LONDON, U.K. – Ford Mobility’s pioneering Last Mile Delivery service that connects van drivers with pedestrian and cycle couriers is set to undergo a further trial in London after receiving a seal of approval from the city’s Mayor as part of an innovation competition.
The Ford Last Mile Delivery service is one of six innovative projects that have been selected to work closely with Transport for London (TFL) and their partners including DPD, UPS and Royal Mail to help tackle road congestion caused by freight deliveries.
The six winners were chosen from around 50 entries to the London Freight Lab challenge - part of the Mayor of London’s Civic Innovation Challenge bringing together London’s public and private sectors with tech companies. The winners will each receive a £20,000 grant to be put towards the pilots after a highly competitive pitching and selection contest.
Trialled for the first time last year, Ford’s Last Mile Delivery service is driven by Ford’s intelligent cloud‑based, multi‑modal routing and logistics software MoDe:Link, that manages all aspects of parcel delivery from depot to doorstep.
This innovative software helps couriers, fleet managers, logistics companies and retailers optimise delivery operations and increase van utilisation, saving time and money while boosting capacity. All are key factors for success as the urban goods sector transitions to greener more sustainable operations.
“Our goal is to keep larger vehicles like delivery vans operating in the high‑load, high speed, less‑congested environments in which they perform best” said Tom Thompson, the Last Mile project lead at Ford Mobility. “For the last mile of a journey in an urban area, where congestion and lack of parking can be a challenge, it makes sense to offload deliveries to more nimble, efficient and cost‑effective modes of transport such as pedestrian and cycle couriers.”
“During the trials with Gnewt last year, the Ford team showed that in these urban scenarios van drivers working together with teams of pedestrian or cycle couriers could deliver benefits for everyone by making cities safer and more pleasant places to live and work in. Since then the Ford team has been working hard to migrate the software to a production footing and ready the business for scaled operations in further trials planned for this year.”
Ford Mobility estimates that this approach could increase the productivity of delivery vans currently operating within the last mile by over 300 per cent.
“We know that using new routing and scheduling algorithms offers lots of advantages,” added Thompson. “By working closely with TFL and its partners at Freight Lab we will have access to unique insights, cutting-edge expertise, data and urban spaces, as well as mentoring and business support. We hope the conversations with our business customers such as DPD and UPS may lead to further discussions and commercial opportunities for Ford. Over the coming months, this gives us the chance to develop the commercial potential of our last mile service whilst providing solutions to the city’s challenges.”
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “London is one of the most exciting and dynamic cities in the world – but we face some significant challenges. My flagship tech scheme – the Civic Innovation Challenge – is a unique opportunity for London’s best and brightest tech companies to tackle some of the capital’s most pressing problems.
“It’s only through the public and private sector working together that we’ll come up with the best ideas we need to help improve Londoners’ lives the future.”