New study identifies scope for autonomous machines

Arthur D Little has published a new report Autonomous machines in the fast lane? that identifies opportunities for autonomous off-highway vehicles in four market segments:

  • agriculture
  • construction, including mining
  • lawn and turf care
  • material handling

The authors, Alexander Krug, Dr Philipp Seidel and Thomas Knoblinger, wrote the report after undertaking a study in which more than 30 industry and technology experts were interviewed. The study looked along the value chain, from OEMs, suppliers and distributors, through to customers. The scope covered Europe, North America and Asia.

Clearly the four market segments have different requirements and are maturing at different rates in terms of adoption of machine autonomy. Globally, there are already hundreds of driverless vehicles operating in mines, warehouses and golf courses.

The report's authors say that costs need to come down further before autonomous vehicles are adopted more widely, but this will happen with time. In contrast, the lack of regulations and standards is not seen as much of a problem, as most applications are on private land. Nevertheless, agriculture presents some challenges because vehicles operate in semi-enclosed areas; for example, children could be playing in cornfields.

While the market for autonomous vehicles will develop differently across the various market segments, the report's authors believe the broad market uptake of autonomous machines will occur around 2025, with material handling remaining the major application until 2030.

To support the development of autonomous machinery, the important technologies will be electrification (replacing electro-hydraulics), connectivity and digitalisation. These will complement robotics, automation, actuation, sensors, high-precision navigation and other technologies that have already been broadly adopted. In some cases incumbents will advance with autonomous machinery, but there are also opportunities for new entrants to the market.

Follow the link to download the full report Autonomous machines in the fast lane?.

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