prompts and digital screens will direct the courier to the locker containing the parcels to be delivered.
Lynsey Aston, head of product, innovation and onboarding at Hermes, said the proof -of concept trial should deliver interesting results. “It is all about understanding the potential for autonomous vehicles and if they have a role in delivery in the longer-term future. We’re constantly innovating to incubate and then explore concepts like this, and we look forward to the initial findings, which will no doubt be useful on an industry-wide level.”
“As we plan to bring autonomous vehicles to the roads, it is important that we focus not only on enabling the technology, but on enabling our customers’ businesses,” said Richard Balch, director, Autonomous Vehicles and Mobility, Ford of Europe. “Clearly, there is no better way to identify how they may need to adapt than to experience those processes in real life.”