Hermes and VW being voice assistant trial to streamline delivery operation

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles and Hermes has launched a new trial with German firm Neohelden to explore the use of an in-vehicle voice assistant to streamline delivery services.

The system, which is integrated into the vehicles infotainment system, can be used for onboarding, assisting during the first few delivery runs or an overview of the parcels handed on. There is also a conversational interface that is being developed.

Drivers can see and hear, during their round, what's coming up, have all orders to hand displayed as a list and can select the next delivery by touch or voice command.

If they wish, they can have the system read out the most relevant details about the next delivery, such as recipient name, address, type of delivery, any particular place where the parcel should be left and any preferred neighbour to leave it with.

Using voice control the delivery staff member is also able to ask for further details about each item on the job list. The aim is to save a significant amount of time in the area of the delivery address and to ease the challenging workload, especially at times of high parcel volume, rush-hour traffic or at unknown locations.

Lynsey Aston, head of product, innovation and onboarding at Hermes UK, said: “Our network of over 27,000 couriers are working hard to deliver ever- increasing volumes driven by the natural growth of e-commerce. On top of that, the pandemic has seen our volumes soar to more than 630 million parcels over the last year and we’ve grown our teams and network of self- employed couriers, which has meant a lot of new starters to onboard, fast. Anything that helps us to do this quicker and supports our couriers in delivering more safely and efficiently is really important, so we’re excited to be part of this trial in partnership with our Innovation Lab team.”

As one of 180 entrants from all over Europe in the Future Logistics Challenge run by Hermes and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles to find the most promising solutions in the areas of ‘Delivery Driver Experience’ and ‘Smart Delivery Vehicles’, Neohelden came out top alongside a project from start-up Viscopic.

“The challenge lies in developing helpful apps like this for the existing everyday delivery routine and for existing electronics infrastructure in the vehicle and on hand-held devices,” explains Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles project leader Artur Hasselbach.

Throughout March the system will be tested by multiple drivers on real delivery rounds at a trial location in the Greater London area.

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