When you hear autonomous vehicle, what’s the first image that comes to mind? Most likely you see a self-driving car, yet autonomy goes well beyond that. Let’s focus on the autonomous part of the term. Yes, car manufacturers have steadily added features like hands-free park- ing, but automation stands ready to transform a much broader range of fields. From neighborhood restaurants in Singapore to truck stops in New Mexico to mines in Brazil, take a look at some fields where automation could introduce extraordinary changes. Fields, in other words, where autonomous means more than just cars. Advancing the middle mile with trucking The e-commerce boom and demands for faster delivery have pushed the trucking industry toward AVs. For all the talk of the first-mile and the last-mile of deliveries, people rarely discuss the miles in between. Yet those middle miles hold enormous potential for automation. For one thing, long-haul trucks, central to getting goods into custom- ers’ hands, travel on interstates and limited-access highways, where highly predictable routes and lack of cross traffic play to the technol- ogy’s strengths. For another, taking human drivers out of the truck- ing equation can cut costs by 40 percent—never mind the fact that a shortage of qualified drivers has long bedeviled trucking. With those two forces in play, trucking could become the first area to deploy AV technology widely. With the trucking industry already beginning to embrace autonomous trucks, we’re anticipating demand for a new generation of strategically sited logistics centers for unloading goods for last-mile distribution and refueling (or, increasingly, recharging) to get long-haul trucks back on the highway. We’re working with partners to provide a suite of turn- key services for these centers: identifying the best sites, handling all aspects of permitting them, and—because we understand the special requirements of AVs—planning and designing the centers. Enhancing airport operations Airports are integrated transportation systems which interface almost every mode of transportation while bringing people together from around the globe. The opportunities for AV technology at aviation facilities are almost endless at both commercial service and military facilities. As the challenges of air travel have been further complicated More than just cars on the road: making Autonomous Vehicles work for us anywhere, and everywhere There are few industries that will not benefit from the safe, thoughtful deployment of AVs By Katie Clothier, Jonathan Garrett, and Grayson Brulte
by COVID-19, innovation and technology provide abundant possi- bilities to enhance passenger safety, security, and travel comfort. AV technology provides a level of efficiency, reliability, safety, and consis- tency which is simply not achievable via human resources. Things like inclement weather, the heat of summer, and unforeseen mishaps don’t impact AVs. Is it really practical to have individuals vacuum and wash acres of terminal flooring every day when this can be completed easily in the dark of night by AVs? And, what is the personal toll of handling baggage and cargo on active aircraft aprons day in and day out, winter and summer? Baggage handling and transfer is an ideal application for AV technology, and is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to viable opportunities surrounding airports and air travel. The “middle miles” of long-haul freight present enormous opportunity for increased automation.
Campus environments are ideal for early AV pilots and deployments.
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