DHL, the global logistics company, has today published a trend report entitled, Self-Driving Vehicles in Logistics, which highlights the key elements and significant potential of autonomous technologies in the logistic industry.
As a first step in the self-driving journey, the trend report contains various best-practice applications from different industries and also examines concrete use cases of self-driving vehicles across the entire logistics value chain. Applications for self-driving vehicles that are discussed in the report include:
- Assisted highway trucking and convoying in line-haul transportation
- Autonomous transport and assisted picking in warehouses
- Autonomous outdoor logistics like yard, harbor and airport operations
- Last-mile delivery
“Some warehouse operations have been using self-driving vehicles to some extent for years, but making driving in logistics more and more autonomous will change the logistics sector dramatically,” said Dr. Markus Kückelhaus, director of DHL Trend Research. “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 further shape the future of self-driving vehicles. Together with partners and customers, DHL can take a leading role on this path.”
Self-driving vehicles can provide a wide range of crucial benefits including improved road safety, greater fuel efficiency and reduced environmental impact. However, as the trend report explains, autonomous technologies still have some way to go before reaching full maturity.
Considerable catching up is also required regarding regulations, public acceptance, and issues of liability. Despite these barriers, some compelling use cases have already emerged, clearly indicating that many organizations are willing to develop and deploy self-driving technologies.
For public highways and urban streets, the Self-Driving Vehicles in Logistics trend report anticipates:
- In the near future, enhancements to existing driver-assistance functions.
- Next, the introduction of autonomous driving in specific situations such as on congested highways.
- Further into the future, fully autonomous truck convoys on highways, 24/7.
“There is no doubt that autonomous driving will change the world of logistics,” adds Matthias Heutger, senior vice president of strategy, marketing and development, DHL customer solutions and innovation. “DHL is already applying many solutions for autonomous logistics in warehouse operations and we see ourselves in a prime position to further drive the trend of self-driving vehicles in our industry.”
The Self-Driving Vehicles in Logistics trend report is the latest in a series of reports developed by DHL Trend Research, which focuses on researching, analyzing and ultimately leveraging new trends in the logistics industry. This trend was identified by DHL along with other developments in its annually updated Logistics Trend Radar — a document that assesses the impact of social and business trends as well as technology drivers in the logistics industry.