- Post is under moderationFirst let me start by saying that I like electric cars, but mainly purpose-built ones. I own a #Tesla-Model-S-P90D / ( #Tesla / the dual-engine #Tesla-Model-S model), a #1909-Baker-Electric and a #1914-Detroit-Electric . My wife has an #electric-Fiat-500 .
What I have never been a fan of is taking perfectly good gas-engine cars and turning them into electrics, because they never quite deliver on the promise. Electricity is like sex: people seem to have a compulsion to lie about it. Every electric bicycle or motorcycle I have ever ridden promised 80 to 100 miles on a charge, but if you rode them the way you ride a normal motorcycle, you never got more than about 30 miles before you were limping home.
Most amateur and semi-professional conversions from gas to electric tend to come up short. The cars are usually heavier, which means handling and braking are adversely affected. Luggage space is lost and, of course, range is diminished. None of this really bothered me because most of the cars being converted were cars I wasn’t particularly interested in.
Something I thought I would never accept was converting classics to electric. Like most car enthusiasts, at least here in the States, the only part of the Royal Wedding I found interesting was the electric E-type. I’m not sure how I felt about it. A priceless classic ruined? Or had it been made better than it was?
To answer this question I consulted a man named Michael Bream. He owns a shop called EV West near San Diego, California, and has done some fascinating conversions such as electrifying Porsche 911s. Now, before you head down there with pitchforks, hear me out. As Michael explained, 911s are expensive but not rare. They built well over a million of them and his conversions are such that you can always go back to stock. He never cuts anything structural.
The classic I found most fascinating was his electric Fiat 124 Spider. The unusual part was that he had kept the original gearbox. I had always been told that there was no advantage in having a gearbox on an electric motor. Most electric motors make full torque from zero, so a gearbox just adds weight and complexity. Years ago I drove one of Elon Musk’s early prototype roadsters, the one with a two-speed gearbox. The electric motor was so powerful that the gearbox broke. So a single-speed was deemed sufficient, although the top speed was somewhat limited.
The advantage of having a gearbox, though, is driver involvement. Although I could pull away in just about any gear with the converted 124 Spider, using the gearbox made me feel more like I was part of the car. The electric motor was way more powerful than the original four-cylinder internal combustion engine, and the only thing missing was the exhaust note. I think transmissions will be the next big thing for electric vehicles. Just the fact that they use them in Formula E racing, when they’re not required to, proves something.
I was fortunate enough to get a ride in the beautiful #new-Tesla-Roadster designed by Franz von Holzhausen, which goes from 0 to 60mph in well under two seconds, turns the quarter-mile in the high-eights and has a claimed top speed of over 250mph, while giving you over 600 miles between charges.
I couldn’t tell if it had a transmission or not, and everybody was pretty hush-hush about the technical aspects of the car. What I can tell you is that it was the fastest-accelerating street vehicle I have ever been in. No need for launch control. Just hit the pedal and it was gone.
It was about the same size as a 911, which I consider the perfect size for a sports car. The other fascinating aspect was the aerodynamics. Since there is no traditional transmission, the undercarriage could become a giant diffuser. Imagine: no headers or long exhaust pipes running the length of the car to break up the airflow. Combine all those elements with a power plant that requires absolutely no maintenance of any kind, and is good for over a million miles, and you have an unbeatable combination. The genius of Tesla is the battery technology. They develop it, build it, own it.
Back to Michael Bream. After seeing his converted Porsches, Volkswagens, Fiats and even a BMW that ran at Pike’s Peak, I was sold. I’d been prejudiced against converted electric cars purely because I’d never seen any done this well. These conversions were faster, handled as well and, with their original gearboxes, were just as much fun to drive as the originals. But as for the #electric-Jaguar-E-type … that’ll take some time.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationTesla Superchargers no longer free, from 1st January #2017 / #Tesla-Supercharger / #Supercharger / #Tesla-Model-S / #Tesla-Model-3 / #Tesla /
TESLA’S famously ‘free’ Superchargers are about to dramatically change. Ahead of - likely - more popular cars including the Model 3, offering Supercharger access for free was bound to come to an end sooner rather than later. Current and old purchases will continue to receive free unlimited Supercharger access, whereas new cars ordered after 1st January 2017 will only come with 400kWh credits (or about 1,000 miles) free per year - or roughly four charges for a Model S with 250+ mile range.
