Doing more with less: last mile fleet solutions.

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Nathan Forster, Head of Automotive and Transportation Marketing

Autonomy and teleoperations are helping fleet and logistics operators address the labor shortage by performing more work with fewer resources.

Labor constraints, high employee turnover, and a predicted shortage of 64,000 truck drivers this year,¹ are all pushing transportation and logistics (T&L) organizations to rethink the “last mile” of the supply chain.

The final step of the delivery process—where shipments are moved from a distribution hub to their final destination—the last mile—is both resource and time-intensive. In fact, this single leg can account for up to 53% of overall shipping costs.² Fuel, delivery location, manpower, and failure to deliver the goods can all add up quickly in the last mile.

Autonomy & teleoperations

Leveraging the power of autonomy.

Forward-thinking T&L operators are already leveraging autonomy and teleoperations in their organizations—full autonomy isn’t required to start seeing significant benefits.

Autonomy today comes in two forms: autonomous vehicles that sense their environments and operate without human involvement, and teleoperations that rely on an autonomous vehicle operator or “teleoperator” working from a remote location and using a wireless network to control the vehicle.

Both technologies are already in use in the commercial environment and continue to expand steadily for these core reasons:

  • They’re using cargo payload, rather than humans, which reduces the potential safety hazards.
  • They operate at slow speeds, generally below 12 miles per hour.
  • They use teleoperations for remote piloting, which means the human involvement happens from afar (versus in the vehicle itself).

For example, Clevon’s autonomous delivery vehicles drive on public roads and are helping to make the last mile of the supply chain more energy-efficient, cost-effective, and scalable. The company performed its first U.S. autonomous delivery³ in December using CLEVON 1, a multi-platform all-electric robot courier. The courier delivered gourmet meals from an in-flight catering service to recipients at the Perot Field Fort Worth Alliance Airport in Dallas.

In another example of how autonomy and teleoperations are being put to work in the last mile, Nuro’s R2 autonomous delivery vehicle features 360° cameras, Lidar, short and long-range radar, and ultrasonic sensors. Domino’s Pizza has used R2 to deliver food and CVS has used it to deliver prescriptions. FedEx has also partnered with Nuro and is testing out the use of autonomous bots for last-mile delivery at scale.

Drone power

Up, up, and away.

Autonomy isn’t tied to the road, either. In fact, we’re seeing more companies experimenting with drones to bridge last-mile gaps. For example, Walmart is partnering with DroneUp to create a last-mile delivery network that’s expected to be able to deliver one million packages annually.

Drones are also environmentally friendly. Their carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are typically lower than those of electric cars and vans completing individual, last-mile deliveries, and significantly lower than those of gasoline-powered vehicles.

Market trends

Doing more with less.

More T&L companies are turning to autonomy and teleoperations to get more done with fewer people, but also to better meet their customers’ expectations and keep those clients coming back.

Working with T-Mobile for Business, organizations can tap into our experience and wealth of driverless technology partnerships, autonomous fleet management, and cargo-as-a-service opportunities. And we provide the connectivity that organizations need to keep the last mile of the supply chain optimized, productive, and cost-effective. For more information about how T-Mobile for Business is transforming how fleets operate, check out our fleet management solutions page.

About the author:

Nathan Forster.

Working in collaboration with marketing, product, and sales teams, Nathan leverages perspective from his 20 years in the transportation industry that have stretched from the grease pit to the boardroom. Within the T-Mobile for Business marketing team, he directs strategy, provides thought leadership, and develops content for the automotive and transportation industries.

Prior to T-Mobile Nathan worked for a major automotive OEM. Serving as director of fleet operations and overseeing $40 million+ assets, he built processes and KPIs resulting in a 35% improvement in fleet uptime, reduced operations costs, and identification of new revenue. Equally comfortable under the hood, rolling out large-scale IoT projects, and pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in wireless technology, Nathan’s career has revolved around spearheading initiatives, establishing meaningful oversight, and using technology to solve pain points.

Nathan is originally from West Tennessee. He moved to Denver, Colorado where he attended Colorado Christian University, graduating with Bachelor of Science Degrees in Computer Information Systems and Business Administration. He currently lives in Vancouver, Washington, where he enjoys skiing, hiking, biking, and riding his motorcycles.

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