What could Apple’s self-driving car mean for logistics?

Cassie Stang

By Cassie Stang Business Development at King Solutions

Keeping pace with the evolving logistics industry is a constant challenge for 3PLs. With new innovations in transportation and warehouse technology, companies always have to stay on their toes and adapt to the changing marketplace.

There are even innovations in seemingly unrelated markets that can impact the logistics industry, the latest of which is Apple’s self-driving car. While self-driving cars are nothing new — companies like Google and Mercedes-Benz have been working on them for years — Apple has pushed the envelope further by alluding that their initial prototype could be ready to hit the market by 2020.

As companies who rely heavily on freight trucks to move goods about the country, 3PLs are watching the evolution of self-driving automobiles closely. It is an innovation that has the potential to change the way they help their customers streamline the supply chain.

Whether this change will have an overall positive or negative effect on the industry is yet to be seen, but here are a bunch of potential changes that carriers can expect to see as this technology progresses.

The Pros

  • Driverless vehicles, when combined with route planning systems, will inherently cut transit times for carriers. Routes will become shorter through optimization, and automated trucks will be able to travel day and night without stopping.
  • If driverless vehicles truly begin to rule the roads, accidents will decrease due to robotic drivers that don’t commit human errors. Because of this, it is logical to assume that speed limits will eventually be increased, further cutting down on transit times.
  • As e-commerce increases and local deliveries arrive faster, retailers may abandon brick and mortar stores in favor of regional warehouses. Strictly online retailers like Amazon have already begun looking into how drones can change the shipping industry.
  • Increased safety: one of the most prominent self-driving vehicle features is the ability for cars to park themselves. This technology can be implemented during the loading/unloading process, where trucks are often required to navigate tight corridors in warehouse yards.

The Cons

  • When a process becomes automated, there is always the risk that jobs will be lost. There are currently 3.5 million truck drivers in the United States, according to the American Trucking Association, and it is estimated that 115,000 jobs will become available in 2016. These jobs could lessen as trucks begin driving themselves. However, it has been noted that automated trucks could be operated much like predator drones, leaving truckers to control them from a remote location.
  • Although human error will be eliminated, technology itself has a penchant for breaking or malfunctioning. Also, there is no machine known to man that can replace the ingenuity and problem solving skills of a human, leaving more to be desired from this technology.

An Everlasting Solution
Technology comes and goes, but companies like King Solutions will always be here to provide exceptional logistics solutions. Nothing beats the experience that has been amassed by our professional team. Give us a call today and let us put our experience to work for you.

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