Details of the payment system will be announced at a later date, but it’s possible this will be handled by a new over the air update or App on the main touchscreen in each Tesla. Tesla state the money earnt from Superchargers will go toward building new chargers more rapidly as the company moves toward producing 500,000 cars per year by #2018 .
The announcement was made at the same time as #Elon-Musk casually added that a second #Gigafactory would be built somewhere in Europe, but offered no additional details.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderation/ #2018 / #Tesla-Model-Y - the small #SUV / #Tesla-SUV / #Elon-Musk / #Tesla
In September, the first SUV from Tesla, the Model X to German customers and busy so comes the booming crossover segment for the electric car brand.
Large quantities is the Gullwing but probably not make 86 300 euros alone costs just entry version 60D with about 355 kilometer range. sale Masses could Tesla, however, the compact notchback variant Model 3, which will roll in 2017 for $35,000 to the first customer. About 400,000. Pre lie Tesla claims to already before. If one counts two and two together, it is clear what must come: a small SUV based on Model 3, perhaps even before the indicated hatchback version debuts. The key data of the compact crossover model (see computer retouching) are likely those of the Model 3 same.
It will provide space for five, a range of 345 kilometers / 200 miles, the hardware for the Tesla's Supercharger charging stations and an acceleration from 0 to 62MPH in under six seconds. In addition, Tesla aspires to five stars in crash test and had to prepare plans on the autopilot function. This could be following recent accidents with the assistance system, however, to change: If good 130,000 Model S have been sold worldwide (not all on autopilot) and so already accidents happen, the expansion of the features on the triple numbers could quickly advised to take risks. Another problem is Tesla going in the second SUV probably the same out of the way: The double doors at the rear, which have provided the model X for a delay of the sales launch of over one year, are already too expensive for the smaller SUV.
Practically, however: even for the Model 3 Elon Musk has promised (for under $5,000 charge) and a trailer coupling optional all-wheel drive. Inside waiting that typical giant screen in the center console, the equipment should be standard vegan. Background of the model name is actually a plan by Elon Musk, has the Ford, however, already crossed the Model 3 with older naming rights. It should be called model E originally. Model S, E and X, since Y would perfectly fit to: S-E-X-Y.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationELECTRO FLIGHT WORLD'S FASTEST ELECTRIC PLANE EXCLUSIVETHE STORY OF A VERY BRITISH PROJECT
Electroflight is an ambitious British project to create an electric aeroplane capable of 300 mph. #Drive-My takes an in-depth look at the project and what it might mean for electric aviation. #Electroflight-Plane
Electric cars may soon become common place on our roads, but what about electric powered aircraft? Very much in its infancy, we take a look at a pioneering British electric plane project, that could herald potentially huge ramifications.
MAIN The Electroflight plane features a twin-prop design, with each being powered by separate motors.
Ever since the Wright brothers first took to the air, we humans have been obsessed with flight. Despite numerous efforts of varying madcap designs, the Wright brothers managed to successfully navigate a figure of eight course in the air ahead of anyone else in the world. Other attempt did actually result in flight, technically, but their efforts usually ended a bumpy landing and bruised pride, and those were the lucky ones.
Back then, nothing flew apart from paper aeroplanes that somehow managed to predate man’s first flight by many years. Despite these early difficulties, today anything designed seems to manage to fly. Take a look at the latest AirBus and it is a small wonder that such a giant, weighing hundreds of tonnes is able to take off at all - let alone that it has just two engines to propel it skyward.
