Mobileye to power Udelv’s automated electric delivery vehicles

Intel’s Mobileye has teamed with startup Udelv in an effort to put automated electric delivery vehicles into service in the United States by 2023.
Mobileye is supplying an automated driving system for Udelv’s new Transporter, a boxy electric shuttle without seats or cockpit that is designed specifically for delivery.

Udelv will not sell the vehicles, but will offer them as part of a subscription-based delivery-as-a-service package to commercial customers. The vehicles will not have human drivers. Udelv plans to offer a teleoperation feature with humans remotely assisting customers with vehicle loading and unloading.

Udelv is among at least half-a-dozen self-driving technology companies that are focusing on delivery of goods rather than robotaxis. The shift was triggered by the pandemic-driven boom in e-commerce and touchless delivery, as well as the belief that automated movement of goods faces fewer regulatory and legal hurdles than the transport of people.

General Motors earlier this year announced its BrightDrop electric commercial delivery vehicles and service. While Brightdrop does not include automated driving for now, GM’s majority-owned Cruise subsidiary continues to test self-driving shuttles for both goods delivery and human transport.

Alphabet Inc’s Waymo is also testing automated deliveries in a variety of commercial vehicles from several partners, while Inc’s Zoox subsidiary has designed a self-driving shuttle for both people and cargo transport. Neither company has laid out a specific timetable for commercial deployment.

Startups focused on automated delivery vehicles and services include Nuro, Gatik and Boxbot, all based in Northern California.

Udelv said it planned to build and deploy at least 35,000 of its new Transporters between 2023 and 2028, but would not say where those vehicles will be built or who will build them.

Until the new vehicle is ready for prototype testing in 2022 and commercial deployment in 2023, Udelv will continue to use converted Ford Transit Connect vans equipped with Udelv’s self-developed automation system, which Udelv’s chief executive and co-founder, Daniel Laury, said is based on Baidu’s Apollo self-driving software.

Laury said Udelv was switching from its own system because Mobileye offered “the best-in-class solution” with duplicate hardware stacks for extra safety in case one fails.

Mobileye said the company’s new Drive automated system is based on the new EyeQ5 system-on-a-chip and will be ready for testing in early 2022.

Udelv, a Silicon Valley venture-backed company, plans to produce more than 35,000 Mobileye-driven Transporters by 2028, with commercial operations beginning in 2023.

Donlen, one of America’s largest commercial fleet management companies, placed the first pre-order for 1,000 Transporters. This pre-order is believed to be the largest to date for an autonomous delivery vehicle.

Mobileye plans to deploy autonomous shuttles with Transdev ATS and Lohr Group beginning in Europe. Mobileye also plans to begin operating an autonomous ride-hailing service in Israel in early 2022.