Delivery by drone? Robotic couriers? When we hear the words “artificial intelligence” these are the kinds of thought paths that we tend to go down. However, while Amazon may have so far successfully delivered a bag of popcorn a few miles down the road by drone we’re still fairly far off AI taking over the delivery industry just yet. So, what impact is it likely to have in the much nearer future?
AI as it is now
AI is essentially machine learning. The intention behind it is to enable computers to pick up human traits, such as learning and self-correction, and to be able to use these to develop and grow as humans do. AI is already being used on a fairly small scale across many industries – for example, a number of personal finance apps use an AI for customer services to offer customers a personal finance assistant that makes intelligent choices about how to advise them. Then there are the self-driving cars that are being developed – semi-successfully – by the likes of Google and Tesla. These cars are automated, driven by a machine without any human intervention and the hope is that they will be smarter and safer than humans on the road.
AI in the delivery industry
In theory, both AI customer services and self-drive vehicles could make an impact on the logistics industry. Some day we could see delivery by unmanned vans and customer support could all be via a friendly AI. However, that’s a fairly long way off the situation today when 99.9% of the delivery industry is still powered by humans. So, is AI likely to have an impact any time soon?
Automation – automation is perhaps one of AI’s less showy facilities but certainly already proving to be one of the most useful. It effectively offers a way to remove smaller, more repetitive and more time consuming tasks from the responsibility of high value humans and place then in the hands of a machine. This could prove incredibly useful in logistics and free staff up to add value for customers elsewhere.
Planning and risk management – AI hardware or software can input into planning and risk management to help optimise the decision making process and reduce the potential for issues to arise. The more logical processes of the AI – and the fact that it can process vast sets of data that humans can’t even begin to grasp – provides an opportunity to make the logistics industry more insightful, faster and safer.
AI-driven warehousing – this is perhaps one for the more distant future but warehouses controlled entirely by computers may not be that far off. We are certainly likely to see many of the bigger brands switching to using more machine than human capital, particularly for the costs savings it can bring. However, there is still a long way to go before this becomes the norm just yet.
If you’re looking for fast and efficient courier delivery – no drones involved – contact a member of our specialist team today.