UPS team up with Waymo to test autonomous delivery vehicles

By Lauren Fruncillo January 31, 2020 - 8:00 am

UPS have teamed up with Waymo, a driverless car development company to test autonomous delivery vehicles. The Chrysler Pacifica minivans will be piloted by Waymo in Phoenix, the capital of Arizona, a state where autonomous vehicles are already on the roads.

During the driverless vehicle pilot, packages will be delivered from UPS store’s to local UPS sorting facility’s for processing. The vehicles will be manned and monitored by a Waymo driver and packages will not yet be delivered to consumers, probably a smart move for now. Both companies hope this will lead them to a long-term partnership.

In the past, UPS also partnered with autonomous truck company TuSimple who are currently driving two trips daily for them. Last year after only months of testing, it was announced that UPS would make a ‘minority’ investment in TuSimple. Clearly UPS are keen on expanding their progress with autonomous delivery.

Autonomous dangers

The scary reality with automated vehicles is the risk to other drivers and pedestrians, the technology is still fairly recent and testing them on public roads is a necessity for adequate development. If there wasn’t any worry about driverless vehicles being dangerous they wouldn’t be sent out with people inside. As reported in 2018 a pedestrian was killed in Arizona by a Tesla driver who didn’t have his hands on the wheel, if humans can’t act fast enough in life or death situations, what happens when a human isn’t inside?

We’ve seen how those cute autonomous takeaway robots work but I have a few questions on how autonomous delivery would work for consumers. Hopefully these will be answered in time…

  • If each package were individually locked away similarly to an Amazon locker, less space will be available than conventional delivery trucks. How many packages would an automated delivery vehicle realistically carry?
  • How long would autonomous delivery vehicles wait outside homes before driving away? There is no driver to push unwanted parcels on unsuspecting neighbours.
  • How would driverless vehicles cope in the stressful parking situations of narrow and busy streets?
  • Will autonomous vehicles experience road rage?

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