There are a variety of different autonomous vehicles of all shapes and sizes coming to market: From the cargo vans of Udelv, to the pod-like R2 from Nuro, all the way down to the cooler sized sidewalk robots from Starship.
Chinese company Pix Moving is taking a bit of a different approach to autonomous vehicles by removing most of the vehicle. The company is building a self-driving chassis platform on top of which its customers can build whatever they like.
So a big restaurant chain could create a mobile pod of lockers for meal delivery, or a grocery store could create a temperature-controlled store on wheels. A large warehouse-type store could just attach a flat base for moving inventory around.
PIX’s chassis is electric and low-speed, which allows it to sidestep some of the more complex regulations associated with full-sized, full-speed autonomous vehicles. All four wheels of the PIX chassis are steerable, making it highly maneuverable. It’s also 3D printed, so its lightweight and there are fewer parts. And, like any autonomous vehicle, it is packed with an array of sensors and cameras to navigate and avoid obstacles.
I spoke with Chase Cao, PIX COO, by phone this week and he explained that his company is currently navigating the rules and regulations both in China and the U.S. to get its self-driving platform running on public roads. In the meantime, its chassis is being used on some private corporate campuses in both countries. Right now, PIX sells its chassis outright, though Cao said they may look at more of a leasing model in the future.
PIX is worth watching, especially as it relates to food delivery, because of the flexibility of its platform. By pushing the design of the compartments that carry the cargo to its customers (restaurants, grocers, etc.), those compartments can be tailored to a specific set of needs (size, temperature, etc.). This can then create more efficient delivery, and thereby generating even more demand for autonomous delivery.
In other words, there will be even more variety of self-driving vehicles coming to our roads.