The Rise of Autonomous Vehicles
Advancement of technology such as GPS, social media, and up to the minute online tracking has only proved to fuel the hunger of the consumer for cheaper and faster goods. With this comes heightened pressure on the logistics to find new ways to fulfil orders quickly.
Large distribution companies such as Amazon have already started to look into transporting goods by air using technology such as drones. This would enable packages to be delivered in 30 minutes or less avoiding traffic delays and with improved efficiency comes the opportunity to cut down on costs and environmental impacts, such as lowering emissions which will, in turn, decrease the carbon footprint.
With recent developments in the technological advancement of Autonomous Vehicles (AV) it is thought to revolutionise logistics, with complete innovation of the way in which we supply and receive goods.
There are already many AVs in the logistics industry already. The use of warehousing equipment such as autonomous forklifts and robot arms used to load and transport goods. We are yet to see autonomous vehicles on the open road, but the future will most likely see them delivering goods, to then have the goods unloaded and sorted by more AVs when they reach warehousing.
How will this help logistics services?
As these technological advances continue to develop over the next few decades we would hope to see a great shift in the logistics process. In the first instance, these technologies will improve road safety, with most traffic accidents being caused by driver error AVs will reduce road traffic accidents by eliminating the need for drivers. There is also improved environmental impact with AVs being designed to be fuel-efficient, creating lower emissions and lowering the stress on road networks. With no need for drivers, time limitations on driving will be lifted meaning 24-hour travel, 7 days per week, improving the efficiency and speed of deliveries.
What are the implications of AVs?
Studies have shown that public acceptance of AVs is mixed, with some feeling they wouldn’t be able to fully trust computer-driven vehicles on the road. This is seemingly the biggest hurdle in developing such technologies as public support is essential in giving the go-ahead. People need to feel safe on the road and know how such vehicles would react in certain situations.
There are also liability concerns, should a situation arise where an AV causes damage to another vehicle where do liabilities fall when there is no driver? This of course raises insurance concerns and so these are issues that need to be addressed.
How can we prepare for these changes?
If AVs are going to become available in the next few decades, it is important to plan and prepare for their implementation. Keeping up to date with technologies now and staying abreast of current trends could put you at a competitive advantage when AVs eventually come into play. The logistics sector provides the ideal environment to trial these kinds of technologies as we see already with the use of Autonomous warehousing equipment.
Much more research and testing are needed before the introduction of these vehicles on our roads, but the best we can do is introduce automated processes where we can now to make the first steps to the future of logistics.
Self-driving vehicles will inevitably change logistics beyond recognition, really ramping up the efficiency and capabilities of the supply chain. There are clearly a number of legislative changes needed in order to see the implementation of autonomous vehicles. However, there is no doubt that the impact on logistics would be significant. It is not a question of if these vehicles will be made but of when because as we have mentioned above, much of the technology needed to create AVs already exist and are being used in warehouses, ports and airports all over the world.