Toyota to introduce autonomous vehicles in Altona warehouse

Toyota Australia together with Toyota Material Handling Australia and Toyota Fleet Management, will be introducing a fleet of autonomous Autopilot vehicles in to its Altona warehouse from its operation start in 2020.
Manufactured in Sweden by Toyota Material Handling Europe, the fleet itself will consist of six Autopilot Tow Trucks (TAE500) and one Autopilot Reach Truck (RAE160), the flagship model when it comes to warehouse automation.
They will apply Autopilot driverless technology to achieve mobility in conveyance, towing, lifting, and be able to autonomously place product throughout the warehouse and pick orders for customers.
All models in the range will also have the ability to be used in manual mode as conventional warehouse vehicles allowing complete flexibility in operations.
In addition to enhanced safety, Autopilot will also deliver energy efficiencies via Lithium-Ion battery technology, automatic charging, high vehicle utilisation, and low maintenance costs.
Toyota Australia Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Sean Hanley, said the mobility company has a thorough understanding and appreciation of the importance of automation technology.
“Toyota Australia will continue to develop, progress, and employ these new ways of thinking whenever possible. We are extremely committed to delivering the highest level of reliability, performance, and productivity, and Autopilot ticks every one of these boxes,” Sean said.

USPS to trial self-driving trucks

The United States Postal Service (USPS) is set to trial self-driving trucks in Phoenix, Arizona and Dallas for a two-week period.
TuSimple, a self-driving truck company, has announced that the USPS has awarded it a contract to perform five round trips, for a two-week pilot. This trial will haul USPS trailers more than 1,000 miles between the Postal Service’s Phoenix, Arizona and Dallas, Texas distribution centres.
The truck will have a safety engineer and driver on board for the duration of the pilot to monitor vehicle performance and to ensure public safety.
TuSimple will run a series of its self-driving trucks for 22 hours each, which includes overnight driving, along the I-10, I-20 and I-30 corridors to make the trip through ArizonaNew Mexico and Texas.
The freight that flows along I-10 corridor accounts for 60 percent of the total economic activity in the United States.
“It is exciting to think that before many people will ride in a robo-taxi, their mail and packages may be carried in a self-driving truck. Performing for the USPS on this pilot in this particular commercial corridor gives us specific use cases to help us validate our system, and expedite the technological development and commercialisation progress,” Dr. Xiaodi Hou, Founder, President and Chief Technology Officer, TuSimple said.

Autonomous connected-cars

Transport technology: act now

Australia has the opportunity to be a leader in the global shift to clean, safe, efficient transport using low and zero-emission vehicles (LEV), connected autonomous vehicles (CAV), high-frequency mass transit and intelligent transport systems.
That’s the conclusion of the report Shifting Gears: Preparing for a Transport Revolution, by the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering. A four-page summary can be accessed here and a video here.
The report, which identifies three key challenges for the transport sector – lower emissions, health, and efficient movement of people and freight – provides a blueprint for transport planning to 2030 for an incoming Federal Government.
Recommendations include the need to encourage rapid and widespread uptake of LEV, including electric cars.
To make the shift, the report recommends:

  • A national target to drive the uptake of LEV in Australia.
  • Incentives to use LEV as fleet vehicles.
  • Industry to lead the way in the uptake of LEV by ensuring that vehicles imported into Australia meet stringent standards for emissions, set by government.

The report also highlights the value of CAV, which can range from cars with partial automation through to fully automated vehicles that communicate with each other through the mobile network, and recommends the expansion of mobile coverage across the entire road network.

