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Goodbye Crew World: Autonomous Cargo Ships are Coming…And Ports Better Get Ready


Goodbye Crew World: Autonomous Cargo Ships are Coming…And Ports Better Get Ready

Autonomous cargo ships are on the horizon, but are ports ready for a massive change in ocean freight? Over the past several years, various cargo ship manufacturers have announced plans or designs for autonomous ships. Some have even become a reality.

Maritime autonomous surface ships (MASS) are the future of ocean shipping. Many still wonder, though, how soon these ships will go into widespread use. Are ports ready for the major changes that this emerging technology will require?


Autonomous cargo ships are still in their infancy, but they are no longer a concept or hypothetical. The technology exists and it’s part of a wave of change coming to the supply chain. Even advanced port technology is in development for these ships.

Perhaps the most exciting development in recent years is Vard’s Yara Birkeland. Not only is this ship the world’s first zero-emissions cargo ship, but it is also the world’s first autonomous cargo ship. It was delivered in Q4 2020 and began testing soon thereafter.

Vard’s next-gen cargo ship has not become the new industry standard in the years since, but it is leading the way in terms of MASS technology. It’s only a matter of time before more ships like the Yara Birkeland are completed.

So, autonomous cargo ships are a reality, and one that has already arrived. The technology exists and the world seems excited about it. Of course, there is still a lot that needs to be accounted for as the supply chain moves toward autonomous shipping and ports.


Ports around the world are clearly facing a lot of change and challenges already in the 2020s. The COVID-19 pandemic and the supply chain crisis have completely changed the game. Innovation and evolution are no longer a question of “if” but “when.”

There are a few factors influencing the move toward autonomous shipping, which are also closely tied to the evolution of ports for these next-gen ships. For instance, sustainability and climate initiatives have become major priorities around the world. This trend isn’t exclusive to the supply chain, either. Manufacturing is seeing the rise of lean manufacturing practices that aim to improve efficiency and reduce waste. Consumers are increasingly demanding more sustainable packaging for goods and options for greener shipping that are carbon neutral.

Climate change is even affecting where populations around the world are concentrated. An estimated 140 million people are expected to become “climate migrants” in the years ahead, with factors such as water scarcity and hostile weather conditions shifting where people can and can’t safely live.

All of this has a major impact on the supply chain. There is a global need for a greener supply chain, including aboard cargo ships and at ports. Automation can help make that happen by optimizing the way cargo ships operate, making them as energy efficient as possible. Given the climate factors mentioned above, it’s no surprise that the shift toward MASS is coinciding with a shift toward electric cargo ships, as with the Yara Birkeland.

Additionally, as of Q1 2022, supply chain labor shortages are still a problem at ports, at warehouses, at sea, and in trucks. As the world moves more and more toward e-commerce, demand for goods shipped overseas is only going to grow. So, there is a clear need for solutions to alleviate strain at ports. Automation is an obvious avenue to pursue.


There are already groups working to prepare ports for automation. In 2018, a team of organizations in Japan announced a major collaboration to develop autonomous berthing technology. “Auto-berthing” would allow ships to be unloaded fully autonomously, which could help ports unload ships faster and with fewer employees needed.

That same year, the Port of Caofeidian in China ran an innovative trial program for driverless tractor-trailers using self-driving trucks from TuSimple. In the years since this program, TuSimple’s autonomous truck technology has advanced even further. In fact, in Q4 2021, a TuSimple self-driving truck completed the first fully driverless test on a public road.

Automation beyond cargo ships themselves will be crucial for adapting ports and getting the most value possible out of MASS. After all, even if ships can get to ports faster, it won’t really make a difference if ports are still backed up anyway. So, it’s good news for ports that trucks are approaching full self-driving capabilities. With a combination of auto-berthing and efficient self-driving trucks to haul cargo away, ports could potentially see incredible growth in the future.


So, are ports themselves prepared for the MASS future? Today, port congestion overall still poses a serious hurdle for autonomous cargo ships. As mentioned above, to experience the full benefits of MASS, ports will need to adapt and embrace automation.

