Driverless Cars, Drones and the Material Handling Industry

hexacopter-113478_1920Driverless cars and drones are two of the biggest topics in emerging technologies today, and Driverless Vehicles and Drones (part one of four in MHI’s video series on emerging technologies that will transform the supply chain over the next decade) shares info on how these innovations are affecting the material handling industry currently and going forward.

Drones and Material Handling

With US legislators again calling for stricter guidelines concerning drones, the topic couldn’t be timelier. What’s more, the media seem to have a love/hate relationship with drones. One minute news outlets are touting Amazon’s distribution plans to use the devices – and the next they are decrying drones’ impact on privacy concerns and airplane flight safety.

Regardless, drones currently are being employed primarily for asset monitoring in the agriculture, oil and gas, and mining industries. MHI states that within five years, drones will be a standard operating procedure in many industries, and that by 2017, 20% of logistics organizations will be using drones for monitoring, searching and event management.

Driverless Cars and Material Handling

Driverless – or self-guiding – vehicles seem a bit further far off, perhaps in no small part because of our driver-focused culture, at least in part. But according to MHI, self-driving vehicles will make up about a quarter of the entire passenger-vehicle population in mature markets by 2030.

“This idea isn’t new to the supply chain,” MHI points out. “Autonomous solutions such as automated guided vehicles (AGVs), autonomous vehicle storage retrieval systems and autonomous lift trucks have been making manufacturing and distribution facilities safer and more efficient for years.”

Proponents of autonomous vehicles boast the following benefits:

  • Lower cost overall
  • Increased efficiency and production output
  • Improved safety

Prices Going Down, Implementation Going Up

Of course, as technology decreases in overall cost, it becomes increasingly attractive to businesses. That being said, we can therefore expect to see more and more uses of both driverless cars as well as drones working alongside more traditional material handling equipment in the very near future.

The key is not to be left behind.

Check out this video and others related to the material handling industry at

Did you know that automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) and vertical lift modules are bringing emerging technology into material handling today – and at surprisingly affordable prices? If you’re out of space or just would like assistance in figuring out how to maximize emerging technologies in your warehouse, distribution center or factory, contact Outsource Equipment Company today at 877-422-9144.