The authors

The investigation into the transport industry’s technology readiness was chaired by two Academy Fellows, Kathryn Fagg FTSE and Drew Clarke AO PSM FTSE.
Ms Fagg said: “The rapid advance of digital technologies across all sectors of the global economy has resulted in an extraordinary period of change.
“With Australia’s geographic isolation and long distances between urban centres, the transport sector will be both significantly disrupted and revolutionised by this technological transformation.
“Failure to be prepared will risk a decline in many aspects of our Australian way of life and society, including increased congestion and vehicle-related emissions, a deterioration in health, safety and security, and a negative impact on the cost of living, productivity and the ease of mobility.
“Australia is performing well on a number of readiness indicators and is well place to capitalise on the coming technology revolution, but we need to make smart, strategic decisions to keep pace with the technological frontier.”
Mr Clarke said: “The Academy has identified sustainability and climate change, productivity, and health as the three key challenges that will need to be addressed within the transport sector over the next decade.
“Specifically, the transport sector will need to lower emissions, improve the efficient movement of people and freight, and reduce transport-related deaths and serious injuries.
“The deployment of connected autonomous vehicles, low and zero-emission vehicles, high-frequency mass transport and intelligent transport systems are potential solutions to these challenges.”

Other recommendations in the report include:

  • Governments to set nationally consistent standards to support. productivity-enhancing technology, including for charging infrastructure and connections, data sharing and data privacy.
  • Competitive grants programs that encourage the trial of transport technologies that can be adapted to Australia’s unique geographical or climatic conditions.
  • Integrated land use and transportation planning to take into account likely network use changes from new technologies.
  • Strengthened teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects in primary and secondary schools, to support the workforce of the future.
  • University and VET courses to be developed in collaboration with industry, to ensure the relevant skills are available.
  • The report also provides a roadmap for future research to address the challenges the transport sector will face in the decade to come. Research priorities include:
    • Impact of LEVs on the grid and emissions
    • What technologies should Australia adopt early, and why?
    • What are the skills requirements of the future workforce?

The Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering is undertaking a major three-year (2018-2020) Australian Research Council Learned Academies Special Projects-funded research project to examine the readiness of different Australian industry sectors to develop, adapt and adopt new and emerging technologies, with a horizon out to 2030. The transport sector is the first industry sector to be examined by the project.
 

Boeing goes pilotless

Boeing has successfully completed the first test flight of its autonomous passenger air vehicle (PAV) prototype in Manassas, Virginia. Boeing NeXt utilised Boeing subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences to design and develop the electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft and will continue testing to advance the safety and reliability of on-demand autonomous air transportation.
The PAV prototype completed a controlled take-off, hover and landing during the flight, which tested the vehicle’s autonomous functions and ground control systems. Future flights will test forward, wing-borne flight, as well as the transition phase between vertical and forward-flight modes. This transition phase is typically the most significant engineering challenge for any high-speed VTOL aircraft.
“In one year, we have progressed from a conceptual design to a flying prototype,” said Boeing Chief Technology Officer Greg Hyslop. “Boeing’s expertise and innovation have been critical in developing aviation as the world’s safest and most efficient form of transportation, and we will continue to lead with a safe, innovative and responsible approach to new mobility solutions.”

Powered by an electric propulsion system, the PAV prototype is designed for fully autonomous flight from take-off to landing, with a range of up to 50 miles (80.47 kilometres). Measuring 30 feet (9.14 metres) long and 28 feet (8.53 metres) wide, its advanced airframe integrates the propulsion and wing systems to achieve efficient hover and forward flight.
The test flight represents the latest milestone for Boeing NeXt. The division works with regulatory agencies and industry partners to lead the responsible introduction of a new mobility ecosystem and ensure a future where autonomous and piloted air vehicles safely coexist. In addition to the PAV, the Boeing NeXt portfolio includes an unmanned fully electric cargo air vehicle (CAV) designed to transport up to 500 pounds (226.80 kilograms) and other urban, regional and global mobility platforms. The CAV completed its first indoor flight last year and will transition to outdoor flight testing in 2019.
“Boeing was there when the aviation industry was born and in our second century, we will unlock the potential of the urban air mobility market,” said Steve Nordlund, vice president and general manager of Boeing NeXt. “From building air vehicles to airspace integration, we will usher in a future of safe, low-stress mobility in cities and regions around the world.”

