When delivering packages, the ‘last mile’ up to the customer’s door is one of the main logistical challenges – it is the most expensive and slowest part of the shipping process, accounting for around 50% of the cost of delivery. ShipNow Technologies is tackling this by using GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) positioning data in its YouShip platform to connect users and delivery drivers, and to optimise the route taken, improving delivery success rates and cutting costs.
The YouShip project evolved from an ESA Kick-Start Study and subsequently garnered further support through an ESA Demonstration Project, which was completed in 2022. The YouShip platform connects shippers, including both online and retail stores with delivery companies and independent couriers through a mobile application, with a related app that provides information to those awaiting parcels.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic significantly increased levels of online shopping, the final stage of delivery services was often frustrating for vendors, delivery drivers and customers. Challenges included addresses which were incorrect, locations which were hard to find and destinations with no one home to receive orders. Portuguese company ShipNow Technologies set out to solve this issue by using precise GNSS location data to identify pick-up and drop-off locations and to improve couriers’ journeys by optimising their routes and making it easier to find addresses.
YouShip uses GNSS data from users’ phones and external devices such as Galileo-enabled wristbands and dedicated hardware units placed on the vehicle dashboard to get accurate positioning information. It then combines this with terrain maps to show users the pick-up and drop-off locations and to track couriers. The platform also uses routing data to find the shortest distance or fastest time between two points, and to optimise routes and minimise driving time for multiple delivery stops. It can also account for aspects such as customer time windows, vehicle capacities and driver schedules.
Delivering the goods
More than 60 business users, ranging from large retailers to small individual businesses, signed up to use the YouShip delivery service as part of the Demonstration Project with more than 50 courier users also signing up. Over 10,000 packages were delivered and over 20,000 addresses located, with around 500 optimised routes created.
“Over the course of the project, we have demonstrated and proven the value of precise location information in the logistics context, especially for last mile delivery,” said Leonel Simão, CEO of ShipNow Technologies. “As such, the ESA Demonstration Project funding and support has been invaluable.”
“The YouShip service is testament to the efficiency gains that can be enabled when integrating satellite positioning into the logistics setting. This further illustrates the downstream impact space technologies have on improving customer experiences and environmental sustainability.” Said Christopher Frost-Tesfaye, ESA Space Solutions.
To support the technical development of the platform, ShipNow partnered with Bluecover, which specialises in geo-location services, and Concealed, a digital agency. The team also integrated YouShip with Woop, a SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) platform, to provide access to retailers in Portugal and France.
ShipNow has also responded to the emergence of autonomous delivery robots, developing YouShip to deploy its own such robots via the platform. The YouShip robot can carry small parcels, groceries, or food within a 4km radius.
The company has ambitious plans for the future, aiming to acquire new retailers of all sizes and roll out its services to two more cities by next year, and to overseas markets within two years. Its proposition is that it will deliver anything locally in 60 minutes with a target success rate of 99.5%.