CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly
July 22, 2018
Forward Thinking

Driverless vehicles: Where to next?

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A new report from DHL forecasts logistics applications for automated vehicles.

In the past few years the number of applications for automated guided vehicles (AGVs) and driverless forklifts has grown. According to a recent report from the global third-party logistics (3PL) company DHL, that's just the tip of the automated-vehicle iceberg. Self-Driving Vehicles in Logistics explains how automated, or robotic, vehicles work, their potential benefits, and the regulations and policies that influence their acceptance and adoption. The report then reviews current uses in military, consumer, automotive industry, and public transportation environments. Finally, it highlights four logistics applications: autonomous transport and assisted picking in warehouses; autonomous outdoor logistics, such as airport, yard, and marine terminal operations; assisted highway trucking and convoying; and "last mile" delivery. DHL's researchers predict that the logistics industry will lead the way toward a driverless future. In a blog post, Dr. Markus Kückelhaus, director, DHL Trend Research, suggests that the early focus will be on cars and trucks; in the near future, he says, we'll see enhancements to existing driver-assistance functions and the introduction of autonomous driving in specific situations, such as on congested highways. Further out, look for fully autonomous truck convoys on highways. Other opportunities include remote locations where human drivers are at risk, line-haul transportation, and last-mile delivery.

In the past few years the number of applications for automated guided vehicles (AGVs) and driverless forklifts has grown. According to a recent report from the global third-party logistics (3PL) company DHL, that's just the tip of the automated-vehicle iceberg. Self-Driving Vehicles in Logistics explains how automated, or robotic, vehicles work, their potential benefits, and the regulations and policies that influence their acceptance and adoption. The report then reviews current uses in military, consumer, automotive industry, and public transportation environments. Finally, it highlights four logistics applications: autonomous transport and assisted picking in warehouses; autonomous outdoor logistics, such as airport, yard, and marine terminal operations; assisted highway trucking and convoying; and "last mile" delivery. DHL's researchers predict that the logistics industry will lead the way toward a driverless future. In a blog post, Dr. Markus Kückelhaus, director, DHL Trend Research, suggests that the early focus will be on cars and trucks; in the near future, he says, we'll see enhancements to existing driver-assistance functions and the introduction of autonomous driving in specific situations, such as on congested highways. Further out, look for fully autonomous truck convoys on highways. Other opportunities include remote locations where human drivers are at risk, line-haul transportation, and last-mile delivery.

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