Route optimisation specialist The Algorithm People (TAP) is working with academics at Teesside University to transform urban logistics and eliminate ‘back-to-depot’ reloading.

The two organisations have entered into a knowledge transfer partnership which they hope will eventually provide a vehicle-to-vehicle solution, described as being akin to in-flight refuelling in aviation.

The 12-month mobile and transient hubs project combines TAP’s optimisation platform, My Transport Planner (MTP), with artificial intelligence developed by the university to enable smaller vehicles to reload from a larger vehicle and potentially outperform more traditional set-ups, such as back-to-base vans and trucks.

One obstacle to replacing HGVs or large vans with smaller vehicles is their smaller payloads, but TAP said its project could overcome this challenge as well as drastically reduce vehicle mileage.

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TAP said MTP typically delivers fleet savings of up to 20% and this latest project aims to deliver an additional 20% savings on top.

Associate professor at Teesside University, Dr Claudio Angione, said: “We are creating a system which can dynamically adjust a delivery hub’s location and capacity in relation to the vehicles it serves.

“This will make TAP’s optimisation products even more effective in terms of throughput and efficiency.”

TAP chief executive and founder, Colin Ferguson, said: “Decarbonising our cities and our deliveries requires new ways of looking at vehicle movements, and sophisticated technology to ensure that there is no waste in our supply chains.

“This project is important because it offers a quantum leap in urban logistics efficiency and it facilitates the commercial use of different types of net-zero vehicle which can work safely even in pedestrianised areas.”