At CES 2021, as part of the keynote address, General Motors Chairman and CEO Mary Barra announced a new business unit, BrightDrop.
Conceived from the company’s Global Innovation group, BrightDrop is designed to provide a practical first-to-last mile ecosystem of electric vehicles, software and services for delivery and logistics companies.
“BrightDrop offers a smarter way to deliver goods and services,” said Barra. “We are building on our significant expertise in electrification, mobility applications, telematics and fleet management, with a new one-stop-shop solution for commercial customers to move goods in a better, more sustainable way.”
BrightDrop will introduce its new, self-propelled autonomous electric pallet, the EP1 in the spring of 2021 and will complement it later in the year with the EV600, its first all-electric light delivery vehicle.
The EP1, which can cover speeds of up to 3 mph over short distances is designed to facilitate convenience and efficiency during the delivery process, including from the warehouse to the delivery vehicle and from the delivery vehicle to the front door of the business or residence.
The EP1 features built-in electric motors and has a 200 lb payload capacity, with 23 cubic feet of total cargo space. Adjustable shelving for different objects and lockable cabinet doors for added security are standard features.
An asset management feature on the EP1 provides customers with real-time features, including location monitoring, battery status, remote commands to lock and unlock, as well as over-the-air updates of connected features.
New delivery vehicle
The BrightDrop EV600, which utilizes GM’s next-generation Ultium EV battery system and architecture, will be available at the end of 2021. According to GM it has an estimated range of up to 402 km (250 miles), while a peak charging rate of up to 274 km (170 miles) of range per hour when using a 120kW DC fast charger.
Boasting a Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) of under 10,000 lbs, the EV600 boasts 600 cubic-feet of cargo space, cargo security system with motion sensors, a 13.4-inch onboard touch screen, as well as a full roster of safety features including:
Standard front and rear Park Assist, automatic emergency braking, forward collision alert, following distance Indicator, front pedestrian braking, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, IntelliBeam automatic high beams and HD Rear Vision Camera.
Other available safety features include: Rear Cross Traffic Braking, Blind Zone Steering Assist, Reverse Automatic Braking, HD Surround Vision, Rear Pedestrian Alert and Enhanced Automatic Emergency Braking.
The EV600 also incorporates BrightDrop EV fleet management, which allows operators to have remote access, real-time location, battery and charging management data, as well as driver safety coaching and incident recording, remote diagnostics, safety alerts and predictive maintenance insights, and over-the-air updates.
FedEX Express is the launch customer for the EV600 and recently completed a successful pilot project utilizing the EP1 electric pallet, in which its couriers were able to safely and easily handle an additional 25 packages per day while realizing greater efficiency and less physical strain on the job.
“Our need for reliable, sustainable transportation has never been more important,” said Richard Smith, FedEx Express Regional President of the Americas and Executive Vice President of global support. “BrightDrop is a perfect example of the innovations we are adopting to transform our company as time-definite express transportation continues to grow. With this new suite of products, we will help improve the safety, security and timeliness of FedEx Express deliveries, while reducing our environmental impact and protecting the well-being of our couriers.”
Integrated cloud-based platform
Besides the EP1 and EV600 BrightDrop also provides an integrated cloud-based platform that enables customers to have easy access and visibility to their BrightDrop products through both online and mobile portals.
Additionally, built-in connectivity provides businesses with detailed data and insights that can help improve overall operations which include everything from route efficiency to product upgrades and asset utilization Drivers and couriers can also utilize the mobile application for a variety of tasks.
In the future, additional BrightDrop products and services are expected to come to fruition, including a larger, longer-range delivery vehicle that can accommodate a roster of EP1 pallets and rapid loading and unloading delivery options.