Transforming Last-Mile Delivery with Clevon at the MIZ

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Clevon, a pioneering Estonian-based autonomous delivery vehicle innovator, strategically established its North American headquarters in the AllianceTexas Mobility Innovation Zone (MIZ) in September 2022. This marked a significant move for Clevon and the global last-mile delivery market, which is expected to grow nearly five times in the next six years, totaling $57B1. To meet the increasing demand for same- and next-day deliveries, Clevon’s flagship product, CLEVON 1 – an all-electric autonomous robot courier designed to navigate urban environments with ease – will enable last-mile delivery to be more energy-efficient, cost-effective and scalable.

Driving the Industry Forward

While the promise of autonomous vehicle (AV) technology is already in motion, innovators still face a number of challenges to commercialization.

CHALLENGE

  • Policy and Regulation: Companies like Clevon must navigate the ever-changing landscape of safety standards. Globally, regulatory frameworks have not been able to keep pace with the rapid technological development of AVs, leaving governments to independently create a patchwork of regulations that could hinder large-scale deployment.
  • Infrastructure: Physical and digital infrastructure, a highly skilled workforce, location and connectivity are essential for AV development but scarcely available in one place, making it difficult to test, improve and scale AV technology for commercial use.
  • Public Acceptance: To gain widespread adoption, the public must trust autonomous vehicle safety. In a recent poll, Americans are generally split on their acceptance of AVs in daily life.2 Public perception will either be a significant accelerator or barrier to adoption.

An Ecosystem Built for Innovation

Renowned for fostering cross-industry partnerships and innovation, the AllianceTexas MIZ provides Clevon with a unique ecosystem that also meets the physical, geographic, and logistical needs to advance its technology.

In less than three months, Clevon established their North American headquarters at AllianceTexas and completed their first driverless delivery through an urban environment in the U.S. CLEVON 1 successfully traveled 3.6 miles along public roads, navigating traffic and obstacles in real-time to deliver gourmet meals from O’Neill’s Inflight Catering to the Perot Field Fort Worth Alliance Airport.

SOLUTION HIGHLIGHTS

Strategic Partnerships: Collaboration with visionary companies, developers, policymakers and the surrounding community is integral to the MIZ ecosystem. Creating opportunities for dialogue and connection across public and private entities allows companies within AllianceTexas to share insights that accelerate innovations.

For Clevon, cross-industry collaboration with award-winning, single-family community developer Hillwood Communities was crucial in realizing autonomous technology in residential communities. This deployment allowed Clevon to interact with residents, where they could educate, answer questions and generate awareness and acceptance for future adoption. CLEVON 1 is already being folded into daily life, delivering packages through a partnership with PostNet at Hillwood’s master-planned community, Harvest.

Robust Infrastructure: Regarding innovation, the infrastructure necessary to support leading-edge technologies extends beyond physical structures, including digital and critical infrastructure. The combination and strength of these benefits at the MIZ are unique to its ecosystem.

Access to Alliance Airport and proximity to DFW Airport were critical factors in Clevon’s decision to make the MIZ its North American headquarters. The MIZ’s unparalleled infrastructure also offered practical advantages that showcase Clevon’s technology in action. On-road testing has been instrumental in proving the safety and success of CLEVON 1, allowing the innovators to go beyond selling the vision and deliver tangible results that allow their customers to envision future opportunities. With a large concentration of globally recognized companies headquartered and expanding substantial operations in North Texas, the MIZ is the perfect location for commercialization.

These initial pilot projects are setting the stage for large-scale deployment. The explosive growth of North Texas makes it the ideal place for expansion. At the same time, the MIZ offers the right structure to support and accelerate Clevon’s commercialization and growth. From customer support to manufacturing and assembly, Clevon plans to continue building and operating from the MIZ. As they scale robotic delivery services in North Texas, new services – like food and grocery deliveries – can be provided using the technology. They have a growing list of partnerships in other cities and states across the U.S., including a collaboration with Tarrant Area Food Bank in Arlington, Texas.

Supportive Environment: For innovative companies to thrive, they require a forward-thinking and supportive environment where corporate partners, public sectors, and community members are receptive to their work and advocate for technological advancements.

From the beginning, Clevon benefited from the accommodating and personal leadership of the Hillwood team, which reflects the pro-business landscape in Texas. As part of the MIZ, Clevon benefits from its continued support and advocacy, making it easier to build partnerships with public safety officials, the Texas Department of Transportation and many other public and private entities. In this convergent industry landscape, Clevon has the opportunity to accelerate commercialization. Companies that stand together can capitalize on early market entry to develop comprehensive standards alongside policymakers who will shape the regulatory framework for AVs.

Entering the Transformative Era of Last-Mile Delivery

This case study compellingly portrays Clevon’s transformative journey within the AllianceTexas Mobility Innovation Zone (MIZ). The MIZ is a vital ecosystem that addresses challenges and propels innovation, collaboration, and the successful commercialization of autonomous last-mile delivery solutions.

In an evolving landscape, CLEVON 1 offers a safer, more efficient alternative to last-mile delivery with the ability to reduce carbon emissions to zero and labor costs by up to 90%. Clevon’s growing list of partnerships and accelerated path to growth serves as a testament that the success and scalability of transformative technologies depend on the environment they’re in.

