Autonomous vehicles are playing a crucial role during COVID-19 to address the demand for contactless deliveries and driverless operations. Autonomous vehicle companies are sensing an opportunity, and are playing a crucial role in the fight against the pandemic – transporting medical supplies, groceries, and food in infected areas. The areas that driverless vehicles have made the most impact are:
Autonomous vehicles (AVs) can help alleviate the strain on existing healthcare resources that are already stretched thin while reducing the risk of exposure to the staff.
Apollo, Baidu’s autonomous vehicle platform, partnered with iDriverPlus to provided driverless vehicles across cities in China to help with cleaning and disinfecting
The Mayo Clinic in Florida in partnership with Beep, an autonomous shuttle service provider and the Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) is using Navya shuttles to transport COVID-19 tests and medical supplies from the testing site to the processing laboratory
Nuro R2 driverless vehicles are delivering medical supplies to COVID-19 hospital in Sacramento and a medical facility in San Mateo County
Contactless deliveries are most challenging for e-commerce and local grocery deliveries. A few use cases are emerging where companies are using autonomous vehicles to make contactless deliveries:
E-commerce platform Yamibuy is using the services of autonomous startup Pony.ai, to deliver groceries in Irvine, California
Autonomous startupNuro R2 in partnership with Walmart to deliver groceries in Arizona and Texas
Nuro is partnering with Kroger for food and drinks delivery
Baidu’s Apollo partnered with Neolix, a self-driving startup, to daily deliver food supplies for frontline staff members in hospitals in China
General Motors self-driving vehicle Cruise has been delivering food to seniors in San Francisco
Boston-based Optimus Ride is delivering food and Amazon packages to residents of Paradise Valley Estates
Logistics and Supply Chain
Autonomous vehicles (AVs) can greatly impact the supply chain through a reduction in transport time, faster deliveries, and safety, without the need for long-distance truck drivers. Some early adoptions in the logistics space include:
Self-driving truck company TuSimple is running its semis around the clock across the Southwest, hauling much-needed freight, mail, and food amid a worsening health crisis
Waymo is delivering parcels for UPS using its self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans in Phoenix
In the near future, we expect many more businesses and sectors to adopt autonomous vehicles to navigate the pandemic times.
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