A drone has been factored into Renault’s all-electric delivery solution alongside a battery-powered van and e-bike to permit companies to transport goods to bustling city centers without leaving a measurable carbon footprint.
This week Renault Truck’s UK unit unveiled the E-Tech Master OptiModale delivery product, which outfits an electric van with a battery-powered bicycle and drone to provide the fullest range of non-polluting options to get ordered products to customers. The idea is as simple as it is complete.
The van is used to drive goods warehoused in outer areas to get them closer into city centers, where traffic and parking often become a problem. From there, the e-bike is loaded with parcels for last-mile(s) transport to several destinations in the same zone. In cases where orders involve medication, fragile, or urgently needed goods – or to places with difficult road access – the drones are deployed for quick flights to make deliveries.
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The sustainable concept was designed and commissioned by Renault Trucks, and rolled out by its UK and Ireland division. It combines a 3.8-ton, 33kWh battery-powered E-Tech Master van, an eBullitt electric cargo bike, and a delivery drone manufactured by English specialist UAVTEK. That relatively short-hop aerial option can transport up to two kilos of payload, with the e-bike taking on a maximum of 100 kilos.
“The all-new Renault Trucks E-Tech Master OptiModale addresses the pressing need to improve air quality and pollution in our cities while improving accessibility and productivity for operators,” says Renault Trucks UK & Ireland executive Grahame Neagus. “By harnessing multiple modes of electric transport, this is an all-in-one sustainable solution that is set to transform the rapidly growing parcel market, and can be replicated anywhere in the world.”
The three-in-one delivery package is intended for use by two people. When fully loaded, the e-bike can offer 31 miles of power assisted riding, and be recharged in four hours once affixed in position on the side of the truck. A heliport pad facilitating drone departures and landings is fastened above that space. The van has battery autonomy of around 80 miles.
“Optimodale delivers an innovative last-mile solution and is a clear illustration of the breadth and depth of our thinking, providing Renault Trucks logistics customers with a sustainable solution from 2 kg all the way up to 45 tons,” Neagus says.
It’s unclear how soon Renault plans to take the platform into mass production, or open it up to sales. Given the still early stage of drone delivery development, for example, it may take a while before regulation frees the possibility of routine UAV flights above many of the world’s cities, and permits non-specialized operators to take the controls.