Autonomous vehicles in logistics

Our lives are becoming increasingly digital and the e-commerce industry is no stranger to this phenomenon. Hand in hand with process automation, autonomous vehicles in logistics are fundamentally changing the structure, operations and profits across the industry. Read on to understand where they are used today and what their future holds.

Automation: the trend that changes everything

It’s no surprise that the technological leap is causing a revolution in logistics, as this has happened in other industries across the globe. From supermarkets working almost without employees thanks to self-service checkouts, to city passenger transport and the hospitality sector, digital platforms are changing everything in their wake. With a trend towards increasingly automated workflows, it is possible to achieve results in less time and with less effort, leading to the conclusion that many of the tasks performed in series could be replaced by technological tools. Automation brings some major advantages that cannot be neglected: reliability, assured performance and cost reduction.

Widespread in the field of production, hand in hand with robots that have become central to product manufacturing processes, automation is also profoundly changing mobility. Vehicle manufacturers have been exploring the possibilities of autonomous vehicles for some time now, with promising results that bring us closer to the future that seemed so distant just a few years ago.

Of course, there are still many problems to be solved before autonomous driving becomes possible on the roads, and it may take some time for it to become a reality. What many experts in the field do point out is that it is very likely that we will see the first installations of this type of driving in the transport sector before we see it in private passenger cars.

Automation in logistics

Automation in logistics is the use of different software and automated machinery to optimise the efficiency of the logistics chain in warehouses and distribution centres. This resource has come to transform everything in this sector, as it will change the cost structure and, in the same way, the use of road transport with autonomous vehicles.

At the same time, at every step of the supply chain, automation expands the ability of companies to have the flexibility to absorb peaks in demand, to accept larger loads or to package products individually. But its scope does not stop there: the warehouses of the future are now known to involve sophisticated robots, sorting systems and even drones inside. All these developments will reduce logistics costs.

Today, data and analytics are already being used to understand transport demand and to optimise routes, something we could not have imagined years ago. In fact, other technological solutions such as automated guided vehicles are already being used in warehousing in many companies and factories. What are they? Automated robots that move goods from one point to another within the warehouse, without the need to be driven by a person. Something totally unthinkable not so long ago.

Levels of automation in vehicles

There is a scale that considers the level at which processes are automated. In the case of autonomous vehicles, at the moment only levels 1 to 3 have been reached, although they are working to take it to level 4. Let’s see in detail what each level is about:

Level 0: indicates no automation.
Level 1: Represents driver assistance. This means that the driver is in control.
Level 2: The automation is fractional, here vehicles can alter speed and direction by analysing data.
Level 3: At this point, automation will be restrictive. Here the vehicle can also control safety functions.
Level 4: This level has high automation, here in controlled regions the vehicles can be fully autonomous.
Level 5: At the final level, vehicles can be fully independent in all conditions and the human driver is already mandatory.

Where is vehicle automation heading?

The automation of processes in logistics will generate benefits and new jobs in all areas and will make long-distance transits safer, less costly, easier to track and have a lower impact on the carbon footprint. This is why we at tradisa continue to believe that our drivers are a key part of our value chain.

In conclusion, autonomous vehicles in logistics are a reality that, little by little, is getting closer to what was imagined a few years ago as the future of the industry. But it is also important to consider that, while several companies are testing driverless vehicles, people are still and will continue to be necessary for logistics automation processes to work properly.

If you have come this far reading this article, you will be interested to continue reading our blog where you will have access to information on various developments in the sector. Tradisa is an integrated logistics operator in Europe for the automotive, petroleum products and other synergistic sectors such as consumer electronics.