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Labor shortage solution: Self-driving vehicles

The delivery vans industry in Japan has a problem with labor shortage. Self-driving vehicles could be the answer.

Yamato Transport, the largest door-to-door delivery company and DeNA , technology company, have announced recently they plan to start trial on delivery service that will utilize self-driving vehicles to deliver packages across the Asian nation from 2017.

For the beginning, the program will be tested in special deregulated zones designated by the government. When it comes into full swing, it will allow locals to order products from local stores through a dedicated smartphone app.

They will then specify an exact delivery time and where they want the package to be dropped off.

To ensure the vans operate without any incidents, they will have a driver behind the wheel at all times. Given the decreased driver involvement necessary, Yamato hopes it will be able to find more women and elderly residents willing to become delivery drivers and expects it to also be easier to find workers for early morning or late night shifts.

In the future, the transport company hopes to use fully-autonomous delivery vans without a driver on board for quick and care-free deliveries.

“The distribution business will drastically change with the spread of self-driving vehicles, possibly creating more services. For example, packages could be delivered at all hours of the day given eventually there will be no need for a driver, which would also save on labor costs. We want to realize a world where customers can receive any products whenever and wherever they want,” the company’s CEO said. When a self-driving vehicle arrives at the designated time, the customer uses a password to unlock the secure container and remove the package. (Floro Mercene)