Hermes trials ‘voice in van’ concept


A voice assistant that supports couriers on their delivery rounds is being trialled in London this month by Hermes UK and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles.

‘Neo’ can broadcast or display specific delivery information to the driver, including the type of delivery and the customer’s preferred safe place location to improve efficiencies and provide enhanced support to new or busy drivers with high parcel volumes, in rush-hour traffic or at unknown destinations.

The assistant runs on the VW infotainment system and guides the courier through deliveries via voice, making sure that they can fully focus on the road and have all the information they need when they arrive at a delivery destination. The driver can also easily ask for more details about each item on the job list.

‘Neo’ was created by Neohelden, a German start-up business, and is one of the winners of the Future Logistics Challenge that was launched by Hermes Europe in cooperation with Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles. The challenge was designed to help identify and develop logistics solutions for the future, with each of the winners receiving up to €100,000 to carry out a feasibility test of the ideas that they presented.

Lynsey Aston, Head of Product, Innovation and Onboarding at Hermes UK, said: “Our network of over 27,000 couriers are working hard to deliver ever-increasing volumes driven by the natural growth of e-commerce. On top of that, the pandemic has seen our volumes soar to more than 630 million parcels over the last year and we’ve grown our teams and network of self-employed couriers, which has meant a lot of new starters to onboard, fast. Anything that helps us to do this quicker and supports our couriers in delivering more safely and efficiently is really important, so we’re excited to be part of this trial in partnership with our Innovation Lab team.”

“Finding useful solutions in our light commercial vehicle sector and testing them in real-life situations is key for us. When it comes to integration projects of new technologies into existing systems, such as our vehicles, challenges are inevitable. With partners like Neohelden, we had an innovative team next to us that worked out a best-in-class product for our customers”, said Artur Hasselbach at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles.

Philipp Csernalabics, COO at Neohelden, added: “We’re very proud that we could bring our concept from the Future Logistics Challenge to life with Hermes UK and Volkswagen and that our technology can contribute to supporting busy couriers.”