The coming Age of Autonomy: How robotics will reshape the future of logistics
CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly | December 18, 2018
We have long awaited the introduction of robotics into the supply chain. So long, in fact, that some people began to believe that autonomous vehicles and robots would never be anything more than a science fiction-style experiment. But that was because, until recently, robots were stationary, simple-functioning, expensive, blind, and relatively unintelligent. Today, thanks to the convergence of machine learning and artificial intelligence, big data, mobility, and advanced sensors, the autonomous revolution is on the horizon. The robots of the future will be smarter, lighter, and easier to program. They will also be more flexible and affordable. Indeed, it's no longer a matter of "if" robots will be operating delivery vehicles, distribution centers, and factories but "when." The scenario shown in Figure 1, where robots and autonomous vehicles play a role in virtually every step in the supply chain, from the field to the final consumer, is no longer far-fetched. Each discrete component of this scenario is already being created and tested; it will not be long before they are connected, and a fully autonomous, end-to-end supply chain becomes a reality.