The trend of Outdoor Autonomous Vehicles encapsulates the variety of self-driving robots operating primarily outside on land or water, both within private property and on public rights of way. This trend focuses on vehicles that are either completely driverless or at least highly automated with occasional control by a human driver.
The dream of self-driving vehicles has been decades in the making. Bolstered by rapid developments in artificial intelligence (AI), edge computing, and sensor technologies, it has come even closer to reality in recent years with all modes of highly automated vehicle making an appearance on the market and fully automated vehicles making test debuts. In late 2021, American startup TuSimple completed the first-ever fully autonomous semi-truck run on public roads, and a few months later, a Japanese consortium of freight companies successfully sailed and docked the world’s first fully autonomous container ship without a crew onboard. In the logistics industry, manufacturers, owners, and leasers of all modes of vehicles are starting to look excitedly ahead at what is to come, not just for shipping purposes, but all possible use cases along a supply chain.
The Outdoor Autonomous Vehicles trend will have high impact in logistics as it will significantly change the operational tasks performed by human workers and alter the way that customers interact with logistics providers in the last mile and elsewhere. This trend’s realization, however, is quite distant. While implementation has already begun with some use cases on private, gated properties, autonomous driving on public rights of way requires societal confidence. It will take many more years before people trust fully autonomous technology and regulations permit unhindered application on a global scale.