Google Last Mile Fleet Solution (contributed)
Given the vast amount of data streaming into its ubiquitous search engine every day, its various technology platforms and the ecommerce explosion, it’s only logical that Google is offering what it sees as a better mousetrap to solve the thorny problem of route optimization in last-mile deliveries.
This puts Google into the territory of route and fleet optimization startups like Bringg and UPS unit Roadie, as well as newer entrants like Beans.ai, which interestingly was started by an architect of Google Earth and Google Maps.
The twin offerings of a Last Mile Fleet Solution from Google Maps and a Cloud Fleet Routing API from Google Cloud are designed to work in tandem to handle delivery execution and route planning, respectively, and can be purchased together or separately. The target is both last-mile operators and retailers who have or are creating their own delivery network.
Cloud Fleet Routing, natively integrated with Google Maps, solves route planning requests in near-real-time. Customers can specify constraints such as time windows, package weights and vehicle capacities. It will be available in Q2.
Last Mile Fleet, now in public preview, allows fleet operators to optimize the delivery journey from ecommerce order to door. It also gives drivers tools to help them complete routes more efficiently, including turn-by-turn navigation updating in near real time based on traffic conditions and business hours, while providing the exact location of buildings or units. It’s built on a delivery mobility solution from Google Maps used by ride-hailing and on-demand services worldwide.
(Related: panel discussion on “The Sustainable Last Mile: No Longer an Oxymoron” at Ecommerce Operations Technology Summit 2022, April 12-13, Orlando; register here)
“Both solutions complement each other, addressing the need in the market for better last mile shipment processes,” said Hans Thalbauer, managing director of global supply chain and logistics industries for Google Cloud. “Ecommerce companies need fleet optimization to be more efficient, meet customer expectations for speed and when to expect an item. They also address the issues of cost and sustainability.”
Shalin Mantri, group product manager for Google Maps, said Cloud Fleet Routing allows for integration into a consumer-facing app as well as internal tools, providing real-time visibility all along the package journey. “It provides the Uber-like experience we’ve all come to expect,” Mantri said. “If a customer calls the fleet operator or retailer, they have an audit trail of the package in near real time.”
Thalbauer said Google’s algorithm can process massive amounts of data to handle and solve issues as they arise. For instance, it can readjust a delivery fleet schedule during the day based on fluid conditions like weather and traffic, optimizing handoff of deliveries to a new driver if there’s a breakdown.
“The differentiator is really the scale, the volume of data we can handle, with an algorithm calculating in seconds,” he said. “There’s a constantly changing execution environment. If something goes wrong, it still finds the best possible way, planning and creating routes multiple times.”