Stage 0 – This is today, where all driving and deliveries are done by humans.
Stage 1 – Next, truck drivers will operate semi-autonomous cabs. Last-mile driving and delivery will still be carried out by a human. As mentioned in the last post, autonomous trucks are easier to adapt than other vehicles because driving on motorways is considered less complicated than urban streets.
The immediate benefit of using an AV at this stage is that truck driving hours could be extended. With motorway driving performed by an AV, truck drivers are only required in complicated driving situations. Therefore, with time for drivers to rest on the motorway, driving hours could be extended.
Stage 2 – At Stage 2, autonomous trucks operate independently. Last-mile drivers will operate semi-autonomous vehicles and deliver manually.
At this stage, big-bulk goods transport from airport, ports, national/regional distribution centres by trucks can be performed 24/7. The benefit is that motorway traffic in the day could be reduced, since trucks can carry out deliveries during night hours.
Then, by using semi-autonomous vehicles for last-mile delivery, van drivers can provide better customer service. With vans doing the bulk of the driving, the main job for humans will shift to delivery, and they can spend their time during the journey communicating with customers or other team members.
Stage 3 – Finally, all vehicles used in the delivery process are autonomous. Even delivery to doors could be performed by robots or drones.
The benefit of using an AV at this stage is that everything could be transported and delivered 24/7, regardless of size or type. 24-hour last-mile delivery can include non-food packages, meal orders, grocery and anything else.
In the future, vehicles could be mixed-use and flexible.