Self-driving vehicles in logistics sector on horizon
Self-driving vehicles in the logistics sector could be here sooner than we think, according to a new report for DHL.
The trend report analyses the possibility of autonomous technology in the logistics sector.
Dr Markus Kückelhaus, Director of DHL Trend Research, said, “Some warehouse operations have been using self-driving vehicles to some extent for years, but making driving more and more autonomous will change the logistics sector dramatically.
“Moving onto public roads is the next evolutionary step. With its history in deploying self-driving solutions in controlled environments, the logistics industry is in a prime position to shape the future of self-driving vehicles.”
The report suggests that self-driving vehicles could be useful, with convoy and driver-assisted technologies the most likely to be introduced in the near future.
Assisted trucks will still give a driver the ability to control the vehicle but it will be capable of driving unaided on motorways, ensuring the vehicle stays in lane and remains within the speed limit and the requisite distance from the vehicle in front.
The last stage of delivery was also explored in the trend report. This suggests that although autonomous vehicles could be used, the issue for the logistics industry is whether the vehicle could learn the environment and react appropriately to it. There is a suggestion that these vehicles could be used to support postal and parcel deliveries in multi-drop areas by driving alongside the person making the deliveries or to move drop-off locations closer to the recipient.
Even though there are still numerous challenges to overcome, DHL’s report indicates that it is no longer a case of ‘if’ but ‘when’ autonomous vehicles will enter the logistics industry, as there is appetite across the commercial vehicle market to develop this technology.