Swiss research lab EPFL is testing out a driverless delivery van from a Chinese supplier across its campus.
The Autonomously Delivered Orders from Restaurants at EPFL (ADORE) project will use self-driving electric vehicles to deliver meals and other products over the next few months. The project partners are Mobility Lab (a joint initiative between EPFL, HES-SO Valais-Wallis, Swiss Post, the City of Sion and the Canton of Valais), Neolix, FixPosition and Takinoa.
The electric-powered delivery van from NeoLix is 1 meter wide, just under 3 meters long and 1.8 meters high. It’s equipped with over 15 sensors, 5 cameras, a touch screen and a satellite antenna that employs technology allowing the vehicle to be continuously located. It carries food and other goods in its 11 side boxes, which are locked with a code. Although the van can theoretically travel at up to 50 km/h, its speed will be capped at 6 km/h on campus and a student will always accompany it.
The pilot test is scheduled to take place in three phases. The first will last around two weeks, during which the operators will familiarize themselves with the vehicle and the EPFL community will be informed about this newcomer to campus. The van will operate under its regular self-driving conditions on a route programmed into its navigation system; the route will span the Esplanade, Rolex Learning Center, Starling hotel and the Estudiantines. Stops with informative billboards have been set up at the planned delivery and presentation points. Members of the EPFL community will be able to learn more about this new service at these points from Monday to Thursday from 11am to 1pm, when they will be able to play a guessing game to win small prizes.
The second phase will also last two weeks and will entail delivering meals to a test group of users. The van will pick up meals independently (but with a student closeby) at the Takinoa restaurant in the