Toyota has recently announced plans to develop a fully automated, electric concept vehicle able to function as a taxi or shuttle bus, distribution centre collection vehicle, delivery vehicle, mobile retail store (such as a lunchtime café) and much more.
The futuristic pod shaped vehicles will be available in 3 sizes and are expected to be available for testing in the early 2020’s.
Find out more about the latest innovation in automated mobility and what changes technology like the Toyota e-Palette and other AI could bring to the warehouses of the future.
The Toyota e-Palette vehicle could serve as a multifunctional tool for the businesses of the future, with anticipated uses of the vehicle being everything from delivery vehicles for large online retailers, to pizza delivery trucks.
Early concepts envision the e-palette to be capable of collecting goods from a fulfilment store, delivering the goods to the customer and using facial recognition to verify their identity.
Fast food giant Pizza Hut were one of the first to announce a partnership with Toyota publicly, enlisting Toyota’s help to bring their vision of delivering pizza to people’s doors without the need for a delivery driver to life.
Their Twitter announcement came just weeks after an episode of the popular Netflix series ‘Black Mirror’ featured a self-driving pizza delivery truck at the centre of all the drama, much to the delight (and fear) of fans.
We know how this goes. https://t.co/1nTDxuOrlD— Black Mirror (@blackmirror) January 8, 2018
AI has always been a hot topic of conversation in our industry, with tech companies constantly working to develop tools, software and vehicles to make life easier for warehouse workers and running speculation that artificial intelligence in the warehouse means an end for workers jobs.
Whilst vehicles such as the Toyota e-palette are still untested in warehouse environments; here a few of the anticipated benefits of such technology incorporated into the modern warehouse:
Synergy – the future of warehouse operations doesn’t look like a room full of robots. It looks like a room full of robots doing labour intensive work – overseen by a team of employees to ensure everything is running as it should.
Less Injuries – Whilst warehouse managers do all they can to protect their employees, injuries in the warehouse are almost unavoidable; this is a problem that can be eliminated with AI (unless you count maintenance and repairs!).
Quicker Fulfilment – Running 24/7 with machine precision, it’s no wonder that fulfilment could become a much quicker process with the integration of AI in the warehouse.
Lower Cost – After the initial purchase, technology such as the e-palette could reduce warehouse running and fulfilment costs significantly. With no pay required, 24-hour operation and fewer mistakes, money saved by robotics in the warehouse could lead to better benefits for staff.
Different Job Opportunities – Whilst it seems a long way off now, if AI ever did replace traditional roles in the warehouse – new, more human-centric opportunities would open up, delivering higher wages, higher levels of job satisfaction and increased productivity.
The announcement of the e-palette came a few days after Toyota revealed the launch of two semi-automated order picking trucks, designed to help speed up the process of picking in the warehouse, these picking trucks still need to be operated by an operative, but with much less work involved for the employee.
Order picking has always been the most labour intensive, expensive and time consuming process in the warehouse and throughout the years, tech companies have worked to develop an AI solution to reducing human effort in the picking process.
Despite the speculation that AI pickers means loss of jobs, picking automation has not yet had a significant effect on job security in the warehouse. A strong example of this is tech giants Amazon, who have been at the forefront of automation since its commercial conception. Despite an army of 45,000 robots, they still employ 350,000 people – an increase of 43% on last year.
Could AI have a place in the future of everyday warehouse operations? Whatever your opinion, we think you’ll agree that an efficient, space-saving warehouse is a profitable one.
To find out more about the space saving products we have available to maximise profit in your warehouse, give one of our expert team a call today on 0117 955 5211.