Selfdriving companion: With ZF sensor technology as well as the ProAI control unit, developed jointly by ZF and NVIDIA, Deutsche Post DHL will upgrade its fleet of up to 3,400 “Streetscooter” vehicles to be autonomous on the last mile.

Selfdriving companion: With ZF sensor technology as well as the ProAI control unit, developed jointly by ZF and NVIDIA, Deutsche Post DHL will upgrade its fleet of up to 3,400 “Streetscooter” vehicles to be autonomous on the last mile.

Deutsche Post DHL (DPDHL) is planning to deploy a test fleet of autonomous drive (AD) delivery trucks - some 3,400 vehicles - starting in 2018. As part of the plans, ZF and NVIDIA will partner to supply key technologies.

DPDHL will outfit its electric light trucks with the ZF Pro AI self-driving system, based on NVIDIA DRIVE PX technology, for automating package transportation and delivery, including the "last mile" of deliveries. Taking packages from a central point to their final destination is considered the most complex and costliest aspect of courier and e-commerce deliveries, NVIDIA says.

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 artificial intelligence 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.

"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."

"The development of autonomous delivery vehicles demonstrates how AI and deep learning are also reshaping the commercial transportation industry," said Jensen Huang, founder and chief executive officer of NVIDIA. "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."

"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 to reinforce our position as the industry´s innovation leader."

"In its StreetScooter fleet, Deutsche Post DHL is taking its next step with our current and future generation of surround sensor technology and ZF ProAI artificial intelligence brain powered by NVIDIA," said ZF Chief Executive Officer Dr. Stefan Sommer.

"The ZF ProAI is the brain between our autonomous driving sensor set to detect and understand the environment and vehicle motion control based on ZF's outstanding mechanical competence – the entire system follows our 'see – think – act' approach". Sommer: "In supply logistics and on the last mile where autonomous driving has tremendous benefits, goods can be delivered independent of the time of the day and delivery staff, with minimal noise and emissions, thus significantly reducing traffic congestion in city centres."

To develop these AI delivery vehicles, DPDHL has already configured its datacenter with the NVIDIA DGX-1 AI supercomputer for training its neural networks. It will then run its 'deep learning' models on the truck's NVIDIA DRIVE PX platform. A prototype delivery vehicle uses 6 cameras, one radar, and two lidar all feeding into the DRIVE PX.