SELF-DRIVING VEHICLES – THE ROAD TO THE FUTURE?
With technological advancements in AI as well as increasingly heavy investments in the development of sensors and vision technologies, self-driving vehicles will soon fundamentally transform the way vehicles are assembled, operated, utilized, and serviced. From trucks to last-mile robots, self-driving vehicles will transform logistics by unlocking new levels of safety, efficiency, and quality.
Key Developments & Implications
In logistics, self-driving vehicles have gradually been adopted in carefully controlled environments such as warehouses and yards over the last few years. The next evolutionary step will be to deploy self-driving vehicles in shared and public spaces such as on highways and city streets to further optimize logistics operations and increase safety. Many companies are working on accelerating the acceptance of the fully driverless vehicle, with more than 40 industry players as of May 2017. However to have widespread deployment of autonomous trucks, last-mile delivery robots, and other autonomous vehicles, it is essential to overcome challenges of government regulation, social acceptance, and safety concerns.
Line-haul transportation involves long journeys (often overnight), significant carbon emissions, and an extremely high driver turnover rate of up to 90% in some markets. Logistics providers can utilize various driverless technologies such as platooning and autonomous highway (manual operation only when the truck enters or leaves the highway) to support each driver’s health and safety.
Autonomous last-mile deliveries led by purpose-built vans loaded with everyday goods such as groceries, electronics, or apparel could be a reality in the future. More mobile autonomous vehicles such as drones or sidewalk delivery robots can also disrupt modern delivery service standards, providing same-day deliveries with reduced labor costs. This is particularly attractive for logistics companies as last-mile deliveries have historically been inefficient and account for almost 40% of total delivery costs.
Indoor and outdoor logistics operations can leverage various forms of self-driving vehicle to perform traditionally labor-intensive tasks. Autonomous and semi-autonomous forklifts, mobile robots, and pallet movers will be able to automate container and equipment handling. This flexibility will benefit logistics providers through labor cost reduction and increased efficiency and safety through machine-human collaboration.
Applications for Self-driving Vehicles That Are Discussed in the Report Include:
- Warehousing operations
- Outdoor logistics operations
- Line haul transportation
- Last-mile delivery
Talk to an Expert
Dr. Markus Kückelhaus
Innovation & Trend Reserach
DHL Customer Solutions and Innovation
Markus Kückelhaus is heading the global research and innovation activities of Deutsche Post DHL and is in charge of the DHL flagship Innovation Center near Bonn. He joined DHL in 2012 as Director Trend Research monitoring and leveraging trends with his team that will impact the logistics industry in the future. Previously he worked as a free-lance consultant for DHL, supporting the development of a group wide innovation system and implementing strategies and business models for innovation initiatives.