References:

  1. According to Fortune Business Insights
  2. Polling data demonstrates the damaging impact of a single incident—Uber’s fatal self-driving car accident in March 2018—on public perceptions. AAA’s surveys report a significant increase in the number of surveyed Americans indicating being afraid to ride in a self-driving car: more than 70% in 2018 and 2019, up from 63% in 2017.

The Integration & Commercialization of Advanced Air Mobility Aircraft and Logistics Systems

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The aerospace sector stands on the brink of transformation as Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) takes flight. These cutting-edge technologies will not only integrate new forms of transportation into our current mobility ecosystem but present significant opportunities for economic growth. Perhaps most importantly, the success of AAM aircraft in the real world hinges on the development of robust infrastructure and fully integrated logistics systems.

The Importance of Infrastructure

AAM aircraft, primarily encompassing highly automated uncrewed electrically powered aircraft, represent a new paradigm in air transportation. Their commercialization will create a future where goods and passengers are transported with unprecedented efficiency and reduced environmental impact. However, challenges like government alignment, infrastructure readiness (like power sources and charging stations), and cautious regulatory bodies, pose significant hurdles.

Today, AAM technology is being developed by traditional aerospace companies as well as startups around the globe. But commercializing AAM aircraft requires more than innovation. It requires the development and integration of critical infrastructure that supports the operational ecosystem for future electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft and along with crew-optional or unmanned aircraft systems. AAM-specific infrastructure includes multimodal compatibility, 5G connectivity, sensory systems needed for communications, navigation, and surveillance, and a skilled workforce that can support this rapidly evolving industry.

Innovation Beyond Infrastructure

Until now, the AAM industry has kept its focus on innovation, but with commercialization quickly approaching, companies have begun shifting their attention to air mobility infrastructure and ecosystems that will continue to support them as they scale. Places like the AllianceTexas Mobility Innovation Zone (MIZ) are uniquely positioned to support the AAM industry and serve as a catalyst for overcoming existing barriers. The MIZ is a first-of-its-kind, real-world ecosystem that brings cutting-edge technologies to commercialization at a faster rate, offering a unique set of air and surface logistic assets, including Perot Field Fort Worth Alliance Airport, BNSF intermodal hub, and a flight test center in addition to unparalleled access to resources and partnerships that are critical to scaling and commercializing AAM technologies.

Manna Drone Delivery, an Ireland-based drone delivery company, entered the North American market placing its first commercial operation within the MIZ, benefits from the robust infrastructure of the MIZ. For innovative companies like Manna to thrive, they require a forward-thinking and supportive environment where public-private partnerships are possible, and community members are receptive to their work as much as they require the physical infrastructure needed to test and scale. Thanks to a collaboration between Manna and Hillwood, Manna completed its first flight in the U.S., launching from a delivery hub located inside the MIZ last October. The Manna Aero drone delivered food, beverages, and candy from national and local retailers to Pecan Square, a Hillwood residential community. The on-demand approach to last-mile delivery is just one of many commercial drone innovations happening at the MIZ and will eventually scale to include a select number of Hillwood’s residential developments in North Texas. As part of the MIZ, Manna has been able to showcase the viability of AAM in a real-world setting and leverage the MIZ’s strong partnership with public sectors to accelerate its journey toward commercialization.

Recently, the joint NASA/USAF Agility Prime program successfully installed a high-bandwidth air-to-ground and air-to-air communications network at the MIZ. This initiative is a collaborative effort of the North Texas Cohort, including the Helicopter Institute, which provided the surrogate eVTOL aircraft, Unmanned Experts (UMEX), Advanced Air Mobility Texas (AAMTEX), and Hillwood at the AllianceTexas Flight Test Center. A collaboration with NASA and other partners in 2024 aims to transform Fort Worth and Tarrant County into a premier Urban Testbed for Advanced Air Mobility demonstrations. This ambitious endeavor will leverage the high-bandwidth network to ensure the MIZ remains at the forefront of urban air mobility innovation, setting new aerial communication and operation standards.

The AllianceTexas Mobility Innovation Zone Ecosystem

Due to its potential economic impact and national security implications, the United States has prioritized achieving AAM leadership. The future of air mobility, which includes unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and other commercial drone applications, made substantial progress in 2023. Companies around the world are pressing forward with ambitious plans to create exciting new aircraft and technologies while the AAM sector generated $4.5 billion in disclosed funding last year, signaling its continued momentum.

The MIZ is an ideal hub for AAM innovation, attracting mobility visionaries, logistics companies willing to integrate AAM into their business, and infrastructure companies willing to build and establish aircraft corridors and the associated hardware needed to fully commercialize. Its unique mixed-use ecosystem offers a critical advantage within its vibrant community which nurtures both personal and professional growth, making AllianceTexas a magnet for talent crucial to the AAM industry. Additionally, the rich legacy and expertise of Hillwood, with its deep roots in aviation and innovation, provide invaluable guidance in navigating the intricate landscape of AAM commercialization, further cementing the MIZ as a pivotal player in the industry’s progression.

The journey towards commercialization and full integration of AAM aircraft and logistics systems is complex and multi-faceted. The MIZ stands at the forefront, demonstrating that with the right infrastructure, strategic partnerships, and a supportive ecosystem, the barriers to AAM commercialization can be overcome. While the adoption of automated commercial drones and other uncrewed aircraft might be a graduated evolution, the efforts and progress at the MIZ serve as a global beacon, guiding the way toward a new era in air mobility.