The new Transporter marks a couple of shifts for Udelv. First, the Transporter abandons the company’s traditional cargo delivery van form factor in favor of a more pod-like “skateboard” vehicle. The box shape is larger than the Nuro pod, and there is no longer space for a driver. Details such as range weren’t provided, but the Transporter is capable of traveling at 65 mph.
In addition to a new shape, Udelv is also shifting strategy by licensing out the self-driving technology from Mobileye. Up until this point, Udelv had been developing its own autonomous driving system. Mobileye Drive has EyeQTM SoC-based L4 compute, sensors and software and Mobileye’s Road Experience Management AV mapping solution. The Transporters will be capable of Level 4 self-driving, point-to-point operation. Udelv’s teleoperation system will allow the vehicles to be manually controlled for more complex situations such as parking lots, loading zones, apartment complexes and private roads.
One thing the new Transporters don’t have is temperature-controlled cargo bays. When asked about that during a live video press conference last week, Udelv Co-Founder and CEO Daniel Laury said that the company decided to forego refrigeration and temperature control to save on battery power. He also said that Udelv’s existing cargo bay setup provided ample temperature control for roughly an hour, even in the 110 degree weather of Phoenix, Arizona. He also said that frozen foods should be shipped with ice packs.
While the Transporter can do consumer deliveries, Udelv is focused on B2B deliveries, calling the middle mile low-hanging fruit. As we’ve seen with Gatik, limiting delivery routes to fixed, repeatable points (e.g., distribution warehouse to store location) avoids the complications that come with consumer deliveries. This in turn can make middle-mile delivery vehicles easier to pass muster with regulatory bodies and get on the roads faster.
Udelv and Mobileye plan to produce more than 35,000 Transporters by 2028, with commercial operations starting in 2023. The companies have their firs pre-order of 1,000 vehicles from Donlen, a U.S. commercial fleet leasing and management company.