Transportation is a major expense and a huge operational burden for global business. Logistics expenditure reached $1.64 trillion in 2018 in the US alone, with over 15.5 million trucks on the road.
But transport is not just growing, it’s becoming more complex. Today’s digital-first consumers are more demanding than ever. There is a growing need for accessible, fast, affordable transport (did you say HERE Mobility?), and increasingly, goods need to be delivered not to a warehouse or wholesaler, but to the consumer’s front door.
Organizations are facing a global shortage of delivery drivers, and every fuel-powered vehicle they add contributes to urban congestion and global pollution; the business transport economy is simply not sustainable. In this article you’ll learn about three trends that can change that, and make transport more economically efficient, more seamless, and at the same time, more environmentally friendly.
In this article:
- Autonomous delivery
- Supporting business transport with smart information systems
- Helping employees get to work faster
- Mobility as a service: implications for business
Trend #1: Autonomous Delivery Transportation Trends
Autonomous vehicles need little to no human assistance. Since around 94% of traffic accidents are caused by human error, autonomous vehicles could help save people’s lives. Many autonomous vehicles are powered by electricity, and emit less CO2, and an advanced navigation system helps the vehicles locate the most efficient routes. This section reviews three types of autonomous delivery vehicles.
Hospitality Technology Trends
Businesses such as Amazon are currently developing drone systems and are testing existing ones to see how they fit their operations. Amazon believes that a section of airspace above the cities and suburbs of the world should be dedicated to the operation of aerial drones. These aerial drones will be able to fly robotically with practically no human guidance.
Amazon has set out in more detail than ever before, its idea of robotic flight. Their aim is to deliver packages via drone within 30 minutes, and they maintain that within the next 10 years hundreds of thousands of small drones (belonging to Amazon and competing companies) will fly through the skies primarily under their own automated control.
Road-Based Autonomous Delivery
1. Autonomous grocery delivery vehicles transportation trend
Grocery retailers are becoming interested in using autonomous vehicles to deliver purchased goods. Here are a few examples of companies already deploying autonomous grocery delivery in the field:
- Nuro: Uses its self-driving technology in the last mile for the delivery of local goods and services. These could be groceries, dry cleaning, or even an item left at a friend’s house. In 2018, Nuro partnered with large grocery chain Kroger to pilot a fully autonomous, on-road grocery delivery service. Kroger launched a pilot of the service in Arizona.
- Robomart: The ‘world’s first self-driving store’. It is a mobile fresh produce store, which delivers vegetables to customers’ doors, so they can buy produce from their home. Customers use a mobile app to call the closest robomart.
- Udelv: A self-driving delivery startup that is trialing grocery delivery via autonomous vans with several food markets. In January 2019 they announced a partnership with Walmart to create an autonomous grocery delivery service.
2. Self-driving trucks
Innovators are developing autonomous trucks that will carry goods over long distances safely and quickly. The technology used in autonomous cars needs to be adjusted so it fits the size and weight of trucks. Autonomous trucks may initially work in a semiautomatic way; humans will drive when complex situations arise.
Autonomous Delivery Robots
Ground-based delivery robots will soon make last mile deliveries autonomous. Robots will, for example, supply office workers with lunch and deliver pharmaceuticals. There are already successful pilots in the US and UK which have tested the capabilities of robots delivering food.
While these trials have mostly been successful, the robots have generally been tested on days with good weather conditions. Difficult weather conditions are expected to create serious obstacles for these robots. In addition, although these robots can use existing mappings of cities, sidewalks can present unexpected obstacles. Regulations regarding the use of sidewalks will also need to be reconsidered.
The following startups are creating robots that make last-mile deliveries:
- Marble Robotics: A small robot with an interchangeable cargo container. It will navigate using the system’s onboard LIDAR sensor. Its proposed temperature control system will let it keep food cold or hot as it heads towards its destination.
- Starship Robot: Founded by Skype team members, this small six-wheeled robot is already used in dozens of cities worldwide. Starship has partnered with Domino’s Pizza, DoorDash and Postmates, allowing their customers to access an on-demand package delivery service via a mobile app.
- Gita Robot: A round shaped robot developed by Piaggio, an Italian company that produces the Moto Guzzi motorcycles and Vespa scooters. The Gita robot follows its owner, and can carry out tasks such as gardening and carrying groceries. It can carry up to 44 pounds of deliveries and has eight-hour battery life.
Trend #2: Supporting Business Transport with Smart Information Systems
Data management is key to providing commuters and businesses with an efficient, convenient, and cost-effective service. You can use your data for route optimization, traffic prediction and control, smart tracking, a transport efficiency. These technologies can help reduce road congestion and CO2 emissions by encouraging the use of public and shared transportation.
Delivery Logistics Platforms
Innovative technology platforms are assisting organizations with their last mile deliveries. Here are two examples of platforms helping manage and optimize the delivery cycle:
- Bringg: A delivery logistics platform that offers smart routing and dispatch with route optimization and automated scheduling. Bringg is used to make last-mile delivery in urban areas more productive, and it also has a driver management app.
- Darkstore: This startup is a third-party logistics provider that offers on-demand delivery. Darkstore helps e-commerce retail brands store their goods in major cities. It also offers same-day and on-demand home delivery, Darkstore utilizes unused space in malls, storage facilities, bodegas, etc.
CrowdSourcing and the Gig Economy
Millions of workers are now employed in short-term projects or “gigs”, driving or delivering goods for a fee. There is a shortage of delivery drivers in the US, Australia, South America, parts of Asia, and Europe, and crowdsourced delivery has become a key way to leverage local non-professional manpower. Examples of crowdsourcing delivery apps include Postmates, Instacart Deliv and Hitchit.