From radial piston engines the age of jet planes just 40 years later, aircraft technology has advanced at a staggering rate. The first flight in 1903 was little faster than walking pace but by the late 1950’s planes were already capable of more than 3,000 mph. With all this very evident speed of progress, it is no wonder electric propulsion has never really had an opportunity to make a case for itself. But what could electric power bring to the world of aircraft?
An electric powered airplane has only just managed to cross the English Channel, while the Solar Impulse 2 is half way around its world tour in its bid to become the first electric powered aircraft to travel around the world. Both of these achievements were completed a hundred years ago in the history of flight, so what is the relevance today?
A small unit at an airfield in Gloucestershire might not be the headquarters of a huge multi-national conglomerate that you may have expected to front research into new and pioneering flight technology but it is the home to Targett Aviation, run by Roger Targett. Targett’s background is predominantly centred around making Red Bull air racer’s faster and sure enough, hidden beneath a dust cover is a current 200 bhp aerobatic display plane.
It’s a good starting point as Roger explains, “That plane there has the same power as the electric plane.” It’s a bold statement considering the size difference between the Red Bull air racer and the electric plane that sits nearby. “It’s quite disruptive technology as from a military point of view it has huge potential,” Roger continues as he delves further into the workshop lined with various different aircraft and gliders. There has been interest from various different fields and one perhaps less obvious than most is the military interest. Roger continues, “If you put me on the end of a runway with my electric aeroplane and I’m next to a frontline jet fighter like a Typhoon and we both hit the start button at the same time, I’ll be at 20,000 ft and climbing before they’ve even left the runway. They’ll soon catch up, but electric power is just so instant. A jet fighter takes about two minutes to spool up whereas electric is instant.”
It’s an interesting new perspective given to a benefit electric power might be able to provide over our pre conception that jet fighters are the quickest things in the sky. That they may well be, but it will take them a while to achieve that speed. Roger goes on to show us some electric concepts he created in response to a DARPA call for new drone designs. They’re a fascinating bunch of ideas but one thing is clear; with each speed and instantaneous response are the key advantages over a nav-gas powered alternative. Many of the solutions he presents exhibit some of the typical electric benefits we’re more used to on the ground but for very different applications. For example, zero emissions means an electric drone can be used inside a building or other mother-ship where they could be flown from. The lack of any liquid fuel means less risk of fire or explosion too. Naturally, there are drawbacks just as there are with most electric cars, namely batteries are heavy and therefore flying time is spoken of in minutes rather than hours. The solution, however, is simply to have more than one and charge those not being flown while the others are in flight.
Roger brings out another example. “In Afghanistan, they have to guard and maintain a two and a half mile long runway for drones and the like to operate from. An alternative is to have a ‘tail sitter’ electric powered drone that can launch vertically from a military base. It travels 300 mph and because it’s electric it has a tiny heat signature too and is relatively easy to hide from ground-to-air missiles. It takes about an hour to launch a Predator drone whereas electric doesn’t need any preparation time and is just instant,” says Roger. It’s a fascinating display of out-the- box thinking and a clever indication that electric propulsion could have actually found its niche, albeit in an unobvious solution.
Electric propulsion also has other possibilities with regards to other projects already in existence. The hybrid air-ship project currently being undertaken in Bedfordshire, for example, will initially be powered by diesel engines. However, air ships have a problem in that as fuel is burnt, the weight of the vehicle is reduced. As such, it is necessary to apply more energy when reducing altitude. Electric power would negate this factor as the weight of the batteries would not change.
Another factor where electric planes benefit over fuel power is cost. Roger explains, “The Rotax 912 is currently the most popular engine for sport and home built aircraft. To operate one of those for 2,000 hours, which is roughly the life of that engine before it needs a major overhaul, costs £96,000 in fuel, oil and other expenses. Equivalent power from an electric motor would cost as little as £12,000 to charge it and get a similar 2,000 hours use from it.”
However, as fantastic an idea as electric planes might be when up in the air, keeping them there could prove to be a problem not due to batteries or reliability but instead legislation. Roger adds, “With this project we would be writing the books for legislation and certification as it simply hasn’t been done yet.”
