News headlines continue to spread the word about self-driving vehicles, often emphasizing the potential for passenger cars to gain mass traction. Supply chain and logistics professionals, however, are considering the ways this new technology could dramatically alter their operations.
Driverless trucks have the potential to reduce labor costs and increase efficiency—after all, a driverless truck can travel straight to its destination without breaks for sleep and food. And self-driving vehicles could also be used to transport items inside warehouses and other facilities.
“Self-driving vehicles unlock new levels of safety, efficiency, and quality within the logistics sector,” Hewitt says. “They will transform the supply chain by autonomously loading and transporting all shapes and sizes of products.”
The ongoing commercial driver shortage appears certain to intensify in the near future, especially if the economy improves. Waggoner cites the possibility of the United States being 175,000 drivers short of demand in a few years. This shortage will likely play a major role in debates over the viability of driverless vehicles.
“The worsening driver shortage will put pressure on pricing and capacity,” he says. “That may not be enough to accelerate their implementation, but driverless trucks could help alleviate the problem.”
No matter the obstacles, supply chain executives see the move to self-driving vehicles as inevitable—a matter of when, not if.
- How will the shortage of commercial drivers affect the supply chains?
- How will the driverless vehicles affect the logistics?
- How will the driverless vehicles enhance safety and efficiency of supply chains?