One of the world’s largest mail and logistics companies Deutsche Post DHL Group will deploy a test fleet of autonomous delivery trucks next year.

In partnership with NVIDIA and automotive parts supplier ZF, the parcel company is working to reduce the cost of last mile deliveries.

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DPDHL will outfit electric light trucks with the ZF ProAI self-driving system, based on NVIDIA Drive PX technology, to automate package transportation and delivery to homes.

“The last mile” — taking packages from a central point to their final destinations — is considered the most complex and costliest aspect of courier and ecommerce deliveries.

DPDHL currently has a fleet of 3,400 StreetScooter electric delivery vehicles, which can be equipped with ZF’s multiple sensors, including cameras, lidar and radar, that feed into the ZF ProAI system.

This will enable the vehicle to use AI to understand its environment, plan a safe path forward, proceed along a selected route and park itself — ensuring deliveries can be made with greater accuracy and safety, and at lower cost.

“The development of autonomous delivery vehicles demonstrates how AI and deep learning are also reshaping the commercial transportation industry,” said Jensen Huang, NVIDIA founder and CEO. “As online shopping continues to explode, and the shortage of truck drivers becomes more dire, AI-enabled vehicles will be key to providing last-mile delivery services.”

A prototype delivery vehicle was unveiled this week which uses six cameras, one radar and two lidar — all feeding into the NVIDIA Drive PX platform. To develop these AI delivery vehicles, DPDHL has already configured its data center with the NVIDIA DGX-1, an AI supercomputer for training its neural networks. It will then run its deep learning models on the truck’s NVIDIA Drive PX platform.

“Research and development of ecological, economical and efficient transportation will bring dramatic changes to the logistics industry,” said Jürgen Gerdes, member of the Board of Management at Deutsche Post AG.

“Partnering with NVIDIA and ZF will enable us to responsibly support this development, benefit from it and reinforce our position as the industry’s innovation leader.”

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