Aside from writing the rule book and possible military applications for electric aircraft propulsion, the plane you see on these pages has been built for aerobatic displays and outright speed. Capable of around 300 mph, the plane is powered by two YASA 400 electric motors, each providing about XX bhp. One motor sits behind the other and passes through the middle. The reason for this is that a twin contra-rotating propeller setup can be used, which gives additional benefits to manoeuvrability. Typically, when a single propeller is used, the plane can turn exceptionally well in one direction and less so in the other thanks to the gyroscopic effect created by the spinning propeller. The contra-rotating propeller overcomes this issue and also introduces new aerobatic possibilities not possible with a conventional aerobatic plane. For example, prop hanging is a common practice whereby the plane is controlled a bit like a helicopter with the whole thing hanging in the air on the power of the engine and the propeller. The effect to the audience is the plane is static in the air. Some pilots then like to show off a little and allow the torque of the engine to spin the plane around the propeller, known as ‘torque roll’. However, with a single prop this can only be done in one direction whereas with contra-rotating propellers, the same stunt can be done but in both directions. Thanks to the instantaneous torque potential from the electric motors, the climb rate can also be more dramatic and less progressive, with the possibility of evermore death-defying stunts being performed. The fuselage is built from a Nomex honeycomb sandwich covered in carbon-fibre and shares many similarities to other conventional aerobatic display plane designs. However, there are several key differences. Firstly, where fuel is usually stored in the wings, the batteries will be housed in the main fuselage. Secondly and most apparent is the nose cone. Because the electric motors are so tiny, it allows for the nose design to be as small as possible, rather than having a large frontal area. The result should mean improved aerodynamic performance and speed.
Unfortunately, as the plane you see here is only a demonstration model and not a flying example, it is difficult to say exactly how long flight time will be. Roger says, “I have a given volume of space for the batteries and when I first designed the plane that would have allowed for five minutes of flying, which is enough to do the speed record or a display at an air show. However, in the last five years since it was first designed battery energy density has improved to the extent that flight time could easily be doubled.”
The project differs from most other electric plane ventures because it is trying to achieve outright speed and performance to test the ability of electric power, rather than others who have tended to aim for endurance. Small electric motors with big batteries and huge wingspans seem to have been the preferred option over powerful electric motors with small batteries and high manoeuvrability. One of the possible uses, aside from aiming to break the electric air speed record at some 300 mph, is to have a fleet of these aircraft that could perform never before seen stunts and aerobatics in almost near silence too. There would, of course, be wind and aerodynamically induced noise but the motors themselves would be very quiet, especially when compared to noisy fuel powered aircraft at least. Roger adds, “The projected take-off weight is 420 kilos, including a 75 kilo pilot. 120 kilos of that is the batteries. The calculated thrust is about 500 kilos, so there’ll be 80 kilos of thrust in hand. Effectively, it will be able to go vertical. The Red Bull air racers can almost prop-hang, but not quite and it will roast their engine in the process. Whereas in the electric plane, it will be indifferent to this manoeuvre as, for a start, there won’t be much heat build-up. With the power to weight ratio in this, there’ll be nothing out there like it in its class.”
But, what sort of funding is needed to get a project like this off the ground? “Three million pounds,” Roger calmly exclaims. “We might be able to get matched funding through the various grant systems available, if we only achieve half of that but that’s to do it properly. It’s a big project to undertake because whereas others build only an air frame and buy an engine off the shelf from someone like Rolls Royce, we’re doing the air frame and propulsion system from scratch.” It’s a large amount of money, but in the grand scale of things if Electroflight are able to capitalise on their desire to be a world leader in electric aircraft propulsion it is a small price to pay when usually billions are spent developing a new car, for example. The money would go towards building three air frames initially, with the first being a test air frame to satisfy the authorities. This would be used for stress testing purposes, which would see it tested to destruction. The other two would be flying air frames with one built slightly more advanced than the other so that any necessary modifications can be incorporated into the other as they are built. Roger adds, “It would be great to also be able to build a few demonstrators and get them into air shows around the world to demonstrate their capabilities.” Ultimately, electric plane propulsion has more merits than may at first appear. It is now usual to hear about how an electric powered car outperforms a conventionally powered vehicle and the Tesla Model S is a good example of this. Electric aviation is in its infancy with only a few flying examples in existence around the world and while they may in their own right be pioneering projects, they have hardly attempted to push the envelope of possibilities. Electroflight is different in that their approach is more akin to that taken by Richard Noble who began the Thrust land speed record attempts. We all know that happy ending that rightly earned its place in history with worldwide acclaim. That project led to the current Bloodhound 1,000 mph land speed project, which is being used to invigorate an appetite in engineering for school children. It’s a worthy cause and a history that Electroflight could follow if they are able to obtain funding.
