German logistics giant Deutsche Post DHL Group is partnering with Nvidia and auto supplier ZF to deploy a test fleet of autonomous delivery trucks next year.
Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang made the announcement at the GPU Technology Conference in Munich, Germany. Nvidia is known as a graphics processing chipmaker. But the company has been diversifying new technologies, notably artificial intelligence and self-driving cars.
Deutsche Post will outfit its StreetScooter electric delivery vehicles with ZF’s self-driving system called ProAI—basically the brain of the car, which is powered with Nvidia’s Drive PX technology. ZF’s package of sensors that include cameras, radar, and light ranging and detection radar known as LiDAR will connect to the self-driving system.
A prototype delivery vehicle unveiled Tuesday at GTC uses six cameras, one radar and two LiDar, all of which feed into the Nvidia Drive PX platform. Drive PX is an AI supercomputer that’s powerful enough to process data from the vehicle’s cameras and sensors, an AI algorithm-based operating system, and a cloud-based high-definition 3D map that constantly updates.
These self-driving delivery trucks will not replace the driver, Danny Shapiro, senior director of automotive at Nvidia, told Fortune. But it will “improve the efficiency of this delivery person,” he said. For instance, a delivery truck could park itself and then be summoned by the driver at the other end of a large retail or apartment complex after multiple deliveries at that location have been made.
Ultimately, this system could enable 24-hour package delivery, where fleets of autonomous delivery trucks could bring packages to people who have ordered items online.
“The development of autonomous delivery vehicles demonstrates how AI and deep learning are also reshaping the commercial transportation industry,” Huang said in a statement. “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.”