SupplyChainBrain: Watch: The Coming of Automated Vehicles in Industrial Environments

February 28, 2021

O’Melveny partner Melody Drummond Hansen and counsel Jason Orr, two members of the firm’s Automated and Connected Vehicles Group, which Drummond Hansen leads, sat down with SupplyChainBrain Editor-in-Chief Bob Bowman to discuss the role automated vehicles (AVs) play in industrial and commercial environments.

Like many things, AVs’ application to industrial environments depends on a number of factors, such as specific use cases, product manufacturer, and affordability. Hazardous environments like mines and commercial distribution centers like warehouses and ports are ripest for AV industrial adoption, according to Orr and Drummond Hansen.

While AVs have more obvious upsides, such as the reduction of human-involved workplace accidents and more eco-friendly electric powerings, they can also lead to greater efficiencies that in turn lead to cost savings for companies, said Orr. Their main drawback, added Drummond Hansen, has less to do with the tech itself than a lack of experience with it. Would-be adopters who remain skeptical due to limited familiarity will need to be educated, but “getting the public up to speed can be a challenge,” she noted.

Industrial-use AVs have a key advantage over the more commonly known driverless passenger vehicles: “you don’t have a pedestrian darting out in front of the vehicle,” stated Drummond Hansen. She framed limited use industrial applications as a sandbox of sorts that allows the technology to be tested in a risk controlled environment.

Orr and Hansen are bullish on industrial-use AVs due in part to their reliability in augmenting some of the most hazardous, repetitive jobs in the supply chain. “Going forward we’re going to see more automation, and automation in more places,” said Orr.

Watch the video, courtesy of SupplyChainBrain, below. SupplyChainBrain subscribers can also access the full article and video here.