Businesses are taking advantage of crowdsourced couriers, which can ship goods to customers via non-professional drivers. This has the following advantages:
- Crowdsourced couriers have personal vehicles, which can eliminate the cost and complexity of fleet management.
- While in-house drivers are paid per shift and receive social benefits, couriers are generally paid per delivery, keeping costs low.
- Crowdsourcing can potentially eliminate warehouse management, as couriers can collect packages from retail stores, rather than warehouses.
Route Optimization for Deliveries and Field Service
Route planning can be complex. Delivery businesses need to share loads across their fleet and consider delivery-time windows when planning routes.
Route optimization uses statistical analysis, historical data, machine learning, and AI to determine the most cost-effective route, given specifications such as destination, costs and fleet size. Commercial route optimization solutions include Here Fleet Utilization, Routific, and AMCS Routing.
Route optimization solutions can try out scenarios to find the most suitable solution to a fleet’s routing requirements. The most effective route optimization solutions can also minimize driving time and fuel consumption.
Intelligent route itinerary optimization solutions can also help businesses optimize their pre-booked rides into solo or shared trips according to the preferences of their customer while reducing mileage. Intelligent route itinerary optimization solutions include Mobility Optimizer.
Trend #3: Helping Employees Get to Work Faster
The length and ease of an employee’s commute to work can affect productivity as well as retention; employees who spend too long on the road might look for work closer to home. Employers benefit when their employees can get to work more easily, and in today’s congested mega cities, employee transport can no longer be ignored.
Corporate Ride Sharing
Businesses who want to encourage employee carpooling can take steps like offering benefits to drivers, and smartly matching commuters. Successful employee carpooling programs provide a practical and convenient alternative to commuting in a single-occupancy vehicle.
A few key benefits of corporate ride sharing include:
- Improved productivity and satisfaction levels
- Reduced stress and improved communication between workers
- Greater appeal when competing for top talent
- Decreased employee turnover
- Improved employee productivity and well-being
- Reduced facilities and parking costs
- Projecting positive values, both internally and in the larger community
Corporate ride sharing programs also increase work attendance, as employees are not dependant on personal vehicles. Businesses can reduce the number of days missed due to issues like bad weather, transit strikes, and mechanical failures, potentially saving tens of thousands of dollars per year in lost productivity.
There are several companies offering ride sharing services. Some of these are:
- SoMo: The all-in-one transportation app for private or public gatherings
- Carma Rideshare: Provides cars for commuting to workplaces. It uses a network of Toyota hybrid vehicles, to facilitate a high-occupancy commuter solution for all metro areas, specifically in areas with no public transit.
- BlaBlaCar Carpooling: A service run in the UK, which connects drivers and people looking for transportation. Drivers take a fee from their passengers.
- Turo: Connects car owners with travelers. A car owner can advertise their car for rent, or an individual can rent a car from someone else. They can choose specific dates and agree upon a payment fee.
- Comovee: Provides three types of ridesharing opportunities: corporate, local and event. It allows companies to host corporate carsharing. Once you have registered your business on Comovee’s platform, employees can sign up and start taking rides and carpools with others.
Reconsidering Corporate Mobility
The future of corporate mobility optimization report by EY isolated four key drivers of mobility optimization that impact business:
- Cost optimization: Mobility is often a key cost driver. However, within the intricacies of travel costs, there are factors that can be used to reduce costs.
- Sustainability: After the Paris Climate Agreement in 2016, decreasing the carbon footprint is crucial. Even minor behavioral changes are important and making the scheme attractive is essential.
- Productivity: With growing mobility demands, and progressive alternative transport modes, traveling times should decrease, and travel should be used efficiently.
- Employer travel policies: Flexible, maintainable, and convenient travel policies should be used to attract employees.
Smart Mobility - What Your Business Can Do
Every business should have a clear approach to mobility. Use your mobility idea develop a prototype and document and test it. Big and small companies should make their idea visible and tangible so they can see how it will affect their community.
Here are selected examples of what your business can include in their smart mobility plan:
- Establish offices in cities: Businesses may find the low costs of the suburbs alluring, but businesses that position themselves in dense cities can create a largely car-free workforce, as amenities are typically within walking distance and public transport is readily available.
- Install bike lockers and showers: This will make it easier for employees to bicycle, walk, or run into work. You can also provide bike parking spaces.
- Create a parking-cash out program: If an employee has access to free parking, provide a regular allowance if they move to transit, carpooling, or biking.
- Partner with local transport providers: Often employees aren’t aware of all the available transport options. Businesses can cooperate with locating transport providers to teach employees about the ways they can commute to work.
Mobility as a Service: Making Mobility Seamless
Take the time to analyze how much mobility is costing your business—including vehicle ownership costs, fuel costs, parking charges, employee transport reimbursements, and the time employees spend planning their travel, commuting, driving or flying, which represents lost productivity.
We covered many technological trends that can save costs and improve efficiency, from autonomous vehicles to crowdsourcing to ride sharing, but one technology brings them all together. Mobility as a Service (MaaS) lets you take traditional transport like private cars, busses, trains and shuttles, and combine them with new modes of transport like ride sharing, ride hailing and crowdsourced delivery, to create seamless solutions for transport problems.
Imagine your employees had a single interface in which they could order a ride to or from the office, set up a delivery system in a certain metropolitan area, or coordinate the shipment of goods from one part of the globe to another, all with the click of a button. This is the promise of MaaS, which turns mobility options into commodities, and allows users to specify their transport needs and select the logistical options that best suit them.
As businesses adopt MaaS solutions to transport people and goods from place to place, they can rely on companies like HERE Mobility to help them save time, improve customers’ experience and safety, and do all this while reducing their impact on the environment and quality of life in urban areas.