UPS has begun testing the suitability and durability of electric vehicles, which also have autonomous driving capability, to move semi-trailers and containers on the grounds of its advanced-technology London Hub.
During the initial phase of the test, UPS will operate the vehicles – known as ‘shifters’ – with drivers in the cabs to evaluate vehicle operations and the efficiencies they generate.
Later this year, UPS will initiate autonomous driving operations.
The vehicles are provided by France’s Gaussin. They feature battery-swap technology, which enables the shifters to be operated day and night, as the discharged battery pack is immediately replaced by a fully charged one.
Additionally, the vehicles have numerous cameras, sensors and sophisticated algorithms to improve safety.
Carlton Rose, UPS president of global fleet maintenance and engineering, says: “Testing these electric and autonomous-capable shifters is part of UPS’s transformation strategy, which is enabled by technology and innovation. We continue to pursue and deploy the latest vehicle technology that has the potential to enhance our operational efficiency, while taking an evolving approach in implementing autonomous vehicle technologies.”
Christophe Gaussin, Gaussin chief executive officer, adds: “Our shifters will save maintenance and energy costs. Our unique battery swap system will allow continuous operations and will contribute to UPS’s operational efficiency and productivity increases.”
Gaussin and UPS Engineering teams have been working in close collaboration since 2018 to co-develop a versatile, upgradable and competitive electric shifter vehicle.