On a basic level, ports will need to be able to work with cargo ships that have no crew on board. They will need to communicate and coordinate with ships that are being helmed by algorithms.

On a larger scale, it is worth considering new technologies such as autonomous weather reporting to help guide autonomous ships into ports. This is one of the innovations that the Port of Rotterdam is developing to prepare for MASS. Ports will also need intelligent logistics and communications networks to coordinate the movement of docks full of autonomous ships. Some form of standardization will likely be key to ensuring all ports can effectively communicate with tomorrow’s autonomous ships.

In 2020, several nations around the world—including China but not the U.S.—came together to prepare ports for MASS. The organization, known as MASSPorts, has a dedicated goal of getting ports all over the globe ready for this emerging technology. Organizations such as this will be instrumental in getting MASS rolling and making it a successful mainstream technology.

Looking toward the long-term future, in the next 10 to 20 years, ports will likely experience a large-scale shift toward full automation. They will need a new niche of employees who have technical expertise and an understanding of autonomous systems. The traffic flow and roadways around ports will need to be friendly to autonomous vehicles like self-driving trucks. Ports themselves will need to scale up connectivity so they can communicate effectively with zero-crew cargo ships.


The supply chain is in the midst of an era of innovation, change, and growth. While challenges do persist, advances in automation offer a light at the end of the tunnel. Autonomous cargo ship technology is well on its way, but ports will need to adapt and gear up to reap the benefits of MASS.

On the other side of all this change, the supply chain could end up being more efficient, more technologically advanced, and more environmentally friendly.


The role of the moving and storage industry in the US economy

We often fail to see the big picture when considering the moving and storage industry. Sure, we all know that tens of thousands of Americans move every year. But, what is the role of the moving and storage industry in the US economy, and can one function without the other. This article will tackle this rather complex question and hopefully provide a deeper understanding of the moving and storage industry.


US economy and the moving and storage industry

As you’ll soon see, the connection between the US economy and the moving and storage industry is a rather complex one. There are various ways in which one impacts the other, and often those ways interact. So, while we will try to give you a decent overview, we can’t cover the entirety of this subject. If this interests you, we strongly recommend that you keep reading our blog and find out more about the connection between the US economy and moving and storage.

The tight correlation between the US economy and the moving and storage industry

It doesn’t take much research to learn that the US economy and the moving and storage industry are closely related. Almost every economy study available will show that as the economy increases or decreases, so does the moving and storage. This is best seen in times of recession, where a sharp drop in the economy perfectly correlates with a decline in moving and storage. The only notable difference is that moving and storage usually lag behind the economy. While the economy can recover relatively quickly, it takes moving and storage a bit more time to get things underway.

Understanding the moving and storage industry

When it comes to pure shipping, there are three major companies in the US – FedEx, Amazon, and the United Parcel Service. But, we have a different picture when it comes to moving and storage. The moving industry is mainly comprised of small to medium companies. These companies are spread out through the US, where each service has its area. As a moving company is dependent on the local market, it can be pretty difficult for companies to branch out. Some do, but usually at the expense of service quality.

This is important to keep in mind as there is no go-to moving and storage company, even for commercial purposes. If companies need to relocate their offices, they need to rely on local moving companies to see them through. Seeing that many companies need to relocate their offices, it doesn’t take much to realize that the moving and storage industry is integral to the US economy.

Furthermore, you have people moving for work all the time in the US. Getting the exact numbers can be difficult. But, it is safe to assume that at least a third of relocations in the US is due to work. Add to this the mass exodus from larger cities brought by remote work, and you’ll soon see how vital moving and storage are.

Do other countries depend on US moving and shipping?

As previously stated, tackling moving and storage is usually local work. Therefore, if people from other countries want to relocate to the US or transfer items, they cannot help but rely on the local moving industry. Some companies focus mainly on international moving with having websites in different languages. You will likely get help with customs and international moving insurance for your items through these companies. Some even provide educational services for future ex-pats. As you can imagine, this plays an important role in the US economy. It not only allows foreign professionals to come to the US with relative ease. But, it also helps US professionals relocate abroad. It is especially important in STEM fields as relocating to a different country is usually necessary for further education.

