Autonomous shuttle the next step for last-mile logistics?

Written By Reagan Nyandoro



The last mile is a familiar phrase in the supply chain management and logistics industry. It refers to the final leg of the transportation of goods. More often than not, this phase of the journey comes with congested urban streets, meaning slower speed limits and traffic congestion.

While the distance is short, depending on the end destination, this part of the journey can often be less efficient because of the added traffic. A new possibility has begun trials this month and could bring a more economical future solution to the last mile.

Autonomous vehicle

The start of April brought with it the launch of a driverless shuttle trial in Greenwich, London. The shuttle will navigate around a two-kilometre radius of the busy Greenwich area, transporting members of the public.

Following on from the introductory passenger trial, the project will progress on to exploring the potential for driverless pods to carry last-mile urban deliveries. The aim is to demonstrate automated vehicles as a possibility for last-mile mobility, all while using a zero-emission and low-noise transport system.

Now, such technologies aren’t likely to come into place for many years yet but it does show the potential development of where the industry could be in the 10-20 years’ time. Findings from the project will also guide a wider roll-out of automated technology in all transport vehicles. Driverless trucks are currently being tested on public highways in America so it’s possible that the full supply chain process could soon be automated.

It takes time of course, but introducing the technology on streets gets the public more accustomed to seeing driverless vehicles. There are solutions already in place for faster deliveries and saving costs on transport time.

Last-mile logistics resolution

Fourth-party logistics (4PL) coordinate activities across multiple logistics operators, optimising the allocation of work to each and facilitating better cooperation between them, a resolution already in place for problems occurring in urban last-mile logistics.

3t Europe’s services help to ensure your fleet operations are as efficient as possible, putting you in the best position to capitalise on the benefits of future technologies.

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