Autonomous ships market worth $19.1 billion by 2030

According to a new market research report the autonomous ships market is estimated to be AUD 8.4 billion in 2018 and is projected to reach AUD 19.1 billion by 2023, with Asia Pacific showing the highest potential for implementation of autonomous ships.
The report finds that this market is driven by factors such as the increasing world trade by sea, increasing maritime navigation, increasing demand for automation systems for safety, and growing maritime tourism.
The fully autonomous segment to grow at a higher CAGR in the autonomous ships market, among all autonomy level during the forecast period
Based on autonomy, the fully autonomous segment is estimated to lead the autonomous ships market during the forecast period. The increasing demand for autonomous ships owing to rising human error-related accidents and increased operational expenditure is expected to drive the market for the full autonomy segment.
Increase in the demand for commercial vessels is expected to drive the line fit segment in the autonomous ships market
Based on end use, the line fit segment of the autonomous ships market is projected to have the highest CAGR in 2018, as a result of the increase in demand for automation systems from ship operators. As the demand for commercial ships is expected to increase in the future, the line fit segment is expected to grow.
Asia Pacific is estimated to lead the autonomous ships market in 2018. Asia Pacific has witnessed rapid economic development over the years, resulting in an increase in maritime trade. This rise in sea trade has subsequently led to an increasing demand for ships for the transportation of manufactured goods worldwide. Thus, the rising number of ships has increased the demand for autonomous ships in the Asia Pacific region.
The major players in the autonomous ships market include Wartsila (Finland), Kongsberg Gruppen (Norway), Northrop Grumman (US), Rolls-Royce (UK), General Electric (US), ABB (Switzerland), and Honeywell International (US), among others. Rolls-Royce and Kongsberg Gruppen are key market players engaged in contracts and acquisitions to increase the sale of automation systems and autonomous ships for different applications.
Read more:

Hype or reality?

