Clevon, an Estonian self-driving vehicle manufacturer is putting its vehicles out on the streets in North Texas. Residents in Northlake, a town near the Alliance Airport, can now get packages delivered or picked up from PostNet Northlake by Clevon’s vehicles.
The new service is part of what Clevon executives see as the start of the company’s expansion in the region. The company located its U.S. operations headquarters in Alliance Airport in North Fort Worth last year and plans to put 1,000 vehicles on the roads by 2025, Clevon CEO Sander Sebastian Agur said. The company has authority to operate in Texas, Arizona, Utah, New Hampshire and West Virginia, he said.
“It’s not a science project,” Agur said. “It’s a real commercial service. And we are already operating on the public streets.”
Many companies are coming to North Texas to test out and implement driverless vehicles due to lighter regulations and the proximity of the Alliance Airport.
Clevon (NASDAQ: CLEV) partnered with a local packing and shipping store, PostNet, to deliver parcels to customers in the area. Clevon 1, the company’s electric delivery vehicle, can carry up to six packages to residents using PostNet’s services across three work shifts during the day.
Customers get a special code to enter to receive their package when the vehicle arrives. The vehicles drive up to 20 mph on the road for regulatory and safety purposes, but can go faster. The speed limits on the roads the robot is traveling is limited to 25 or 35 mph. It charges inside Lamar National Bank in Northlake at the end of each day. T-Mobile is the company’s data provider, which helps the machine navigate the roads.
Clevon chose Northlake because of its proximity to the Alliance Airport, Meelis Anton, Clevon’s chief operating officer in the U.S., said. The company is also working closely with Hillwood, which is developing the area.
Gary Good, owner of PostNet Northlake, saw the delivery vehicle as an opportunity to better serve customers. His business doesn’t employ drivers. Some customers who sell items on eBay bring 10-50 packages a day to him. A robot carrier can make things easier for them, he said.
“They could just sit there in their house and do more business,” Good said. “They could focus on doing their business, instead of having to make trips up here and load up their vehicle and bring it up to my store and have my team take care of those packages.”
Good said they are still getting the word out about the vehicles after a few weeks of operation. Clevon’s Agur sees opportunities to expand in the aviation sector, using the cars to deliver supplies and other items across the airport. The company already has multiple vehicles operating at the Alliance Airport, Anton said. City of Fort Worth to identify potential commercial partners to implement the technology as well.
“The problems are big, and the rewards for everybody, for us, and for the consumers, are that much higher if we solve difficult problems,” Agur said.
Seth Bodine is a business and economic development reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at @sbodine120.
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