For the past couple months Richmond, BC-based Novex Delivery Solutions has been testing a semi-autonomous car for use as a delivery vehicle.
The company, which bills itself as the "Lower Mainland's #1 green courier" bought a Tesla Model 3 to test and collect data on the vehicle to find out how its autonomous features might benefit the business. The trial was based on the company's belief that autonomous vehicles are the future.
The company says that based on the testing they will always have a human on board any autonomous vehicle in their fleet. “Autonomous vehicles are still quite a ways from being completely ‘driverless’, so that means there would still be someone present in the vehicle, and as a courier service, that would allow our couriers to prep for upcoming deliveries while the autonomous feature is activated to ensure better service when we reach our destination," said Brand Manager, Brett Surgenor.
The tests have also highlighted several practical obstacles in the autonomous model. "For example, it was often impractical for the customer to pick up their parcel from the vehicle since it was too bulky or heavy to move without a dolly. To solve this, we’re looking at a ‘white glove’ service, where we can liaise directly with a front desk or concierge of a multi-purpose building who could meet the vehicle out front," Surgenor said.
"This has been an eye opening and often heart pounding experience operating a semi-autonomous vehicle," he added. “The Tesla is an amazing car – it’s got some incredible features, and I know when we’re fully ready to launch, we’ll be able to give our clients some really exceptional customer service.”