Our Prototypes column introduces new vehicle concepts and presents visuals from designers who illustrate the ideas. Some of them will be extensions of existing concepts, others will be new, some will be production ready, and others really far-fetched.
The UPEX is a futuristic hydrogen-fuelled electric urban shipping truck concept, which requires no driver. UPEX would be similar to the Otobuxi concept, but adapted to deliver parcels. Each UPEX would be paired with a humanoid delivery robot that would sort and deliver parcels in urban areas and manage the flow of orders in real time based on priority and location.
All across the world, there are thousands of courier services that deliver parcels by truck in our cities. It’s been like this for over a hundred years, but with the arrival of driverless technology and robotics, would it be possible to envision a different system?
I asked Xavier Gordillo to conceptualise this idea and find inspirations from the NEXTAGE robot, already being developed by Kawada Industries.
How It Works
The UPEX would be powered by a hydrogen fuel cell, delivering 200 hp to its four wheels. (4WD would be optional). This cell, located under the floor, would use hydrogen or gasoline to generate electricity and provide power to UPEX’s electric motor. The vehicle would also save up to 25 per cent of its energy by utilizing regenerative braking.
This autonomous truck would feature a van’s interior cargo space without seats or windows in which the robot would organise and store all the parcels. The pickup and delivery schedule would be calculated in real time by interacting with the shipping company’s central system and local traffic.
To design the UPEX, Xavier consulted the various sizes of North American urban delivery truck (UPS, Purolator, FedEx) With these dimensions in mind, he created a simple, spacious, and slightly aerodynamic delivery truck; then he added the sensors and equipment necessary for autonomous driving.
We wanted to eliminate the necessity of using a loading dock, so we created a side door that doubles as a ramp with a scratch-resistant body panel. The lower part of this side door pivots down and the top portion slides up on rollers to create enough space for the NEXTAGE’s robot to travel in or out of the UPEX. The Robot would record videos of its deliveries to help its technician improve its performance and customer experience.
There are no front or back ends on this truck concept. Therefore, it will be possible for the UPEX to ride in both directions as needed. Each wheel of the truck would also be able to steer. This feature would come in handy for parking in dense urban streets or getting out of tight spots.
What It’s Used For
The UPEX will transport merchandise, just as any shipping truck does today, except that it will require no driver, it will not pollute the atmosphere, and it will be much quieter and more effective. In my vision of the future (15-30 years), these autonomous delivery trucks could make their deliveries silently during the night. Each robot would make sure to deliver your package exactly where you want it and record the whole process.
This vehicle could also serve to develop the Otobuxi driverless bus concept. They both feature the same technology and have the same specifications in terms of payload, driving environment and durability.
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