With the support of the start-up accelerator betahausX, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles and Hermes Europe has launched the Future Logistics Challenge. The contests aim is to generate the best possible synergies between parcel logistics, the automotive sector and start-ups to find innovative solutions for the ecosystem of “vehicle – parcel delivery courier”.
Up to 23 September 2019, start-ups from all over Europe are being called on to apply with ideas that redefine the categories of “Delivery Driver Experience” and “Smart Delivery Vehicle” and thus support the work of tens of thousands of parcel delivery operatives all over Europe and make them more efficient.
The starting points here for developing new concepts for the ecosystem of “vehicle – parcel delivery courier” are many and varied, ranging from predictive analysis via multi-modal networks, vehicle infrastructure, artificial intelligence and machine learning, optimisation of communications or digital workflow management through to interactive driver apps. Ten start-ups will be selected from the pool of applicants and will then be able to thoroughly test their ideas with experts from Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles and Hermes and finely tune their proposed solutions during a two- day boot camp on 21 and 22 October in Berlin.
On 5 November, the ten finalists will have the opportunity to present their proposed solution to a high-calibre panel of judges in betahaus Berlin. The two most promising approaches will receive support of up to €125,000, enabling them to continue developing their solution with Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles and Hermes Europe to produce a proof of concept.
“The delivery vehicle is crucially important in the everyday routine of package couriers and is one of the key working resources,” explained Susanne Brand, Head of Innovation at Hermes Europe. “The environment on the ‘last mile’ is tremendously important for parcel logistics and is becoming more and more demanding: the quantities of consignments are growing while space within inner cities is becoming increasingly scarce and the search for couriers ever more challenging. Digital concepts that connect vehicles, couriers and logistics processes with each other to the optimum and in a new way offer great potential for making the work of parcel couriers easier and at the same time more efficient.”
Mobility and logistics are among the most dynamic and challenging areas of development at present, yet are at the centre of important issues concerning consumer activity, transport and the future design of communal life in urban and rural areas. Parcel logistics providers and the automotive industry are linked here not only by an intensive transformation process but also by a collaborative partnership in the continuing development of vehicle fleets for use in parcel logistics. With the volume of consignments rising all the time on an increasingly complex last mile, the vehicle acquires a key function. Artur Hasselbach, Head of New Business Development at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, mentioned that on the path from pure vehicle manufacturer to mobility services provider, VWCV customers and their requirements constantly occupy the centre of attention in the development process: “Innovative customers not only need innovative vehicles but also innovative mobility solutions together with appropriate concepts and partners. In order to meet these new requirements, we are changing from a vehicle manufacturer to a platform operator or participant so that we are able to promote both internal and external innovations.”
In a process of interaction with the delivery service, the parcel transporter of the future, by using intelligent, digital solutions, has a tremendous potential to reshape the delivery process to make it even more efficient and hence more ecological and cost-effective. Consequently, alongside alternative drive systems, the development of fully-integrated vehicle concepts that are optimally geared to the logistics application are becoming more and more important.
Back in 2018, as part of the “Innovation Challenge”, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles (VWCV) started collaborating with and promoting future entrepreneurs: over 70 start-ups from more than ten countries applied with their concepts for mobility, transport or connectivity solutions focusing on lightweight commercial vehicles. Three winners emerged from this who were concerned with problems of charging electric vehicles and with e-cargo bikes for the last mile.
VWCV provided each of the start-ups with a budget of up to €50,000 in order to test their product/service on potential customers within the scope of joint pilot projects.