Self-drive de­liv­ery van can be ‘built in four hours’

Malta Independent - - TECHNOLOGY -

A self-drive elec­tric de­liv­ery van, that could be on UK streets next year, has been un­veiled at the Wired 2016 con­fer­ence in Lon­don.

The ve­hi­cle’s stripped-back de­sign and light­weight ma­te­ri­als mean it can be as­sem­bled by one per­son in four hours, the firm be­hind it claims.

The ve­hi­cles will be “au­ton­o­mous-ready”, for when self­drive leg­is­la­tion is in place, the firm said.

The gov­ern­ment wants to see self-drive cars on the roads by 2020.

“We find trucks to­day to­tally un­ac­cept­able. Loud, pol­lut­ing and un­friendly,” said De­nis Sverdlov, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Charge, the au­to­mo­tive tech­nol­ogy firm be­hind the truck.

“We are mak­ing trucks the way they should be - af­ford­able, el­e­gant, quiet, clean and safe.”

He added: “We are re­mov­ing all the bar­ri­ers to en­try for elec­tric ve­hi­cles by pric­ing them in line with con­ven­tional trucks, giv­ing ev­ery fleet man­ager, trades­per­son or com­pany, no matter how big or small, the op­por­tu­nity to change the way they trans­port goods and make our towns and cities bet­ter places to live in.”

Charge plans to de­velop trucks in a range of sizes from 3.5 to 26 tonnes and is in talks with the ma­jor truck fleet firms.

DHL has pre­vi­ously said of the firm: “We see huge po­ten­tial in the con­tri­bu­tion they can make to ad­vanc­ing tech­nol­ogy for com­mer­cial us­ages and the way we en­vis­age the fu­ture of lo­gis­tics.”

The ve­hi­cles will be built us­ing ul­tra-light­weight com­pos­ite ma­te­ri­als that sig­nif­i­cantly re­duce the weight of the ve­hi­cle, it said.

The self-drive soft­ware has been de­vel­oped in-house and is ready to be up­loaded to the trucks “at the touch of a but­ton” when­ever the gov­ern­ment al­lows au­ton­o­mous ve­hi­cles on UK roads, the firm said.

The UK gov­ern­ment is keen to lead the way on the de­vel­op­ment of driver­less car tech­nol­ogy and is cur­rently con­sult­ing on changes to in­sur­ance rules and mo­tor­ing reg­u­la­tions, with a view to al­low self-drive cars on the roads by 2020.

Charge plans to open a fac­tory in Ox­ford­shire next year with a team of 10 work­ing over two shifts a day to as­sem­ble 10,000 trucks in the first year.

The firm is an of­fi­cial part­ner of For­mula E - the elec­tric car rac­ing com­pe­ti­tion - with its trucks be­ing used for the drive pa­rade and for lo­gis­tics on and off the track. Mr Sverdlov also heads Rob­o­race which cre­ates AI-pow­ered rac­ing cars.

Most of the big car man­u­fac­tur­ers are mak­ing big strides in de­vel­op­ing elec­tric ve­hi­cles Volk­swa­gen, for ex­am­ple, is plan­ning to launch 30 all-elec­tric models to re­po­si­tion it­self as a leader in green trans­port fol­low­ing the so-called “diesel­gate” scan­dal.

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