Drones, driverless trucks and robots are commonly discussed in the logistics sector as game-changing factors, but are these concepts largely hype? LMH finds out.
When Amazon made its first-ever public Prime Air drone delivery in the US last year, people in the logistics sector started to consider and ask questions around whether this would be something that the industry would adopt in the near future.
Many of the tech giants, including Google, Apple, Microsoft and Uber, are investing in and testing drones, but is there really a place for drones in large-scale distribution?
The Amazon test that took place in 2017, saw a drone drop off some bottles of sunscreen for attendees at the company’s conference in California. While this grabbed the headlines globally, is this practical in terms of commercial and large-scale delivery?
According to Andrew Clark, Managing Director at Logistics Help, a lot of the technology that is gripping the media is a long way of from actual practical implementation. “Some of this technology is looking further and further into the future, this all may be coming, it’s definitely not in the near future.”
Andrew points out that, according to current Australian legislation, drones deliveries are prohibited in cities due to the 30 metre no fly radius from people. He then asks, whether we even want a world where there are thousands of drones flying around and delivering packages all the time?
While some do argue that these disruptive technologies will shape the future of logistics, Andrew refers to the Gartner Hype Cycle, to try to understand the implications of these advancements in technology.
The Gartner Hype Cycle was established to provide a graphic representation of the maturity and adoption of technologies and applications, and how they are potentially relevant to solving real business problems and exploring opportunities.
The methodology aims to give a view of how a new technology or application will evolve over time, providing a sound source of insight to manage its deployment within the context of specific business goals.
The hype cycle is broken down into five phases of a technology’s life cycle. According to Gartner, first there is the innovation trigger, this is the technology which kicks things off. There will be early proof-of-concept stories and media interest that trigger publicity, but often no usable products exist and commercial viability is unproven.
Next in the cycle is the peak of inflated expectations. At this stage, there are a number of success stories, much like Amazon’s sunscreen delivery. Here some companies start to take action and invest in the technology.
After this, Gartner describes what happens as a trough of disillusionment. The interest has faded as experiments and practical implementations fail to deliver. Producers of the technology fail and investments continue only if the surviving providers improve their products to the satisfaction of early adopters.
Andrew offers the example of Rethink Robotics, a robotics company that launched in 2008 and closed in October this year. Rethink Robotics was a US-based company that pioneered the development of cobots ­– collaborative robots designed to work alongside humans.
“This concept was all over the news, it was impressive technology but we are at least five and probably ten of more years away from a robot that replaces a storeman or a worker. The Rethink Robotics just weren’t a product that people needed to buy,” Andrew says.
The final stage in the Gartner Hype Cycle is the plateau of productivity. This is when mainstream adoption starts to take off. Criteria for assessing viability is more clearly defined and the technology’s application and relevance starts to pay off.
For Andrew, some of the technologies that are currently in the early stages of the hype cycle are a long way from reality, especially for the small to medium enterprise market. “If a lot of these technologies get used at all, they will be largely for the big companies to live with the costs. At the moment, there is marginal or zero return on investment.”
Using drones as an example, Andrew says that if they do have a place in logistics it is most likely for remote deliveries. “With drones, there are issues around risk, loss of asset, damaged asset etc. If you were going to lose say 10 per cent of your drone fleet a year, you might just decide to put the parcel in a truck and drive it.”
Back to basics
Andrew argues that many businesses are yet to take advantage of technology that is already widely available. Warehouse Management Systems, for instance, have been on the market and transforming logistics operations for nearly 30 years. But according to Andrew, most are smaller and medium sized businesses are yet to take advantage of the technology.
“It’s all well and good talking about drones, robotics, Industry 4.0, but in many warehouses the most advanced technology used to assist order picking ia a piece of paper.”
Part of the slow deployment of technology is down to the perception of cost, but Andrew says the cost of logistics software and technology has fallen significantly over the last few years and it’s not more affordable than ever.
“The small businesses have the same problems as the big businesses. A small e-commerce business needs a very sophisticated warehouse system to run it. They can have 1000’s of orders a day, that are being processed entirely on a paper-based system. This could take 20-30 people to process, but with the right systems they could do it with half that number,” Andrew says.
As businesses start to scale up and grow, if they cannot fulfil orders accurately and on time, they won’t survive, he says. “There are two main problems that SMEs face with regards to logistics. They struggle to manage their inventory well and their warehouses are run with old and inefficient practices and little or no technology support.”
Sophisticated inventory planning is key in the e-commerce world. “You can easily have several million dollars of inventory and not be a big business. But if you are not buying and selling correctly you will over buy things that don’t sell and under buy things that do. Businesses end up losing sales because they can’t keep up with demand and have to discount, or discard underperforming stock,” Andrew says.
Many of the big corporations are doing all of the right things with regard to warehouse management, but Andrew believes that it’s the SMEs that are getting left behind. “When they start looking to improve their logistics operations they are often struggling to find the skills and knowledge needed to implement these systems.”
Andrew believes that SMEs should have access to the same advanced logistics practice and technology that are common practice in the corporate world, but the SMEs may be unaware of the many benefits they could realise. “SMEs would be far better off implementing better inventory management and warehouse management systems, before investing in over-hyped technology such as drones and robotics.”
 

Autonomous trucks: drivers remain, for lower-paid tasks

Image: Most likely automation scenario, absent policy intervention.

