Crossroads 2016: The Future of Package Delivery

Crossroads 2016: The Future of Package Delivery

PEV2A three-wheeled electric vehicle called the Persuasive Electric Vehicle (PEV) that can autonomously travel to pick up points in dense urban centers, is one of a fleet of innovative conveyances that could have a major impact on future logistics networks.

A prototype of the PEV, which is being developed as a collaboration between MIT’s Media Lab, the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT, and MIT CTL’s Megacity Logistics Lab, will be on display at Crossroads 2016, March 23rd, 2016, at the MIT campus.

The PEV project is sponsored by automotive technology company Denso, the National Science Foundation in the U.S., and the Industrial Development Bureau, Taiwan.

Sertac Karaman, Assistant Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics, MIT, will explain how autonomous vehicles such as the PEV are evolving and their likely operational roles. A leading expert on the technology, Karaman’s research also includes a project with a large manufacturer to develop an automated fork lift truck.

A prototype of the Persuasive Vehicle
The Persuasive Electric Vehicle. A prototype of the vehicle will be on display at the Crossroads 2016 conference

The PEV is designed to carry passengers – they can use either electric or pedal power to operate the vehicle – and to easily convert into a package carrier. Package delivery can take place during off-peak hours to defray operating costs, says PhD candidate Michael Chia-liang Lin, one of the MIT Media Lab researchers working on the project. The PEV’s ability to travel independently to pre-determined pickup locations achieves further savings by eliminating distribution costs. Lin estimates that for conventional vehicle systems such as Hubway, a bike sharing program in Boston, vehicle distribution represents about 50% of overall operating costs.

Commercial interest in automated vehicles such as the PEV is growing, says Karaman. Some companies are looking for solutions to traffic congestion problems in large urban centers; others want to keep pace with what could be a disruptive technology.

A number of major cities are also keen to stay ahead of the curve. An example that Karaman will reference in his Crossroads 2016 presentation is a proposed project in Singapore to build an underground tunnel for autonomous vehicles.

Seats are still available at the Crossroads 2016 conference, March 23, 2016, at the MIT campus, Cambridge, MA, U.S, but those interested in attending should sign up as soon as possible. Register for the event here.



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