Driverless Vans: The Future is Here

For some businesses, a delivery van can be just as important as a phone, rented office space or computer. A van can be the heart of a business and its level of success directly relates to how efficient the van and its delivery system happens to be.

Plenty has happened to delivery vans in the past few decades, including sleeker designs, new integrated technology and the opportunity to create a custom van that’s just as individual as the business it caters to. All of this gives businesses the opportunity to save money on fuel, map out better delivery and overall provide their customers with a better experience.

But the newest change to the delivery van is sure to really shake things up. The driverless van is on track to becoming just as common as rear back-up cameras or even cup holders. If you think that there’s a chance your business could benefit from a driverless van, keep reading to learn all about this exciting advancement in technology.

What is a Driverless Van?

A driverless van, also known as an autonomous vehicle, is a vehicle that has the technology to sense the environment around it and therefore operate efficiently and safely without any human input. This is done with the use of radar, LIDAR, GPS, Odometry and computer vision. All of these systems work together to help the car find the appropriate navigation path and avoid obstacles.

With so many small business relying on delivery vans to deliver their product or bring their services to customers, the concept of a driverless van is intriguing. If you own a catering business, your employees could be prepping ingredients or writing menus for future events instead of driving and navigating.

If you own a flower delivery business, your employees could focus on new marketing techniques in between deliveries, which would also be faster thanks to the vehicle’s navigation tools. Imagine how exciting it would be to see the Domino’s driverless delivery vehicle pulling into your drive in half the time as normal.

The type of business that would probably benefit the most from a driverless van is one that caters to client transportation. While you may still want to have an employee on board to monitor passengers and handle baggage, it is possible for your business to operate without an employee on board.

In 2011, an online survey was conducted. Of the 2,006 UK and US consumers who were asked by Accenture, 49% said that they would be comfortable using a driverless car. Depending how you look at the numbers, this means that switching to self driving trucks is going to be accepted by as many employees and clients as it is dismissed. Educating yourself on the pros and cons now will help you make a decision on driverless vans when the time comes.

What are the Benefits of a Driverless Van?

There are plenty of benefits when it comes to utilizing autonomous technology and while they are not all are related to business, it’s easy to see that these benefits are impressive and can have an immeasurable impact on the community surrounding your business.

 

  • Less traffic collisions: The most important aspect of this benefit is that countless lives can be saved but when it comes to business, less accidents mean less cost. There are no repair or replacement costs to worry about and insurance rates aren’t increased.
  • Saved costs: When it comes to business, it’s no secret that every cost adds up. Whether you have 10 delivery drivers or just one, being able to either cut back or reduce their routes will certainly have an impressive impact on your bottom line.
  • No more navigation: You’ll no longer have to spend precious time calculating the best route. An autonomous vehicle will do this for you thanks to its driverless vehicle’s logistics.
  • Less theft: A surprising benefit of driverless vans is that with increased technology and having a vehicle that is essentially aware of its existence, the threat of theft is greatly reduced.
  • Increased productivity: As a business, you can spend more time working on other tasks and can delegate these tasks to your previous drivers. You can also expand your delivery area or shorten your delivery time by combining human driven vans and driverless vans.

Overall, a driverless van can completely change how you do business. Depending on your business, self driving trucks can increase business at a rate that would have seemed impossible in the past.

What are the Risks of a Driverless Van?

Just like any advancement or change in business, there are risks that should be considered before switching to a driverless van. Carefully consider the following scenarios before making a decision regarding the transportation lifeline in your business.

 

  • Time and cost: The time and cost that would go into upgrading used vans or purchasing new vehicles could be substantial and might not make sense for some small businesses. However, this can make it harder to keep up with any competition that does invest in driverless cars.
  • Software reliability: If your business has even lost its Internet connection or had computer issues, the idea of vehicles becoming stranded or inoperable because of a software glitch can be incredibly concerning.
  • Resistance: You might experience resistance from your own employees or even clients. This is expected with such an extreme change but if your business relies on how comfortable your client feels with your services, including delivery, this could spell disaster for your bottom line.
  • Maintenance: Software will need to be continuously updated, along with maps and special circumstances, like construction or road blocks. Depending on the size of your fleet, this could demand an entirely new team of employees, canceling out any major cost savings.

Currently, self driving trucks are only being tested on public roads in the United Kingdom. However, many experts believe that it won’t be long before these vehicles are just another option when it comes to choosing a van for your business. Spend some time now brainstorming and researching data to see what might be the best option for your business so that you don’t get left behind in this automobile advancement.

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