Being at the forefront of a new technology is not an easy place to be in as it requires a belief in something new and unproven. However, electric power is gaining acceptance in the car world and there is no reason why the same couldn’t happen for aircraft too. Whether Electroflight ever gets off the ground is likely a question of funding, but it certainly deserves to as it would put the UK at the forefront of an emerging technology that is bound to take off.
ABOVE A Tesla Model S gives the tiny electric plane some perspective. Cockpit is cramped but free from clutter. Same power, massive size difference. Advanced safety; Electroflight features a parachute for the plane, not pilot. / #Tesla-Model-S / #Tesla /
Specification #2016 / #Electroflight Plane
Engine #YASA-400 x2
Thrust 500 kgs
Max Speed 250 knots
Stall Speed 60 knots
Climb Rate 9.000 ft/min
Ceiling Height 25.000 ft
Batteries 120 kg Li-ion
Airframe (piloted) +/-10G
Weight (exc. pilot) 345 kgs
MAIN The Electroflight plane features a twin-prop design, with each being powered by separate motors.
AERODYNAMIC New and never before seen aerobatics will be possible from the near instant electric torque.
The plane in the background is a current Red Bull air racer with similar power, but the electric plane’s frontal area is significantly reduced allowing for better aerodynamics.
READY FOR RECORDS
The ambition by creator #Roger-Targett (pictured) is to break electric records with this plane.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationUpstream. The #2016 #Tesla-Model-3 electro-mobility will now be affordable. / #Tesla / #Elon-Musk
The rumored price is a slap in the face for the car-Establishment: $35,000 to cost, the new Tesla, which corresponds to currently about 31,000 euros. Giant Large hooting among fans, hype around the globe - but also with a small flaw. After all, the 31,000 euro costs the bare basic version untaxed what will probably account for more 50 thousands in real life.
After all, Tesla has thus already earned $ 135 million, 135,000 preorders 1.000 dollars already received, is CEO Elon Musk forward certainly. Especially also because he has betrayed not much technical details on the car 345km/220miles range and 0-100 kph in under six seconds are specified, the rest is speculation.
On the market, the model should come 3 end 2017th Tesla is busy working on his Gigafactory in Nevada, in the future the batteries are made for all models in the. Batteries for 500,000 vehicles to be produced there annually. Completion of the factory is planned for 2020 - thus it will probably still take a while before the Model 3 actually rolls on the streets.
People Tesla: Much is to Tesla 3 so in secrecy that it itself does not know Elon Musk. Hopefully he finds it in time one, because $ 135 million are already flowed, in his direction.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationAUTONOMOUS DELIVERY / #2017 / #DB-Schenker / #Volvo / #Transwheel / #Cody /
Will a robot take your job? Rise of the machines. A brave new world of autonomous vehicles could change the delivery landscape forever. Richard N Williams finds out more. Illustration: Pierluigi Longo.
Cover story. Autonomous delivery… The rise of autonomous vehicles could change the delivery landscape forever.
A lot has happened since Amazon announced its drone project in 2013 and forced the delivery industry to sit up and listen. Posts around the world are now not only experimenting with drone delivery, but some are also using the UAVs to deliver parcels on a day-to-day basis.
