For more than a decade, the choice between a manual vehicle (pallet truck, forklift) and an AGV (automated guided vehicle) came down to a simple ROI (return on investment) formula.
The cost to purchase and operate a truck (operator sourcing, salaries, training, insurance, and so on) was less expensive than purchasing a self-driving vehicle.
However, rising wages, safety costs, and an unprecedented labor shortage are rapidly reducing the effectiveness and practicality of manual equipment.
New sensor technologies, faster computing, good wireless networks, and smarter algorithms –including machine learning – have allowed self-driving vehicle technology to progress to the point where it is often the less risky option.
More importantly, it can unlock the full productivity of existing staff allowing businesses to be more competitive in the global marketplace which is being driven primarily by ever-increasing customer expectations.