GM has launched a new arm of its company called BrightDrop, with a focus on developing smart electric tools to help shipping companies like FedEx create fewer emissions and facilitate faster deliveries.
There are quite a few layers to BrightDrop’s plan, but it seems to focus on a new electric pallet for warehouses, an electric delivery vehicle and the software used to keep all of these systems in order.
The electric pallet has been christened the ‘EP1,’ and its goal is to move objects short distances like from a truck to your door or from a warehouse shelf to a delivery van.
BrightDrop says this device will come out in early 2021 and can go up to 3 mph (4 km/h) depending on how fast its user is walking. It can also carry 23 cubic feet of cargo and up to 200 pounds.
It also features lockable doors so that it can stay secure when it’s out helping a delivery person.
In a short video GM showed off, it looks like this large cabinet on wheels is designed to follow people around so they can stock it with items for delivery. The plus is that it can carry a lot of weight and pushes itself. This should help lessen the physical strain on the actual human delivering or sorting packages.
The EV600 is BrightDrop’s large electric delivery van built on GM’s Ultium battery tech with a 250-mile (402km) range.
This also allows the vans to have a peak charging rate of 170 miles per hour, which means the vehicle should be able to recharge nicely over a lunch break or at night.
In terms of storage space, GM says it has 600 cubic feet of storage space and can carry up to 10,000 pounds.
GM is also building this with a lot of its driver assistance tech, so it should be safer on the roads with things like rear cross-traffic braking, pedestrian detection, and lane-keeping assist.
The company also showed off a prototype version of a shuttle that could automatically load and unload a few EP1 pallets to make it super fast to load and unload these vehicles. This is something that GM is looking at adding in the future and the first models will be built more like a standard delivery truck.
To connect all of these machines, GM is building a software suite that can do things like monitor the EP’s battery life, location, lock/unlock the pallet and more.
Similar controls will be available for the other BrightDrop vehicles like the EV600 and other future concepts.