The Rise of Autonomous Vehicles

The Rise of Autonomous Vehicles

The Audi A8 has a feature to park itself automatically. You no longer have to trap yourself in the car when pulling into a narrow parking stall. Instead, you can exit your car, press a button on your smartphone, and the car will drive itself into the stall. You can even get it to parallel park for you. Press a button inside the car and the onboard computer will take over and maneuver itself perfectly into the open space. When it comes to parking, the vehicle can sense its surroundings and operate without human control. We call this an “autonomous vehicle.”

Autonomous vehicles are considered “cyber physical systems” in that they can compute information and connect to the internet. In the case of the Audi A8, it can compute its location in relation to its surroundings as well as communicate wirelessly with your smartphone.

Autonomous vehicles are becoming more and more prevalent in the industrial sectors. As companies undergo digital transformation, automation is one of the most valuable tools in their arsenal. 

Navigating the Manufacturing Plant

GE Healthcare has digitally transformed by deploying self-driving vehicles that deliver parts. In GE’s 280,000 square foot manufacturing facility, small robotic-like vehicles navigate and deliver parts to be used in repairs on medical devices. The vehicles can intelligently change their route based on the daily schedule of the facility. Its ability to locate parts and navigate throughout the massive facility has led to a 66% increase in productive floor space for GE.

Intelligent Mining

Rio Tinto is ahead of the pack when it comes to digital transformation. The company uses driverless vehicles to move mining materials much more efficiently. The vehicles are designed to receive a load of mined material, deliver it to the desired location, and then dump the material without any human involvement. An onboard computer allows them to figure out where it is going, how fast it needs to go, and what obstacles to avoid. Rio Tinto’s deployment led to 700 extra hours of operation and reduced costs by 15%. 

The Driverless Tractor is Coming

John Deere has long been a leader in digital transformation equipment for the farming sector, and it continues to lead the way with new methods of farming automation. The company has several concepts in the works for driverless tractors that will change the industry. Equipped with cameras, GPS, and other computing technologies, the tractors will completely automate several farming tasks. Whether it be for harvesting, plowing, or spraying crops, the driverless tractors will free up workers for other tasks, creating a huge impact on farming efficiency. 

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Cyber physical systems, like autonomous vehicles, are a game changer in most industries. The concept of autonomous vehicles is still in its infancy, but the productivity and efficiency gains are already enormous. The future of this automation will only get better through time.