NEWS - 2023/06/01

LogiSmile Continues its Development in 2023 with Technological Advancements and a Pilot in Braunschweig

Ona robot LogiSmile 2023

The number of goods carried in metropolitan areas will increase dramatically in the next few years. Deliveries are becoming more frequent and fragmented, especially because of the skyrocketing use of e-commerce. Current logistics practices in urban centres may have adverse consequences effects, such as increased traffic, problems with the safety of cyclists, delivery vehicles, and pedestrians, as well as the emission of harmful air pollutants. The subject of last-mile logistics and its challenges has also drawn significant interest from the scientific community, and CARNET has been working actively in this area for a long time. One of the papers [1] written by a UPC doctoral candidate working at CARNET has been published on this subject, exploring how the e-commerce boom has increased the complexity of last-mile logistics operations in urban environments and potential solutions.

To tackle all these challenges, a novel last-mile delivery system using autonomous ground vehicles for logistics operations was demonstrated in the first year of the LogiSmile project. The cutting-edge autonomous delivery system consists of an autonomous hub vehicle (AHV) that works in cooperation with smaller autonomous delivery devices (ADD), which are coordinated by a back-end control centre. The ADD prototype called Ona, and the AHV prototype named PLUTO can be operated separately, depending on the needs of future end users. Nevertheless, the main innovation of the project resides in the collaboration of the 2 robots, which has the potential to decrease last-mile logistics operation costs greatly.

Following the success of the first year, LogiSmile’s Kick-off meeting last May marked the beginning of the project’s second phase where the new partners were also introduced to the rest of the Consortium. The project in the year 2023 continues being under the coordination of CARNET, in close collaboration with Barcelona Metropolitan Area, Citylogin, Cluster Catalonia Logistics, Delivery Couple, Esplugues de Llobregat city council, Last Mile Autonomous Delivery LMAD, Niedersächsisches Forschungszentrum Fahrzeugtechnik (NFF), NMS Hamburg, PTV GROUP, Spanish Directorate-General for Traffic,  Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, the city of Braunschweig, Vaive Logistics, and Volkswagen Group.

In this second part of the LogiSmile project, the consortium will validate the integrated solution considering both robots’ cooperation on-site in a new testbed in Braunschweig with a different urban environment.  The participation of a logistic operator in the piloting phase will provide stronger commercial action, ensuring a more business-oriented demonstration. In addition, the autonomous delivery market status, main players and potential clients of the joint transportation management system solution will be explored, as well as their scalability plan for deploying and commercialising its service.

Partners in this consortium also aim to demonstrate to decision-makers and city planners that autonomous distribution is safe and that a sustainable deployment is feasible. Freight autonomous vehicles will likely be introduced to the market before passenger autonomous vehicles since they offer fewer safety and liability concerns. As a first step towards the robotization of urban operations, autonomous delivery robots are expected to increase user acceptance of autonomous technologies, ultimately facilitating the emergence of passenger autonomous vehicles. Moreover, the solution proposed within our project will be a great opportunity to set the ground for a harmonious deployment of autonomous technology in cooperation with European cities and bridge the technological gap that exists between Europe and the United States or China.

The LogiSmile project is co-funded by EIT Urban Mobility, an initiative of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), a body of the European Union.

[1] Lemardelé, C., Estrada, M., Pagès, L., & Bachofner, M. (2021). Potentialities of drones and ground autonomous delivery devices for last-mile logistics. Transportation Research Part E: Logistics and Transportation Review, 149, 102325.