Military moving

The US has the most prominent military industry in the world. As such, it has a tremendous workforce backing it up, both in research and in defensive military duties. All those working in the military usually need to relocate as their duty requires. Not surprisingly, this would be a much bigger problem for both the military personnel and their families if the moving industry didn’t step in. A large number of moving companies offer military moving services. These help military personnel organize and handle relocations with relative ease. Again, we see an aspect of the US economy where the moving and storage industry plays an essential role.

Final thoughts on the role of the moving and storage industry in the US economy

As you can see, there are many aspects of the US economy where moving and storage play an integral role. From helping people relocate to find work to assisting companies in changing their commercial space. Moving industry as a whole is the literal driving force without which the US economy would be inconceivable. You can use the potency of the local moving industry to determine how strong the local economy is. Solid and stable economies usually bring in a new workforce. And the more people choose to move to a particular area, the more likely it is that a new moving company will spring up.

Autonomous vehicles

The one notable change we might see in the role of the moving and storage industry in the US economy comes with the advancement of autonomous vehicles. Namely, as self-driving vehicles become more and more advanced, we will likely see a change in how moving companies operate. As it is now, a single team takes care of a single relocation, start to finish. But, if you can automate transport, you would only need people to load and unload. While this may not sound like much, it can have serious implications for the moving and storage industry.


Jamie Walker worked as a mover and relocation organizer for over 20 years. He now writes helpful articles for Miami Movers for Less and other websites that focus on shipping, relocations, and logistics.


Vehicle-to-Everything Technology and Autonomous Long-Haul Trucking Are Among Winning Emerging Automotive Technologies

As automotive technology trends continue to create new and exciting opportunities within the industry, tech-savvy companies are building and launching innovations that are changing the auto sector’s landscape. Businesses looking to follow suit and capitalize on the latest trends have a lot to discover, with autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence (AI) applications, vehicle-to-everything (V2X) technology, tech-driven vehicle insurance and voice-operated features taking center stage as some of the most important emerging technologies.

To keep pace with disruptive tech companies that are active in the automotive sector, and convert digital threats into opportunities in 2022, automakers and aftermarket players need to grasp how these developments are impacting their vertical, and see which companies are leading the way.

Vehicle-to-Everything Technology

V2X technology is a cover-all term for the connected communication inside a vehicle. The idea is that, via V2X, a vehicle can use its onboard communication tools to deliver numerous benefits to both the driver and vehicle. This technology provides businesses and individuals with:

-Easy vehicle data tracking for insurance

-Increased driver safety

-Improved traffic management

-Predictive maintenance

V2X will help improve driver safety by using big data that can adjust vehicle settings based on current road conditions and identify warnings and road signs. Vehicles should also gain more longevity through the use of cloud-stored vehicle data that can predict potential maintenance issues. Mechanics can use predictive data analytics to offer maintenance suggestions directly through the vehicle or a connected user device.

V2X functionality is also key to an autonomous vehicle’s ability to create a picture of its surrounding environment. Within a specified range, this technology can communicate with nearby vehicles, instantaneously helping to assess the risk of crashes and take evasive actions. This makes it an essential supportive technology for autonomous vehicles as they become a more regular part of the automotive industry in the coming years.

Experts estimated that the global automotive V2X market grew from $517.31 million in 2020 to $619.42 million in 2021, and they expect the market to reach $2.25 billion in 2025. Based on these numbers, V2X seems likely to continue experiencing exponential investment and growth.

Human-Machine Interface

Human-Machine Interface (HMI) is AI that features easy-to-use high-tech functionality to better operate vehicles. It allows drivers and passengers to interact with their vehicles more easily through touch screens, swipe and gesture functions, as well as speech recognition.

HMI safety features, such as gesture functions and speech recognition, allow the driver to focus on the road without additional dashboard displays or buttons, and increases overall driving safety and enjoyability.

