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Mapping the Future: Delivery by Drones?

 

June 9, 2014

 

Associate Professor Kevin Gue is part of a research group that has developed a roadmap, or planning document, to address changes in the material handling and logistics industry.

Associate Professor Kevin Gue is part of a research group that has developed a roadmap, or planning document, to address changes in the material handling and logistics industry.

The day may soon come when the order you placed online will be delivered through the air — not by plane, but by drone.

Kevin Gue, associate professor in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Auburn, is part of a research group that has developed a roadmap, or planning document, to address changes in the material handling and logistics industry.

Gue has utilized his research expertise in warehousing, material handling and order fulfillment to examine how emerging technologies can have a direct impact on companies now, as well as 10 to 15 years down the road.

The development of the roadmap incorporated four workshops in cities throughout the United States to assess what the industry will look like in 2025 and how businesses should be preparing now.  This included conversations regarding the workforce, suppliers and planning systems involved in the industry. The overwhelming consensus was that stakeholders may be focusing too much on the present, and not spending enough time preparing for the future.

"As the study describes, there are many challenges that individual companies will have to solve in the future, such as robotic order picking, automated truck loading and possibly home delivery by unmanned drones," Gue said.

Companies like Amazon are pioneering the use of drones through package delivery, and Gue believes the industry will undergo a rapid change as more and more companies experiment with these technologies.

"In robotics in particular, we're going to see a revolution in the next three to 10 years that I think is going to be shocking and exciting at the same time," he said. "We're going to have robots doing things that we never thought could be done. The technology is pushing us."

By Megan Burmester, Samuel Ginn College of Engineering

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Last Updated: June 9, 2014

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