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Communications of the ACM


The Future of Supply Chains

Starship Technologies autonomous food-delivery robot

Credit: Charlie Leight / ASU Now

Today's supply chains are labor-intensive and expensive to run. A number of autonomous systems that reduce the human factor are about to change all that.

What do the sidewalks around us, the airspace above us, interstate freeways, and deep ocean shipping lanes have in common? The answer is that they are all places where developers of autonomous technology are trying to revolutionize the economics of supply chains. The plan is to use robotic technology to deliver anything from packages to take-out food, groceries, or bulk freight in ways that can reduce the logistics industry's dependence on that most expensive of supply chain costs: human labor. if the use of electric drivetrains can cut carbon emissions too, so much the better.


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