DHL mulls self-driving vehicles in logistics

DHL has published the new trend report ‘Self-Driving Vehicles in Logistics’, highlighting the key elements and significant potential of autonomous technologies in the logistic industry.


DHL drone Markus Kùckelhaus Matthias Heutger self-driving vehicle


As a first step in the self-driving journey, the trend report contains various best-practice applications from different industries and also examines concrete use cases of self-driving vehicles across the entire logistics value chain. Applications for self-driving vehicles that are discussed in the report include:

–          Autonomous transport and assisted picking in warehouses

–          Autonomous outdoor logistics like yard, harbor and airport operations

–          Assisted highway trucking and convoying in line-haul transportation

–          Last-mile delivery

“Some warehouse operations have been using self-driving vehicles to some extent for years, but making driving in logistics more and more autonomous will change the logistics sector dramatically”, says Markus Kückelhaus, director DHL Trend Research. “Moving onto public roads is the next evolutionary step. With its history in deploying self-driving solutions in controlled environments, the logistics industry is in a prime position to further shape the future of self-driving vehicles. Together with partners and customers, DHL can take a leading role on this path.”

This trend was identified by DHL along with other developments in its annually updated ‘Logistics Trend Radar’.

Wide range of crucial benefits
Self-driving vehicles can provide a wide range of crucial benefits including improved road safety, greater fuel efficiency and reduced environmental impact. However, as the trend report explains, autonomous technologies still have some way to go before reaching full maturity. Considerable catching up is also required regarding regulations, public acceptance, and issues of liability. Despite these barriers, some compelling use cases have already emerged, clearly indicating that many organizations are willing to develop and deploy self-driving technologies.