Car makers are already implementing multi-information displays in vehicles. HMI solutions are enabling drivers to operate their vehicles more efficiently, using technology that, for instance, aids parking, recognizes objects around the vehicle and alerts drivers when they are being distracted. All the while, passengers can enjoy online streaming entertainment or get work done on their own displays.

Investment and advancement in HMI features should continue to grow as these interfaces become a regular part of every modern vehicle. There will be an increased need for customizable technology for these interfaces, opening up an entirely new sector of business within auto tech in what experts believe will become a $4.5 billion industry by 2026.

AI-based Vehicle Insurance

While it may not grab the attention of autonomous vehicles or augmented reality interfaces, vehicle insurance is also going through tech-powered changes that are nothing short of revolutionary.

Experts predict that in the next decade vehicular AI will be able to suggest routes that are safer and trigger instant reductions in monthly insurance premiums; it will do so in real-time. When an accident occurs the car will be able to instantly determine the extent of the damage, after which the driver can send photos to the insurance company and, within minutes, receive claim approval via their car’s dashboard.

While implementation of this slick end-to-end process is still on the horizon, the technology is now available and ready for implementation. With $300 billion available annually in the automotive insurance market, the companies arriving earliest to this high-tech party will be able to reap the benefits from the start.

Autonomous Long-Haul Trucking

The era of fully autonomous vehicles dominating roads is drawing near. While much of the public’s attention is on the thrilling prospect of a car share service like Uber scooting commuters around town sans human driver, driverless commercial trucks are closer to becoming mainstream.

Two companies leading the way in developing driverless commercial transport vehicles, Aurora and Kodiak, expect their trucks will be on American roads by 2023. This is a full year ahead of the estimated release of driverless passenger vehicles.

Manufacturers have shifted their focus to driverless long-haul trucking over driverless taxis for two key reasons: the rise of e-commerce, and more technologically feasible development and implementation.

This strategy of focusing on driverless trucks makes sense, considering autonomous vehicle development took on an estimated $120 billion in investment from car companies between 2017 and 2019. Manufacturers are now ready to get their technology out into the world. The potential financial gains of getting into the commercial trucking sector are huge, raking in a whopping $791.7 billion per year, giving automotive companies plenty of motivation to get vehicles on the road.


Jan Beránek is chief executive officer and founder for U+, a leading global digital product development company, specializing in corporate research and development, the launch of corporate and startup innovations, and the transformation of Fortune 1000 companies’ digital ideas into real products. During the past 12 years, U+ has successfully turned more than 90 ideas into reality with total valuation exceeding $1B in the fintech, energy, telco, e-health and automotive industries. U+ is a digital innovation provider for Bridgestone, Volkswagen Group and other companies within the automotive sector. For more information, please visit


How Artificial Intelligence is Driving the Memory Market for Autonomous and Connected Vehicles

One of the important technologies that have emerged over the past few is that of artificial intelligence (AI). The technology is being utilized in various industries for making processes and operations simpler. Just like other industries, AI is also being widely utilized in the automotive industry for making vehicles safer and more secure. The technology is being utilized in infotainment systems that are now serving as personal assistants, aiding the driver by offering efficient navigational support, and responding to voice commands. This increasing utilization of AI is creating wide data storage capacity.

Autonomous and connected cars are generating large amounts of data, since they are extensively making use of electronic functions for providing greater efficiency, greater safety, driver assist capabilities, richer telemetric and entertainment functions, and communication between local networks and vehicles. Owing to these factors, the global memory market for autonomous and connected vehicles generated a revenue of $4,310.8 million in 2019 and is predicted to advance at a 23.9% CAGR during the forecast period (2020–2030), as per a report by P&S Intelligence. The major applications of the memory market in the automotive industry are telematics, navigation, and infotainment.

Out of these, the largest amount of data was generated by navigation features in the past, which can majorly be attributed to the surging adoption of these systems in vehicles. Navigation systems generate data related to alternative routes, shortest route, and traffic or checkpoints on the road, and need efficient storage mechanism. Apart from this, the telematics application is also predicted to make create demand for data storage capacity in the coming years, which is particularly because of the increasing preference for autonomous and connected vehicles. The system captures data via sensors, radars, and cameras.

