Many have been concerned at the efforts of the global automotive industry to design, develop, and engineer self driving vehicles. Some say the technology is going to be extremely boring, that it will kill driving enjoyment, and that they won't apply in countries like ours.
But truth be told, automotive companies are not really focused on working on self-driving technologies for your next passenger car. While some of today's (and tomorrow's) family saloons or SUVs will have some degree of autonomous tech like a smart cruise control system, the true focus of the industry was to meet the needs of commercial mobility.
So it's no surprise that China's Dongfeng Automobile Company, or DFAC, has just premiered their first autonomous delivery vehicle. And yes, it was actually driverless.
Called the Sharing Van, this model is touted as the future of the delivery van. The design itself is quite futuristic with the unusual front end for a truck, as well as the 64 visible compartments or "Sharing Boxes" that appear more like little lockers. There are 32 of these boxes on either side.
The Sharing Van has the latest in Dongfeng's full electric drive technology which is derived from the EV systems they have already been using extensively for city buses in China. DFAC didn't release and data on its performance or driving range though.
The Sharing van also uses the 5G technology for connectivity, and relies on the “cloud” for directions for pick-up and delivery. The vehicle also uses a variety of sensors to detect obstacles on the road, as well as a series of cameras to read road signs and markings.
The company says that they developed the technology together with Chinese phone giant Huawei as well as the regional government of Shenyang. They plan to fully test the technology in the coming years in Shenyang, and hope to use it in the future to help address the need for more truck and delivery drivers in a world where online shopping has become very commonplace.
We'll have to wait and see if -in the future- our Lazada, Shopee, or Alibaba orders be delivered by something like the Sharing Van.