“We are further along than many people think,” says Brody Buhler, managing director for postal and parcel at management consulting and outsourcing organization Accenture. “A lot more experiments are going on than are made public, but we do know that companies like Deutsche-Post , Swiss-Post and Posti are all working on them.”
Buhler says postal operators are delivering parcels daily using drones, with companies is well tested. The economics for drone delivery are so compelling, it will advance as fast as the regulatory framework allows.”
Piloting drones Postal operators across Europe are fully aware of the opportunities presented by drone delivery. In many countries, urban drone testing is restricted by tough regulations, but several posts have been conducting test flights in rural areas, where they see drone flights having the most financial advantage. “In cities, delivery by postmen is still very efficient, but here in Switzerland, we have a lot of mountains and rural areas,”explains Janick Mischler, project manager for development and innovation at Swiss Post. “That’s where we are looking for business cases, because it will save so much time and money.”
He says Swiss Post began experimenting with drones in 2015, but it has advanced from simple test flights to planning actual deliveries. “We have found some business cases that make sense,” says Mischler, “and we begin real deliveries in spring this year.”
Mischler believes there may be other opportunities for drone use beyond the last mile. “We are still learning, but I think all applications will have to be specific. I can see the advantage, for instance, of using drones between warehouses within the company, transporting goods from one hub to another, but currently we are focused on getting more experience with the technology.”
Swiss Post has teamed up with US drone manufacturer Matternet. The drone is a very light construction, so it can only carry small packages up to 1kg (2.2 lb), but it can travel over 10km (6 miles) without human control. “All of our drones are fully autonomous.
They don’t need a pilot; everything is computer-controlled. I think this is the only way to go. Not only does it save on having an operator, but it also eliminates human error,” comments Mischler.
He adds that they are now planning longer trips up to 30km (18 miles). “This is not beyond the current technology, I don’t think,” Mischler says. “We are in discussions now working out how to make it happen.”
Safe flight? Many postal operators have found drone delivery to be full of challenges. In January 2016 for example, DHL was forced to cancel a media demonstration of its nextgeneration DHL Parcelcopter 2.0 due to bad weather. The Parcelcopter project’s maiden flight was in December 2014. An unmanned aircraft successfully delivered packages from the city of Norden in northern Germany to the North Sea island of Juist – a distance of 12km (7.5 miles).
Bad weather is a major challenge for drone delivery. Posti trialled a robot helicopter in September 2015 in Helsinki, between the mainland and the island of Suomenlinna, a distance of approximately 4km (2.5 miles), but things didn’t go completely to plan. “The main target of the pilot, to deliver a parcel successfully, was achieved,” says Jukka Rosenberg, senior vice president for parcel and logistic services at Posti. “However we did identify areas where the technology could be improved in order for it to be more stable during windy conditions.”
He says the copter, built by Finnish company Sharper Shape, was computercontrolled but the post used a human pilot for take-off and landing, for safety reasons. “It successfully negotiated telephone wires, trees and cell phone masts, however over the sea it became a little unstable due to the wind. It made it, but I don’t think the technology is 100% reliable yet,” admits Rosenberg.
“I do think there is lots of potential, though,” he adds. “For rural areas it definitely makes sense. We could also see it as a premium service in urban areas, perhaps for same-day business deliveries.”
Robot postmen Regulations governing drone use in cities are very prohibitive in most parts of the world, and fears over security and safety may mean drone use in our towns and cities is a long way off.
However, aerial drones are not the only form of autonomous delivery system that is currently being tested. Launched by former Skype founders Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis, Starship Technologies has unveiled and tested a fleet of autonomous robots for the last-mile delivery of local goods, groceries and parcels.
Starship’s COO, Allan Martinson, explains, “It’s a self-driving, slow-speed robot, designed to deliver most sizes of packages people receive in their home. They can carry up to 40 lbs in weight.”
Martinson says the robot, so far unnamed, is fitted with an array of sensors, cameras, a GPS system, and is guided by a pre-programmed map of the area it operates in, accurate to within a quarter of an inch, and it could provide huge savings for postal operators.