Different types of memories in the automotive industry are NOT-AND (NAND) flash, dynamic random-access memory (DRAM), and static random-access memory (SRAM). Among all these, the demand for DRAM has been the highest up till now, owing to their effective storage of data and relatively low cost. Both commercial and passenger vehicles generate data, thereby creating a need for memory; however, the largest demand for memory was created by passenger cars in the past. This is because of the fact that passenger vehicles are produced more than commercial vehicles. Furthermore, new technologies are first implemented in passenger vehicles for testing purposes in the automotive industry.

In the past, North America emerged as the largest memory market for autonomous and connected vehicles, and the situation is predicted to be the same in the coming years as well. This can be ascribed to the presence of a large number of automotive technology companies and increasing sales of connected and autonomous vehicles in the region. Moreover, the disposable income in people in North America is high as well, owing to which, they are able to spend more on luxury vehicles that are equipped with advanced, connectivity, safety, and autonomous features.

Hence, the demand for memory in autonomous and connected vehicles is growing due to the increasing demand for safety features in vehicles.

Source: P&S Intelligence



Last mile delivery is the most expensive part of the delivery chain, often representing more than 50 percent of the overall cost. This is mainly because it is the least productive and automated step. As such, many are seeking to bring automation into the last mile. In recent years, many companies around the world have been innovating to utilize autonomous mobile robots, drones, and autonomous vehicle technology.

Various autonomous robots and vehicles (sometimes called pods) are being developed around the world. These come in a variety of shapes and forms, reflecting the diversity and breadth of design and technology choices which must be made to create such products.

Drone Delivery: a Game Changer in Instant Fulfilment?

My new IDTechEx report, “Mobile Robots, Autonomous Vehicles, and Drones in Logistics, Warehousing, and Delivery 2020-2040,” covers the use of mobile robots, drones, and autonomous vehicles in delivery, warehousing and logistics—and suggests these could create a $1 billion market by 2030. That shows how far we have come since a previous IDTechEx report, “Mobile Robots and Drones in Material Handling and Logistics 2017-2037,” which analyzed the technologies that were then emerging in the last mile delivery space, including drones and autonomous mobile ground robots (or droids).

Several players, big and small, have entered the drone delivery game since then, but at the time of the 2017 report, the idea of drone delivery was sharply dividing commentator opinion, with some dismissing it as a mere publicity stunt.

Indeed, drone delivery must be viewed within the context of the emerging drone industry, which has grown to a more than $1.5 billion industry. In the ensuing years, consumer drones’ hardware platform became rapidly commoditized with prices falling.

The idea of drone delivery entered the mainstream media in late 2013. Around that time, drone delivery of e-commerce parcels was first demonstrated in parallel with drones successfully delivering medicine to remote areas. Since then numerous deliveries have been made, partnerships announced, and substantial sums invested.

Fleet Operation to Compensate for Poor Individual Drone Productivity?

Drone delivery faced critical challenges in 2017. Individual drones offer limited productivity compared to traditional means of delivery (e.g., consider a van delivering 150 parcels in an eight-hour shift). They can only carry small payloads and battery technology limits their flight duration, constraining them to around 30 minutes radius of their base while further lowering their productivity due to the downtime needed for re-charging/re-loading.

The limited productivity, in our view, is not a showstopper. This is because fleet operation can compensate for poor individual drone productivity. The unit cost of drones will be substantially lower than, say, a van, enabling the conversation of a few, highly-productive vehicles into many small drones with high productivity at the fleet level. This will require a further major reduction in hardware costs for commercial drones, but if the past is to be our guide, this will be inevitable.

Limited payload is also not a showstopper because, according to Amazon statistics, some 85 percent of packages weigh 5 pounds or fewer. Furthermore, the fall in delivery costs and time for customers is changing purchasing habits: frequent orders of small items is replacing that big infrequent order. This matches well to the strong points of drones.

