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Recommended Reading: Driverless Cars, Drones and Delivery

How will drones, driverless cars impact the distribution industry?

There's a lot of talk about drones and driverless cars and their potential to disrupt business models. But how close are these technologies to mainstream adoption?

“The big barrier is not the technology; it is far more the regulation and the legislation that has to be put into place to get people comfortable with the idea of drones making deliveries and taking pictures and unmanned vehicles driving up and down the roads,” says Guy Blissett, specialist leader for wholesale distribution for Deloitte Consulting, in Disruptive Technologies: Behind the Drivers of Driverless Delivery.

This social stigma is one of the biggest barriers these technologies face, but it's not the only one. The use of drones carries both safety issues with the blades used to propel the vehicle and privacy concerns with the built-in HD cameras. Driverless car technology, while progressing rapidly, still has a ways to go before it will be feasible for mainstream adoption.

“In terms of adoption, it will still take time," Raj Rajkumar, a professor at Carnegie Mellon and co-director of the General Motors-Carnegie Mellon Vehicular Information Technology Collaborative Research Lab. "To reach completely driverless vehicles without any human being in the car, we are probably at least, in terms of adoption, 10 years away.”

While these technologies are still far from being considered "mature," there are some applications for them currently, such as the use of drones in warehouses and on job-sites as surveying equipment.

“I could see this being used from a sort of reconnaissance, survey, photography perspective,” Blissett says.

For more information on these technologies and their potential applications within distribution, check out the latest issue of MDM Premium, where we finish our two-part series on the potential impact of technologies that could be disruptive to the wholesale distribution industry, including:

You can access the full issue here. Not a subscriber? Subscribe now.

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