GM may integrate the self-driving vehicle technology it has developed with its Cruise subsidiary into future electric delivery vehicles from its fledgling BrightDrop brand.
Appearing on a recent webcast hosted by investment advisory firm Evercore, BrightDrop CEO Travis Katz said “autonomy is going to play a huge role in commercial delivery,” in the future and that his company will leverage Cruise-developed tech to help its customers save money.
“There is no need to have humans driving vehicles in all of these routes,” Katz said, as quoted by The Detroit Free Press. “One of the benefits of being General Motors, is we have our sister company Cruise, which is one of the leaders, if not the leader, in autonomous systems.”
Delivery company UPS received negative media attention in August after some of its drivers shared photos of thermometers in their delivery trucks reading up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, while Amazon has faced scrutiny for the long hours and stringent quotas its drivers have to meet. Katz said autonomous vehicles could help address worker shortages in the delivery sector, which is having trouble attracting workers due to the tough requirements.
“There really aren’t enough drivers to do the work and it’s not a super glamorous job,” he said. “It’s a hard job.”
While BrightDrop is exploring fully autonomous delivery solutions, Katz acknowledges there are still hurdles to overcome. The biggest problem with driverless delivery vehicles is that there’d be nobody to bring the package to the doorstep or building lobby, however this could potentially be overcome by an automated version of the BrightDrop EP1 electrified pallet.
“The last 100 feet, you can’t just have an autonomous vehicle pull up, you have to figure out how does the vehicle get to the end? We have e-carts and things like this and software,” he said.