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COVID-19 to Accelerate Autonomous Freight

May 5, 2020

City governments are adjusting to a new reality, with COVID-19 driving urban resilience and digital transformation strategy agendas, finds global tech market advisory firm, ABI Research. This is reflected in the deployment of a range of technologies for new use cases during the current emergency:

Drones – Communication and enforcement of social distancing rules; delivery of medical supplies

New types of surveillance – AI-based remote temperature sensing (Kogniz Health)

Autonomous freight – Autonomous last mile delivery (Beep, Navya, Nuro, Waymo, Postmates)

Digital Twins – Holistic, transversal, real-time visibility for resources, assets, and services (Siradel)

Real-time dashboards (City of Boston) and data sharing including the use of smartphone data crowdsourcing for location tracking

“While many of the measures taken by city governments during COVID-19 are decided on the fly requiring high levels of improvisation, it has resulted in a rich laboratory type learning experience in terms of how to take advantage of the inherent flexibility of technologies to address emergency situations and challenges linked to demand-response management of assets and services,” says Dominique Bonte, Vice President End Markets at ABI Research. “This will have a lasting impact, coming out of COVID-19 during and after the drawn-out recovery period, in the form of a step change in how resilience is approached and generalized, allowing to prepare better for future calamities, a distinct silver lining on a very dark COVID-19 cloud.”

At the same time cities are reaping the benefits of a digital only lifestyle in the form of the sudden adoption of e-Government services, e-Health and teleconsultation, remote work, online education, and e-Commerce resulting in huge drops in traffic levels. These, in turn, are dramatically decreasing congestion, fatalities, and air pollution. Importantly, post-COVID-19 traffic levels are expected to only reach between 80% and 90% of the pre-COVID-19 levels, as digital lifestyles take hold more permanently, driven by both public and private initiatives and incentives. The result will have lasting positive effects on the environment.

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