University of Pennsylvania sociologist Steve Viscelli has conducted a thorough study into driverless trucks and has just released his final report Driverless? Autonomous Trucks and the Future of the American Trucker.
The study was conducted on behalf of the Centre for Labor Research and Education at the University of California, Berkeley, and Working Partnerships USA, and questioned whether autonomous trucks will mean the end of the road for truck drivers. His findings are summarised below.
Will autonomous trucks mean the end of the road for truck drivers? The USD 740-billion-a-year US trucking industry is widely expected to be an early adopter of self-driving technology, with numerous tech companies and major truck makers racing to build autonomous trucks. This trend has led to dozens of reports and news articles suggesting that automation could effectively eliminate the truck-driving profession.
By forecasting and assessing multiple scenarios for how self-driving trucks could actually be adopted, this report projects that the real story will be more nuanced but no less concerning.
Autonomous trucks could replace as many as 294,000 long-distance drivers in the US, including some of the best jobs in the industry. Many other freight-moving jobs will be created in their place, perhaps even more than will be lost, but these new jobs will be local driving and last-mile delivery jobs that — absent proactive public policy — will likely be misclassified independent contractors and have lower wages and poor working conditions.
Throughout this transformation, public policy will play a fundamental role in determining whether we have a safe, efficient trucking sector with good jobs or whether automation will exacerbate the problems that already pervade some segments of the industry. Trucking is an extremely competitive sector in which workers often end up absorbing the costs of transitions and inefficiencies. Strong policy leadership is needed to ensure that the benefits of innovation in the industry are shared broadly between technology companies, trucking companies, drivers, and communities.
The findings are based on in-depth industry research and extensive interviews with the full range of stakeholders: computer scientists and engineers, Silicon Valley tech companies, venture capitalists, trucking manufacturers, trucking firms, truck drivers, labour advocates and unions, academic experts, and others.
How many will go – 294,000 or 2.1 million?
Prior studies and news stories have suggested that nearly all of the roughly 2.1 million heavy-duty truck drivers in the United States could lose their jobs to automation. However, that number includes many industry segments that are unlikely to be automated in the near future, such as local pickup and delivery and carriers using specialised equipment. This report finds that the jobs most at risk of displacement are long-distance driving jobs with few specialised tasks, representing about 294,000 drivers.
What is likely to happen?
This study is based on an analysis of six potential scenarios for how self-driving technology could be used in the trucking industry. The scenarios are the result of interviews with engineers, developers, trucking firms, and drivers, along with reviews of industry trade literature.
Human–human platooning. A series of human-driven trucks would be electronically linked, with the lead truck controlling speed and braking in the following truck(s). This approach would let the trucks travel much closer together on the highway, improving aerodynamics and fuel efficiency. Each truck would still have a human driver to maintain the lane and navigate local streets.
Human–drone platooning. Similar to the human–human platoon, except that a single human driver would lead a platoon of autonomous drone trucks on the highway. The human driver would be available to operate the lead truck, manage unexpected situations, or make repairs and ensure safety if a truck broke down mid-route. As in the exit-to-exit scenario below, local drivers would bring loads to an autonomous truck port (ATP) near the highway, where they would swap trailers with the drone trucks for the highway platoon.
Highway automation + drone operation. Human operators would remotely control trucks on local streets and in complicated situations, and then trucks would drive autonomously on the highway. This approach would rely on highly trained dock staff to handle tasks currently performed by drivers, such as inspection and coupling.
Autopilot. Similar to autopilot in airplanes, a human would handle loading and local driving, then sleep in the back of the truck while the computer drove on the highway.
Highway exit-to-exit automation. Human drivers would take care of non-driving tasks and navigate complicated local streets, then swap trailers with self-driving trucks at an ATP next to the highway. The autonomous truck would handle the long-distance freeway driving, then hand off the load at an ATP near the destination.
Facility-to-facility automation. In situations where warehouses and shipping facilities are located near major interstates, autonomous trucks may be able to handle industrial roads (where there are few pedestrians and complex intersections) and drive directly from origin to destination.
Absent significant changes in the policy or economic context, this report concludes that highway exit-to-exit automation is the most likely scenario to be widely adopted in the future. However, human-led platoons represent a model that has fewer technological challenges, a strong economic case, and better jobs for long-distance drivers.
 

Giving way to the wealthy – and will freight fit in?

Autonomous vehicles could see privileged road access for those prepared to pay a premium, said Monash University ethicists Professor Robert Sparrow and Dr Mark Howard.
Online auctions could determine who gets through an intersection first and faster routes reserved for higher-paying customers, Professor Sparrow said.
Autonomous vehicles offer an opportunity to apply free market principles and create a ‘market in mobility’ by pricing road access for more efficient use of an increasingly scarce resource.
But increased efficiency could come at significant social, ethical and political cost, he warned.
An equal place where all users have the same rights and subject to the same laws – no matter what type of car they drive –  could become a place where the wealthy can buy their right of way.
“The logic of the free market, when unleashed on urban transport, points firmly to pricing journey times — and therefore access to space on the roads — in accordance with the ability to pay,” Prof Sparrow said.
“The cars of those who paid lower prices could be made to slow down and move aside in order to allow the cars of those who had paid higher prices to pass them, making the mobility privileges purchased by the wealthy all-too-obvious to the poor.”
In feudal times ‘commoners’ were often expected, or forced by law, to make way for the nobility on roads.
In the future, algorithms will replace expectations of ‘giving way to the wealthy’ with technology determining traffic flows that provide a daily reminder of someone’s place in society.
The prospect of a ‘market in mobility’ would also lead to roads being private, rather than public space, effectively controlled by a small number of companies operating fleets of vehicles.
“It would also result in private corporations controlling access to a good — mobility — that is itself essential to social and political participation, entrenching the divide between rich and poor.
“It’s something governments and policymakers need to carefully consider in their quest for more efficient road networks.”
 

