Arcimoto trials driverless delivery pod based on three-wheeled electric FUV
Eugene-based electric mobility company Arcimoto has teamed up with Silicon Valley autonomous driving startup Faction Technology to transform its three-wheeled electric Fun Utility Vehicle into a "driverless" pod for last-mile deliveries.
The cargo-carrying driverless flavor of the Fun Utility Vehicle (FUV) follows the reveal last year of a driverless Arcimoto prototype that was remotely controlled by human operatives, reportedly represented asing a step toward a future ride-on-demand service.
"Driverless combines autonomy with the ability to remote assist a vehicle when you need it, because the magic is really when the vehicle arrives driverlessly," said Faction founder and CEO, Ain McKendrick.
For the three-wheeled cargo application, Arcimoto engineers essentially ripped out the seats and motorcycle-like steering controls, added side panels and a cargo storage compartment, and fitted out the three-wheeler with autonomous driving tech like cameras, radar and LiDAR as well as DriveLink and TeleAssist platforms from Faction.
Unlike efforts from the likes of Nuro and Mobileye/Udelv, it seems as though the Arcimoto D1 is not aimed at cutting humans out of the driverless equation completely, as the company mentions combining autonomy with remote operation but there definitely won't be a human driver onboard.
As it's based on the FUV platform, the D1 will be capable of a top speed of 75 mph (120 km/h) and offer a per-charge all-electric range of more than 100 miles (160 km). Arcimoto says that it's expected to be capable of hauling up to 500 lb (226.8 kg) of cargo per trip, though hasn't given any details on how customers will access the goods at the roadside – presumably a mobile app or secure key code will come into play.
The cargo compartment can be custom configured to suit the needs of fleet operators, and the partnership believes that commercial service costs should add up to less than US$2 per mile for delivery operations.
"We’ve been thrilled to work with the Faction team to support driverless development on the Arcimoto platform," said Arcimoto's Mark Frohnmayer. "With a common mission of deploying ultra-efficient electric vehicles at scale, the commercial launch of the driverless D1 will be a game-changer for last-mile logistics."
Faction is looking to begin pilot testing this year, and is opening up pre-production vehicles to potential fleet customers now. Production is expected to start in 2023.
And this is not the only three-wheeled EV driverless technology partnership that Faction has inked this month. Last week the startup signed a memorandum of understanding with ElectraMeccanica to install driverless and remote operation technology on that company's Solo EV platform for food delivery and ride-on-demand pilot trials.