Handelsblatt Exclusive

DPD to Test Driverless Vans

  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    DPD and several other delivery firms want to cut costs by automating their services but bans on driverless vehicles mean they could be a long time coming.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • DPD is working with research university RWTH Aachen to explore options for automated package delivery.
    • It could start testing in three German cities by 2018.
    • Otto-subsidiary Hermes is already testing mini delivery robots in Hamburg.
  • Audio

    Audio

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DPD currently employs around 9,000 couriers in Germany. Source: DPD

As early as next year, parcel delivery vans could be rolling through three German cities without anyone at the wheel, as DPD, Europe’s second-largest logistics company tests options for automated vehicles, Handelsblatt has learned.

The company, which is owned by French postal service La Poste and delivers one in five parcels in Germany, plans to start the project in Hamburg, Karlsruhe and Ludwigsburg.

“We are talking to major automobile companies,” a company spokesman confirmed, adding it has yet to be decided which car maker will be selected.

DPD’s chief executive for Germany, Boris Winkelmann, is focusing on driverless transport vehicles as part of plans to expand business in the lucrative German market. The parcel delivery firm, which employs around 9,000 couriers, is working with research university RWTH Aachen on possible options.

One alternative the researchers suggested involves driverless delivery vehicles traveling from a logistics center to a meeting point on the outskirts of a city. There, couriers would hop in and bring the packages to their destinations.

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