This is what the autonomous delivery vehicle of the future will look like – eCommerce Magazin


  • The new test vehicle VanAssist shows how autonomous vehicles can save walking and driving distances on parcel tours.
  • Focus of the DPD project Germany is to assist the human worker with parcel delivery.
  • A test with the new delivery vehicle VanAssist in road traffic is planned.

VanAssist is a cooperation project between DPD and partners from science and business. The aim is to conserve human resources, counteract the density of traffic in metropolitan areas and drive forward the reduction of emissions. For this purpose, an autonomously driving electric vehicle was developed for parcel delivery.

During the development, the partners involved focused on designing the autonomous vehicle in such a way that it can meet the constantly increasing requirements on the last mile of parcel delivery. Above all, the routes and routes on a package tour should be optimized. Accordingly, thanks to intelligent navigation software, the test vehicle is able to independently drive to stopping points and react to changes in road traffic in real time.

Parcel delivery: delivery vehicle in rendezvous mode

The VanAssist test vehicle works in the so-called rendezvous mode. This provides that the vehicle can cover the distance from the depot to the delivery area autonomously. The delivery person only gets on at a predefined meeting point. Whenever the deliverer then delivers a parcel, the vehicle automatically drives to the next set stop for the parcel delivery. The delivery vehicle always waits for the parcel deliverer exactly at the point where he needs the next parcel or would like to be taken to the next address.

If the planned stopping point is not available, the vehicle uses a specially programmed smartphone app to inform the delivery driver at which alternative point it will be waiting for him. The app control also makes it possible to flexibly adapt delivery routes as required. Indoor navigation has also been integrated, which quickly guides the deliverer in large office or industrial complexes inside the building to the transfer point to be controlled. In perspective, these functions make the daily work of the parcel delivery service much easier. There is no need to search for parking spaces and addresses; instead, employees can concentrate on delivering the parcel.

Parcel delivery DPD
The test vehicle developed in the VanAssist project takes over the navigation in road traffic and can also search for parking spaces independently. (Image: DPD)

VanAssist shows future parcel delivery needs

For DPD Germany, the VanAssist funding project primarily shows which developments are required to integrate autonomous delivery vehicles into everyday work. “Our tests have shown that we need a control center that always intervenes if something unforeseen happens on the tour where the vehicle cannot independently decide what to do. This can be a hidden sensor or a blocked road, ”explains Gerd Seber, Group Manager City Logistics & Sustainability at DPD Germany.

“We have recognized that we have to fundamentally rethink our route planning. In the future, it will not only be relevant to which address we bring a parcel, but also where we can identify nearby stopping points for this parcel and store them in the system. ”But the implementation of autonomous driving and delivery solutions will also be new for cities Give challenges. “On the one hand, we need standardized, intelligent traffic lights and traffic signs. On the other hand, we need loading zones that can be reserved specifically for delivery traffic, to which we can navigate our vehicles, ”continues Seber.

Eight companies and universities are involved in the project

In order to be able to continue working and researching on the topic of autonomous driving, the test vehicle is to be used in a practical test in the next step in road traffic. So far, the driving behavior could only be assessed on a university test site.

The following companies and universities are partners in the project:

  • BridgingIT GmbH
  • DPD Germany GmbH
  • Offenburg University – Institute for Reliable Embedded Systems and Communication Electronics
  • IAV GmbH – engineering company for cars and traffic
  • Ibeo Automotive Systems GmbH
  • NFF, Technical University of Braunschweig – Institute for Vehicle Technology
  • NFF, Clausthal University of Technology – Institute for Software and Systems Engineering
  • Project coordinator: ZENTEC Center for Technology, Business Start-ups and Cooperation GmbH

The autonomous delivery vehicle VanAssist is a project from DPD Germany and Partner. (Video: DPD)

the DPD Germany GmbH belongs to the international DPDgroup, Europe’s largest parcel service network. DPD has 79 depots and 7,000 pick-up parcel shops across Germany. 9,500 employees and 11,000 deliverers work for customers every day. The number two in the German parcel market transports more than 400 million parcels a year – completely climate-neutral and at no additional cost for customers. With innovative technologies and an orientation towards customer needs, DPD offers a convenient and flexible service for B2B and B2C parcel shipping. (sg)