The limited range is also not a showstopper even in suburban areas where customers do not live close to a distribution point. It will, however, mandate a gradual yet wholesale change in the location of warehouses with more placed closer to end customers or the use of large mobile drone carrier vans. The former is already happening in the background, while the latter has also been demonstrated at the proof-of-concept level.

Sidewalk Last-Mile Delivery Robots: a Billion-Dollar-Market by 2030?

Sidewalk robots are often designed to travel slowly at 4-6 km/hr (or 2.5-3.7 mph). This is to increase safety, to give robots more thinking time, to give remote teleoperators the chance to intervene, and to enable categorizing the robot as a personal device (vs. a vehicle), thus easing the legislative challenges.

However,  sidewalk robots are still far from being totally autonomous. First, they are often deployed in environments such as U.S. university campuses where there is little sidewalk traffic and where the sidewalks are well-structured. Many robots are also restricted to daylight and perception-free conditions. Critically, the suppliers also have remote teleoperator centers. The ratio of operators to robots will need to be kept to an absolute minimum if such businesses are to succeed.

There is still much work to do to improve the navigation technology. The robots will need to learn to operate in more complex and varied environments with minimal intervention. Furthermore, capital is also essential. The end markets are also highly competitive, imposing tough price constraints.

In general, we forecast a 200,000-unit fleet size until 2035 (accounting for replacement). The inflection point will not occur until around the 2025 period given the readiness level of the technology. This suggests both a large robot sales market and an even larger annual delivery services market provided asset utilization can be high (the services income could reach $1.6 billion by 2035 in a reasonable scenario).

Sidewalk Delivery Robots vs. Autonomous Delivery Vans

These robots, pods and vehicles are mainly designed from scratch to be unmanned. They are also almost always battery-powered and electrically-driven. This is for various reasons, including: (1) electronic drive gives better control of motion, especially when each wheel can be independently controlled; (2) the interface between the electronic control system and the electrical drive train is simpler, eliminating the need for complex by-wire systems found in autonomous ICE vehicles; and (3) their production process needs to handle vastly fewer parts, and as such could be taken on by smaller manufacturers.

Another key technology and business choice is where to navigate. Many robots are designed to travel on sidewalks and pedestrian pavements, while the van-looking pods and vehicles are often designed to be road-going. This choice of where to travel has determining consequences for the design, technology choice, target markets and business model.

Sidewalk robots are an interesting proposition. They come with various hardware choices. For example, some are few-wheeled while many are six-wheeled. Some include a single small-payload compartment, while others carry larger multi-item storage compartments. The key choice, however, is in what perception sensors to use.

Navigation Technology Choices

Mobile robots come with various hardware choices, e.g., number of motor-controlled wheels, payload size and compartment design, battery size, etc. Almost all have HD cameras around the robot to give teleoperators the ability to intervene All also have IMUs and GPS and most have ultrasound sensors for near-field sensing.

A critical choice is whether to use lidar-only, stereo-vision-only, or hybrid. Lidar can give excellent 360deg ranging information with spatial resolution and a dense point cloud which enables good signal processing. Lidars, however, are expensive and can have near-field (a few cm) blindspot. Therefore, the choice to use lidars will represent a bet for the cost of lidar technology to dramatically fall.

Most robots deploying lidars use 16-channel RoboSense or Velodyne lidars. These are mechanical rotating lidars, giving surround viewing. The technology of lidars is evolving with the likes of MEMS or OPA emerging. These could enable cost reduction but will reduce FoV (field of view), thus mandating the use of more lidar units per robot.

We project that the cost of lidars is to significantly fall over the coming years. This has the potential to put such robots on the path towards business viability. The other challenge is near-field blindspots. This is not an issue with cars, but can be in a sidewalk, where many low-lying objects can reside closely to the robot. To resolve these, complementary sensors will be needed.

The other approach is to go lidar-free, using stereo camera as the main perception-for-navigation sensor. This will require the development of camera-based algorithms for localization, object detection, classification, semantic segmentation, and path planning.

