Autonomous logistics technologies, from warehouse automation to augmented reality and automated guided vehicles, are revolutionising the way manufacturers move goods from place to place, increasing efficiency, improving safety standards and reducing environmental footprints.
Self-driving vehicles / automated guided vehicles
According to ‘Industry Europe’; the development of autonomous vehicles for logistics is a global trend; in the years to come we may well see long-distance heavy autonomous trucks transporting goods all over the continent. Forbes has projected that more than 250 million smart vehicles as well as 10 million self-driving cars will be on the road by 2020.
But a complete transformation to fully automated trucks is likely to be slow. Closer than total autonomy is the possibility of trucks driving themselves part of the time, with assistance from humans, like automated guided vehicles. ‘Platooning’ technology, for example, involves trucks owned by a single company synchronising their braking on motorways to enable them to drive far closer together than would normally be safe. The benefits of this are reduced air resistance and lower fuel consumption.
‘Automated guided vehicles equipped with lasers and cameras can also be used in warehouses or logistics hubs to move and sense hazards.’
Off the road, automated guided vehicles equipped with lasers and cameras can also be used in warehouses or logistics hubs to move and sense hazards – meaning a reduced need for investment in tracks or guide lanes. For example, back in 2015 The Hook in Rotterdam became the first shipping terminal to open a fully automated shipyard – the Maasvlakte II, or MVII Shipyard – using smart sensors powered by wind and other renewable energy sources to move cargo efficiently.
While there are still many issues to be addressed, not least of which is safety, there’s no doubt that automated guided vehicles will be playing a significant role in the future of the global logistics industry.