Parcel delivery firms have proved endlessly creative in their quest to trim last-mile delivery costs, experimenting with everything from airborne drones to self-driving robots. But if the drones and droids don't work out, they might find inspiration from another—albeit unlikely—source: residential garbage pickup.
Swedish automaker Volvo Group has developed a self-driving garbage truck that automatically backs down neighborhood streets while its driver walks ahead of the vehicle, collecting garbage cans and tipping them into the waiting truck bed. Reverse that process, and you just might have a model for automated package delivery.
The garbage truck follows a preprogrammed route, using sensors to continuously monitor the vehicle's immediate environs and avoid obstacles. In the name of eco-friendliness, the vehicle's gear-changing, steering, and speed are constantly optimized to minimize fuel consumption and emissions. Volvo will test the truck through the end of 2017 through a partnership with Swedish waste and recycling specialist Renova. Watch a video of the truck below.