One of the top package delivery firms in the world, UPS, has begun using a new eBike — er … eTrike (an electrically assisted tricycle) — for package delivery in Portland, Oregon.
The trialling of the new eTrike prototype — which began on November 21 — represents the first time that UPS has used such a technology for package delivery within the US. Notably, the company already uses conventional bicycles for delivery in Portland during the warmer months.
The trial, which is part of the firm’s move to reduce its carbon emissions and its contributions to air pollution and traffic congestion, could lead to rollout of the technology in many cities throughout the US, according to UPS.
“Early in our 109 year history, UPS operated as a bike messenger company,” stated Mark Wallace, UPS senior vice president global engineering and sustainability. “While we have evolved and developed a vast network of ground and air vehicles, the bicycle may be making a comeback as we navigate through crowded urban areas and continue our focus on environmental sustainability.”
This new trial program in Portland follows an earlier demonstration in Hamburg, Germany, in 2012.
A recent press release provides background on that: “It focused on developing a new and sustainable method of delivering goods to urban areas. UPS placed four containers at central locations in the city for interim storage of packages for UPS service providers. From these points, deliveries were made on foot or with specialized bicycles called ‘Cargo Cruisers,’ UPS’s electronically-assisted tricycles. These alternate delivery solutions helped ease traffic congestion and reduce emissions each working day. Due to the success of the pilot, the Hamburg program was extended in February 2015 for another 2 years. That model serves as a guidepost for the company’s new program in Portland, Oregon.”
The mayor of Portland, Charlie Hales, commented on the trial: “Portland, like all cities, is looking for ways to fight urban congestion and pollution. It’s great when a company like UPS brings us a unique solution that will help us combat climate change and protect the environment.”
The new UPS eTrikes represent a possible improvement over conventional bicycles (for this application) owing to their ability to carry much heavier loads, to more easily traverse hills, and to cover long distances without driver/rider fatigue.
If this trial proves successful, then UPS will be rolling out other pilots elsewhere in 2017.
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