Autonomous and electric: here next year

ZF CEO Wolf-Henning Scheider and Dr Günther Schuh, founder and CEO of e.GO Mobile AG based in Aachen, have announced that series production will begin in Aachen in 2019.
The e.Go Moove GmbH joint venture partners manufacture people and cargo movers primarily for the urban mobility needs of the future. Five-digit volumes are initially scheduled for annual production and ZF is expecting that the demand for these vehicles will reach approximately one million in the next five to seven years.
The company is equipping the e.Go Mover with electric drive systems, steering systems and brakes as well as ZF’s ProAI central computer (using artificial intelligence) and sensors which enable automated driving functions.
“System providers like ZF can significantly benefit from the worldwide trend toward automated driving and electromobility,” said ZF CEO Wolf-Henning Scheider during the ZF Technology Day 2018 in Friedrichshafen in July.
“The e.GO Mover is the first production-ready vehicle featuring ZF systems that provides an autonomous mobility concept for cities.”
ZF is presenting further examples for digitally connected technologies using an autonomous, electrically-powered delivery vehicle for package delivery. With this, the courier neither has to drive nor park – the vehicle can follow them independently from one delivery point to the next with zero emissions.
A benefit for commercial vehicles
At the IAA Commercial Vehicles show in September this year, ZF will show further use cases for its ZF ProAI supercomputer and broad set of related sensor systems that can help to increase efficiency and save costs throughout the entire logistics chain.
ZF’s CEO Wolf-Henning Scheider clearly sees the benefits for commercial vehicles when it comes to introducing autonomous systems.
“Initially, we expect to see automated driving activities more commonplace on company premises and logistics depots, in harbours or in agricultural environments as operations there tend to be more recurrent and the surroundings are not too complex.”
The technology is also expected to prevail in freight logistics and passenger transport because it can reduce operating costs and at the same time help to increase safety for all road users.

Toyota partners with Uber, Amazon on automated delivery vehicle concept

In the US, automotive manufacturer Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) has announced the launch of a new alliance focused on developing autonomous electric vehicles for parcel delivery, ride sharing, on-the-road e-commerce and more.
The alliance already has the support of US-based e-commerce company Amazon, ride-share companies DiDi and Uber, automotive manufacturer Mazda, and restaurant chain Pizza Hut.
Together, they will reportedly collaborate on vehicle planning, application concepts and vehicle verification activities.
Akio Toyoda, President, TMC, revealed that the new e-Palette alliance will leverage Toyota’s Mobility Services Platform (MSPF) to develop a suite of connected mobility solutions and a flexible, purpose-built vehicle.
“The automobile industry is clearly amidst its most dramatic period of change as technologies like electrification, connected and automated driving are making significant progress,” said Toyoda. “Toyota remains committed to making ever better cars. Just as important, we are developing mobility solutions to help everyone enjoy their lives, and we are doing our part to create an ever-better society for the next 100 years and beyond.
“This announcement marks a major step forward in our evolution towards sustainable mobility, demonstrating our continued expansion beyond traditional cars and trucks to the creation of new values including services for customers.”
In the near term, the Alliance will focus on the development of the new e-Palette Concept Vehicle, also unveiled at CES by Toyoda. It is a fully automated, “next generation–battery” electric vehicle (BEV) designed to be scalable and customisable.
Toyota plans to conduct feasibility testing of the e-Palette Concept in various regions, including the US, in the early 2020s, and hopes to have the vehicle on location at the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo in 2020.
toyota logistics concept 2

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