As the last mile of delivery continues to evolve, fully autonomous and remote-controlled delivery vehicles will soon be making their way to the streets. But who is driving those vehicles and do they know what they are doing?
In the case of fully autonomous vehicles, the driving directions are incorporated into the software of the vehicle, which uses mapping, sensors and cameras for navigation. Remote-controlled vehicles, often referred to as teleoperated vehicles, though, require more human skill rather than artificial intelligence. These vehicles depend on an operator sitting in a remote location to see what the vehicle sees and respond accordingly.
It’s a little like a high-stakes game of Mario Kart.
Cleveron, an Estonia-based technology company that offers a number of solutions to retailers and brands around the world, saw this challenge and worked with a local driving school to craft a driving test for operators of its Cleveron 701 last-mile delivery vehicle concept.
The first four drivers, all employees of Cleveron, have passed the exam developed by LRK Driving School. The four have now received teleoperated vehicle certificates indicating they are qualified to navigate city streets with the Cleveron 701.
“The first four drivers who obtained the teleoperated vehicle driver certificate performed field exercise and city driving without errors. Here at Cleveron we can now be certain that it is indeed possible to drive an unmanned vehicle in the same way as a conventional car, and we are on the right track with the development of our vehicles,” said Taavi Purtsak, Cleveron’s testing process specialist, in a statement.
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Host Kaylee Nix talks to Cleveron Chief of Sales and Marketing Edith Väli about the Cleveron 701
Jaan Kleemann, a driver expert from LRK, said he was impressed with Cleveron’s vehicle engineering. He also passed the test, saying he took it as a way to identify the differences between a remotely operating vehicle and one with a driver in the driver’s seat.
“Based on my experience, I can say that Cleveron’s engineers have done an excellent job of developing a driverless vehicle that allows driving remotely as safe as driving a traditional car. In addition, the examinees were very well prepared – it only took them about five to six minutes to complete the field exercises, and they did all of them on the first attempt,” he said.
To receive the certificate, drivers first had to undergo special teleoperated vehicle training, followed by field exercises and city driving in accordance with the Estonian examination standards. The field exercises consisted of six different exercises with a time limit of 15 minutes. On average, the drivers completed the exercises in five minutes, Cleveron said.
The Cleveron 701 was designed to provide last-mile delivery solutions for retailers and logistics companies. It has been undergoing testing for the past nine months on the streets of Estonia but has worldwide potential, the company has said.
The flexible design of the Cleveron 701 allows for multiple body types to be installed, enabling temperature-controlled cargo for grocery or restaurant applications, traditional package cargo and even the potential for coffee or ice cream delivery. It is managed by a remote operator who can supervise up to 10 vehicles at a time, the company noted.
The vehicle features rechargeable batteries, has a maximum speed of 31 mph and can hold up to 440 pounds of cargo. It is designed for deliveries within a 15- to 30-mile radius.
Cleveron counts Zara, Albertsons, Asda, Woolworth’s, Falabella and DHL among its global client base.