Imagine this: you’re driving on the road right behind a convoy of trucks moving together fluidly like a highly synchronised chorus line. There are no glittering sequins and feathered headdresses though. Instead, there are drivers kitted out in electrode studded caps and enormous glasses. If you are particularly observant, you might also notice that it’s only the lead driver who actually seems to be driving. Then again, you don’t really need to imagine all this because real-world trials of platooning—a line of semi-autonomous trucks able to cover reasonable distances—have already begun.
This represents just one of the many ways in which autonomous trucks will disrupt the business models and logistics supply chains of retailers, including striking the possible death knell of traditional warehouses. It will also mean a (welcome) change for customers since such autonomous technologies will enable online retail giants like Amazon and Alibaba to address long standing challenges in long haul and last mile deliveries.