UPS testing autonomous shifters at London hub

UPS is testing the suitability of autonomous electric vehicles that will work solely on the ground of its advanced technology London hub.

The Gaussin electric vehicles, also known as ‘shifters’ that move containers and semi-trailers around the hub, will initially be tested with drivers in the cabs to assess vehicle operations and the efficiencies. Later this year they are to be fully autonomous.

“These tests are part of a major UPS effort to integrate electric vehicles throughout our global network. Gaussin’s shifters will help cut our fuel costs and reduce emissions,” said Juan Perez, UPS chief information and engineering officer. “We’re also eager to test the shifters in autonomous driving mode. This is a great opportunity for us to evaluate technologies on our own property.”

The Gaussin electric shifters have zero tailpipe-emissions and have a battery-swap technology that reduces downtime in charging and permits them to be operated 24/7. They use cameras, Lidar and AI systems to improve safety.

“Testing these electric and autonomous-capable shifters is part of UPS’s transformation strategy, which is enabled by technology and innovation,” said Carlton Rose, UPS president of global fleet maintenance and engineering. “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.”

Gaussin and UPS Engineering teams have been in close collaboration since 2018 to co-develop a versatile, upgradable and competitive electric shifter vehicle. The Gaussin shifter UPS is testing in London can move trailers, semi-trailers and containers in both manual and autonomous mode.

“This collaboration with UPS brought valuable insights to Gaussin engineering teams, and we are pleased to see the vehicle in live operations,” said Christophe Gaussin, Gaussin chief executive officer. “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.”