“We are pretty sure that the last mile will eventually be dominated by robots like this. Aerial drones are fine in rural areas but not urban environments. Currently the last mile is very inefficient when you take into account fuel, labor and vehicle costs. We can cut last mile costs to less than a dollar,” claims Martinson.
He says Starship piloted the robots in 2015, racking up 500km (300 miles) and this year the company has partnered with several businesses and plans to trial actual deliveries. “At the moment we have a radius of one to two miles because that is the most cost-effective distance, and we are looking at more suburban areas rather than, say, London’s Oxford Street with its high volume of pedestrians,” comments Martinson.
One of the big concerns with unmanned vehicles like this is security and preventing theft of the packages, but Martinson says they have this issue covered. “We’re well protected. We have live feed from nine cameras, seeing 360° around, tamper sensors, and a lockable lid that is very difficult to break open,” he explains. “We’ve tested it and it took six to seven minutes to access. By that time we could have come to assist the robot. Besides, it’s far safer than leaving a package on a doorstep, which can happen these days.”
At the moment, Starship says its robots would cost in the region of US$2,000, a cost the company thinks posts could easily recoup in last-mile savings.
Posts are watching this sort of technology with interest, keen to reduce last-mile costs and find new solutions. “We have been investigating and trying to understand what is going on at the moment. We are very interested in all these advances. So far aerial drones seem to be the most advanced but I think it will all progress very quickly,” argues Posti’s Rosenberg.
Swiss Post’s Mischler agrees: “I think the future will involve a combination of technologies, drones, robot postmen and self-driving vehicles. We will choose the most efficient.”
Driverless delivery The self-driving vehicle is another technology that is not too far off. Google pioneered the concept and now a race is on to bring a fully selfdriving autonomous vehicle to the market, which could have huge implications for post and last-mile delivery.
In February this year ( #2016 / #Drive-My ) #Google took a step toward developing an autonomous delivery solution when it was awarded a patent on self-driving delivery trucks that could deliver packages to homes. The patent explains that the truck would be full of compartments that people can open using a passcode or credit card. The vehicle would use radar, video cameras and range-finding lasers to see the road and traffic around it.
“Self-driving vehicles can have real implications for postal delivery. A postman parks his van, walks to deliver letters down a street, and then has to walk back to his van. That’s a lot of wasted time. What if the van could follow, park itself, or even move to the next delivery location, all while the postman is preparing deliveries?” asks Accenture’s Buhler. Major car makers, including #Audi , #Lexus , #BMW , #Mercedes and #Tesla are all developing the technology, and Volvo has a system that could be ready for trials on roads next year.
“Autopilot is an autonomous driving functionality that allows the driver to do something else behind the steering wheel when it is activated,” explains Volvo’s Marcus Rothoff, autonomous driving program director. At the moment the system is cloudcontrolled, so drivers will be limited to using it in quiet areas where there are few oncoming cars and low numbers of pedestrians. “The car is equipped with sensors to ensure the vehicle understands its surroundings.
Cameras, radars, ultrasonic sensors and lidar [laser radar] are used, as well as a detailed 3D digital map and a high-performance global positioning system so that the car knows exactly where it is and can navigate safely on the dedicated road sections,” Rothoff says. Next year Volvo will be trialling the system in Gothenburg – a pilot that will include 100 cars used by real consumers on public roads. It is hoped that the system will be commercially available by 2020.
But the technology will need to advance and cope with high-density areas if it is to benefit the postal service. “Low-speed autonomous driving is a potential next step for the automotive industry,” comments Rothoff. “Delivery solutions might be in the future. From a technology point of view, this should be possible within the next 5-10 years. Last-mile delivery, driving at low speeds, offers a safe application in less complex environments in about the same timeframe.”
Above: Volvo’s autonomous car will be trialled in Gothenburg in 2017 Below left: Sensors ensure the car understands its surroundings Below: Volvo customers will be able to remotely connect with their car.
