The mere mention of autonomous transportation still evokes images from sci-fi movies for some people. However, the reality is that this concept is not pie-in-the-sky talk — it’s really here. And it won’t be long before it’s mainstream. In fact, PwC’s 2017 Commercial Transportation Trends report revealed that 2016 was a breakout year for new technologies in the commercial transport industry, even while many companies still resisted them. Although information systems have been disrupting carrier operations and logistics for years with mapping, GPS and other driving technologies that help companies respond more quickly to customer shipment demands, autonomous transportation is taking things several steps further.
Here are just a small sample of the commercial autonomous transportation advancements we’re seeing right now:
In early December 2016, Amazon announced Prime Air, a new program that delivers packages via drone to shoppers within 30 minutes of order placement.
Otto, a division of Uber, made its first driverless voyage last October, delivering 50,000 cans of beer via a self-driving vehicle going from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs, Colorado (146 miles).
Local Motors embedded IBM’s Watson Internet of Things (IoT) for Automotive into a driverless shuttle bus manufactured by 3D printers. Olli, as the bus is called, boarded its first passengers on the streets of a shopping district just outside Washington, D.C. Local Motors plans to produce commercial cargo vehicles based on this design in the near future.