No off-the-shelf software solution exists. Indeed, no labeled training dataset exists that would allow training lidar-based, camera-based or hybrid deep neutral networks (DNNs) for sidewalk navigation. The sidewalk environment is vastly different to that of the on-road vehicles. As such, companies will need to collect, calibrate, and meticulously label their own datasets. Furthermore, the datasets will require great diversity to accommodate different light, perception, and local conditions. Deployments in many sites even as pilot programs are essential in further improving the robots and can indeed represent a competitive advantage.

The robots are energy-constrained. As such, the number of on-board processors and GPUs should be kept to a minimum, and heavy-duty computational tasks such as 3D map-making and edge-extraction should be carried off-line in powerful services. This almost always happens when robots are deployed to a new environment: They are walked around to capture data, the data is sent to servers for processing so it can be converted into a suitable map, earmarking edges, many classes of fixed objects, drivable paths, and so on.

Long Road to Profitability Lies Ahead

In general, there is still much work to do to improve navigation technology. The robots will need to learn to operate in more complex and varied environments with minimal intervention. This requires extensive investment in software development. This ranges from gathering data, defining object classes, labeling the data, and training the DNNs in many environments and conditions. It also requires writing algorithms for the many challenges the robots encounter in their autonomous operation.

Furthermore, capital is also essential. The businesses are heavy on development costs, especially software costs. The end markets are also highly competitive, imposing tough price constraints. The hardware itself is likely to be commoditized and many will outsource manufacturing once they have settled on a suitable final design. The payback for many will be having a large fleet to offer robots as a delivery service.

Future Outlook: Significant Robot Sale and Delivery Services Opportunity

Sales and delivery firms are likely to have a long road ahead of them before they reach profitability. They should improve the robots to work in more scenarios beyond well-structured neighborhoods and campuses, to extend their operation to all-day and all-weather conditions, and to extend autonomous operation with little error to nearly all scenarios to drive down the remote operator-to-fleet size ratio.

The deployed fleet size will need to dramatically increase to expand income from delivery services and allow the amortization of the software development costs over many units sold.

We have analyzed all the key companies and technologies in this emerging field. We have also constructed a forecast model, considering how the productivity of last-mile mobile robots is likely to evolve over the years. We have developed various scenarios, assessing the current and future addressable market size in terms of total accumulated fleet size. Our fleet deployment forecasts and penetration rate forecasts are based upon on reasonable market and technology assessments and roadmaps.

Consequently, our forecasts suggest, that despite the upfront technology and market challenges, the market will grow and those who plant their seeds today will reap the benefits tomorrow.


Dr. Khasha Ghaffarzadeh is the research director at IDTechEx, where he has helped deliver more than 50 consulting projects across the world. The projects have covered custom market research, technology scouting, partnership/customer development, technology road mapping, product positioning, competitive analysis and investment due diligence.

His report “Mobile Robots, Autonomous Vehicles, and Drones in Logistics, Warehousing, and Delivery 2020-2040” covers the use of mobile robots, drones, and autonomous vehicles in delivery, warehousing and logistics. It provides a comprehensive analysis of all the key players, technologies and markets, covering automated as well as autonomous carts and robots, automated goods-to-person robots, autonomous and collaborative robots, delivery robots, mobile picking robots, autonomous material handling vehicles such as tuggers and forklifts, autonomous trucks, vans, and last mile delivery robots and drones. You can find the report here:

You can find his report “Mobile Robots and Drones in Material Handling and Logistics 2017-2037” here:

IDTechEx guides strategic business decisions through its Research, Consultancy and Event products, helping clients profit from emerging technologies. For more information on IDTechEx Research and Consultancy, contact or visit

How Technology can Improve your Logistics Operations

Like most other industries, the logistics industry faces a gradual transformation towards adapting to the internet age. The advent of new technologies invalidates age-old approaches and processes, creating the need for modernization. And with the logistics industry being as massive as it is, it’s understandable that it can be notably lucrative. Between risk mitigation and automation, there are many ways in which adaptive technology can benefit this $4 trillion industry. With that said, let us explore just how technology can improve your logistics operation.