Next-generation robots take over the warehouse In January 2016 transportation and logistics provider DB Schenker successfully completed the implementation of a new automated online order fulfillment and returns handling system in its Arlandastad Logistics Center near Stockholm, Sweden. The CarryPick solution, developed by Swisslog, is an automated storage and goods to person order picking system, which uses robots (also known as automated guided vehicles) to drive underneath mobile racks and deliver them to pick stations. The solution is operated DB Schenker for Lekmer.com, Scandinavia’s largest online toy retailer.
The CarryPick system runs on intelligent software that has been linked to a warehouse management system. Due to its modular design, the solution can be expanded to face seasonable peaks or growth in the customer’s business. According to DB Schenker, it increases staff productivity by up to 60%.
Anders Holmberg, business development manager, #DB-Schenker , Sweden, says, “With more than 60 robots and 1,550 mobile racks, we are able to manage 35,000 different articles, every day. And pick up to 40,000 orders per day.”
Autonomous technology could revolutionize delivery, but what sort of vehicles could we see delivering the parcels of tomorrow? Here are some ideas that could one day be on our streets.
In September 2015, #Posti carried out a four-day experiment to test the use of drones in mail delivery.
An idea by industrial design student Leighton McDonald, from Savannah, Georgia, USA, the RDV is aimed at city use. With a proposed extendable chassis, the vehicle can transport and deliver packages ranging in size from small parcels to large freight. The resizable vehicle transforms from a truck into a small transporter for smaller deliveries.
Proposed by innovation and design firm Ideo, Cody is a transparent vehicle made from a carbon-composite x-frame to save weight. The idea is that packages are tracked in real time and Cody uses algorithms to find the quickest route, can change destinations on demand, and can even sort packages inside using vacuum power and a robotic arm.
A concept by Israeli student #Kobi-Shikar , Transwheel is an autonomous robotic wheel that can combine with other Transwheels to carry packages of any size. With a selfbalancing system and electric arm to carry the load, Transwheel could carry cargo from single parcels to truck-sized loads by working with other units.
Created by freelance industrial designer #Martin-Rico from Buenos Aires, Argentina, Ecotranzit may look like a truck but its small size means it could ride on roads or sidewalks, carrying up to 110kg of parcels. Completely autonomous, it would be powered by a hydrogen fuel cell or battery pack, ensuring it is environmentally friendly and quiet.
Distribution truck with autonomous containers
Entered for the James Dyson Award by mechanical engineer and industrial design student Dubur Stéphane from France, the concept is aimed at last-mile delivery. The truck carries three autonomous electric containers, which can be unloaded at the edge of the city and then make their own way to the delivery location, reducing congestion and freeing the city from heavy goods vehicles.
In September #2015 , #Posti carried out a four-day experiment to test the use of drones in mail delivery.
Starship robots can be used to deliver parcels in suburban areas.
Matternet’s lightweight drone is set to transform last-mile logistics.
Swiss Post and Matternet have been testing drone delivery since July 2015.
For postal organizations to begin wide-scale drone operations, the first thing that will need to change is regulations. In the UK, the Civil Aviation Authority forbids unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) use within 150m (490ft) of a congested area and 50m (165ft) of a person. In the USA, the FAA forbids all commercial use of drones without special permission. However, many think the laws will soon change.
“What we will see is consumers, not commercial industries, driving a change in the regulations. So many people are using drones now, for photography and such like, there will have to be change,” comments Accenture’s Brody Buhler. “I think in the USA they are looking at some sort of register.
In some European countries, things are already becoming more flexible, allowing far more testing. “Here in Switzerland, the Federal Office of Civil Aviation is very progressive,” says Swiss Post’s Janick Mischler. “We have had many discussions about what we are planning to do and they are very open-minded. Flights over cities are not forbidden as long as we fulfill the requirements.”
“Whether we will see drone delivery in urban areas will definitely depend on the regulations,” adds Posti’s Jukka Rosenberg. “I know that the government in Finland is looking at it. I don’t think we will see drones landing outside buildings, but I can see a situation where we have drone hubs, where you can go to pick up and drop off a package.”Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
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