Warehouse drone and autonomous vehicle usage increases

Logistics experts have said that warehouses drones and autonomous vehicles (AV) are making inroads in the warehouse.

A report by the supply chain association MHI has stated that 21% of 1,000 supply chain companies surveyed intend to invest more in AV and drones during the next three years.

Among the businesses using driverless technology is DHL, which has 15 automated forklifts in one of its UK-based warehouses, along with Walmart, which operates driverless trucks. There are safety issues, however. Walmart trucks are on closed loops away from workers, and driverless forklifts need human backups. In warehouses with workers operating manual moving equipment like aisle picking trolleys, it’s unsafe to allow autonomous vehicles to be unsupervised next to human workers.

The main use for drones in the warehouse is to scan inventory in order to count stock. Flytrex is using drones to deliver groceries in North Carolina in the US, but it is among the very few companies using delivery drones. Drones can also be used to inspect the condition of warehouse buildings, especially roofs.

A barrier to adopting autonomous vehicles to deliver orders is worker and public opinion. A YouGov America survey of people from various countries discovered that 43% of consumers are nervous about the use of self-driving cars on the roads. People believe that the computers that control drones and AVs can make mistakes, and this puts members of the public and workers at risk.

It will likely be a long time before warehouses are operated without humans.

Posted by Mark
21st February 2022
Retail & Warehousing

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