The significance of efficiency

Before delving into specifics, it is vital to note the undisputed value of efficiency in the logistics industry.

As mentioned before, this 4$ trillion industry is massive, and its interconnectivity with other industries is apparent. Thus, efficient logistics operations can yield considerable productivity gains across the board. Not only can they provide a competitive advantage, but they can also guarantee better overall operation cohesion. Logistics software can greatly enhance one’s control and oversight of supply chains, increasing response times to potential disruptions. After all, customers of all industries value a swift delivery of goods and services, as well as quality customer support. Such software can augment all of those aspects, ensuring that potential challenges are easier to overcome.

Shipment Tracking Systems and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)

A technology that has already caught on, albeit to varying degrees, is shipment tracking. As customers would previously be unaware of their order’s status, shipment tracking systems have rectified this somewhat. With 24/7 access to shipment status information, customers can rest assured that their order is indeed underway. Some tracking systems even offer additional information and shipment notifications for additional insights and convenience. This solution can indeed improve your logistics too, no less than customer experience. Constant monitoring can save your time and money, as well as unclog your customer service channels.

Likewise, on the front of cargo management, RFID technology has also seen use in recent years. In essence, RFID tags or sensors allow companies to keep track of their inventory. Both labor-saving and cost-effective, RFID tags are often used in distribution warehouses as a means of monitoring containers. Such industries as the apparel industry are also using RFID technology for tracking purposes, with very notable success. Should you be contemplating how technology can improve your logistics operation, RFID solutions could be a reasonable step to take.

Automation and robotics

On the subject of warehouse optimization, then, technology has provided another asset; automation. Naturally, automation can yield many benefits to many industries, but logistics is unquestionably one of them. From increased performance to reduced labor costs, automation is undoubtedly a valuable asset.

Automation offers to improve operational efficiency in machines, and has already seen effective use in such trade hubs as Holland’s Port of Rotterdam. Namely, its use of fully-automated terminals allows it to reap the aforementioned benefits in terms of unloading cargo. It’s estimated that this approach increases overall productivity by as much as 30 percent – a very notable net benefit.

Similarly, robots have facilitated the rapid growth of online sales across many industries. While they are quite dissimilar from automation in many regards, they too can automate operations and thus decrease labor costs. Most notably, as far as e-commerce is concerned, Amazon has been innovative in this front. Its use of Kiva robots has reduced the company’s expenses by as much as 20 percent. A notable feat, enough so that other companies also seek to employ robots in their warehouses.

Drones and autonomous vehicles

In much the same way as automation and robotics, technology has provided logistics companies with drones and autonomous vehicles. Similar in function, both can be fine examples of how technology can improve your logistics operation.

Drones have seen surges in functionality in recent times, elevated from a niche solution to one with potentially global applications. This development was understandably followed by an array of eager high-profile adopters, such as UPS. A potential innovation in terms of product delivery indeed, drones can expand delivery options to both urban and rural areas. More fortunately still, their nature allows them to also improve logistics, by removing the factor of human error.

Likewise, autonomous vehicles can offer similar convenience. In part due to relatively lower regulations and easier testing, self-driving vehicles have been an accessible technological advancement for many logistics operations. Of course, it’s notable that this technology is currently mostly limited to warehouse management, such as autonomous forklifts and trucks. However, with rapid advancements, it may not be long before autonomous trucks can traverse the world’s highways. Both in their current and potential future forms, autonomous vehicles can quite possibly be a massive asset to any company.


As technology makes rapid strides, one can realistically expect vast logistics optimization potential. From warehouse management and monitoring to shipment tracking and delivery, the possibilities seem endless. When contemplating how technology can improve your logistics operation, both the present and the future hold much promise. And as supply chains expand and grow, it will be vital to adapt to such technologies to remain competitive.


James Clarkson is a freelance web designer and author. He often writes analyses of the shipping and moving industries, and of the SEO needs of both. He’s a frequent writer for Verified Movers, as well as other companies.