Autonomous Vehicles: Powering the Next-Gen Supply Chain

Melissa Newman Blog, DBW Leave a Comment

From automated-guided vehicles and industrial conveyors to autonomous trucks, trains, and drones, autonomous vehicles have a growing role in supply chains – and are disrupting them… for the better.

Where in the world are autonomous vehicles?

Autonomous vehicles are useful in nearly every stage of the supply chain: short haul, long haul, middle mile, and last mile. They’re even inside warehouses, where robots and conveyors transport stock. Let’s look in more depth at three spots in the supply chain where autonomous vehicles will be changing the game.

Long-distance hauling

For long distances, autonomous trucks are a groundbreaking technology. Because highway driving is more predictable than urban transport, there’s less need for human skill to navigate twists and turns. With huge potential savings in labor costs plus lower thresholds for navigational skills, we’re likely to see the fastest development in the long-distance hauling sector.

Middle-mile transport

Middle-mile delivery is currently exploring optimized hub-and-spoke operations with autonomous vehicles. Gatik, a company based in Palo Alto and Toronto, operates vehicles daily on their autonomous delivery network. Goods travel from micro-fulfillment centers to designated pick-up points; Gatik’s customers enjoy reduced labor costs, improved inventory, and contactless operations.

Final-mile delivery

The last mile of delivery often experiences crippling bottlenecks, back-ups, and delays. Companies are experimenting with creative solutions for remote driving, drones, and even small robots that can avoid traffic snarls. For instance, lucky residents of Ann Arbor, MI and Austin, TX can place orders with restaurant partners of Refraction AI and receive their delivery from the REF-1 delivery vehicle. Its robotic platform boasts safety, cost-effectiveness, and scalability in urban areas.

How autonomous vehicles benefit the supply chain

Autonomous vehicles provide solutions for a number of supply chain problems: 

  1. With a global shortage of qualified truck drivers, autonomous vehicles can fill the gap and even provide employment opportunities for older or disabled drivers.
  2. Companies can expect to save on shipping costs – after all, automated trucks don’t need extra time for breaks to eat or sleep.
  3. Autonomous vehicles can cut the time to delivery down significantly. Because they can be on the road 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, goods can reach consumers sooner than deliveries traveling with human drivers, who need rest and have regulations designed to ensure that.

How New Eagle is making a difference

To help our partners stay on the cutting edge of autonomous vehicle technology, New Eagle offers a robust hardware system paired with our Raptor software in one complete platform. These Drive-By-Wire (DBW) kits provide an interface to nearly any vehicle type, allowing you to remain focused on your autonomous software while we take care of the hardware and integration. They offer a safe, reliable, and customizable solution to keep your fleet on the road and the supply chain moving smoothly.

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