Autonomous Land Uses
Today, every vehicle manufacture has some version of autonomous technology implemented. From the simplest systems that use ultrasonic distance sensors to detect and alert the driver that they are about to backup into a tree; to vehicles that use light sensors, ultrasonic sensors, cameras, LIDAR, radar, GPS, live traffic data, and vehicle-to-vehicle data transferring to fully drive, accelerate, and brake a vehicle down an interstate or through inner-city congested traffic without human interaction. Here are some of the ways autonomous technology is being used:
Autonomous tractors have been in development since the idea of precision agriculture came about in the 1980s. In attempt to save fuel and become more efficient, growers began using GPS technologies to guide their tractors across fields. As new technologies made wireless communications easier and more reliable, these first steps toward self-driving tractors laid the groundwork for machinery that is widely used in the large-scale farming industry. Self-driving tractors automatic planting systems have exceptional accuracy, resulting in seed conservation and a substantially improved return on investment for growers. The tractors’ sensors collect soil conditions, offering improved maintenance of already-planted crops and generate data before and after harvest. Self-driving tractors also reduce the workload and stress on farmers, providing assistance for driving and managing a wide range of tasks on the farm.
In a world where companies need to move more and more cargo every day, autonomous trucking allows companies to move more freight with the same number or fewer drivers. Autonomous trucks can more easily travel during off-peak hours, helping to reduce traffic congestion. Self-driving trucks provide a smaller ecological footprint by cutting down on carbon emissions due to optimized shifting of gears, less braking, and acceleration. In the trucking industry, autonomous vehicle technology will be a part of the solution to keeping freight on-time, safe, and affordable by solving some of the challenges with 100% human operation.
Autonomous vehicles will be able to assist underserved markets, such as elderly, those with disabilities and residents of areas where public transit is not widely available. Combining ridesharing and autonomous vehicles could reduce traffic congestion and air pollution due to less vehicles being on the road. The gains of widely adopted autonomous vehicles in major urban areas would shift major city centers from being focused on where to park our vehicles to having an abundance of high value real estate that could be transformed into affordable housing, public parks and office space.
The mining industry is an early adopter of fully autonomous vehicles and machinery, including digging machines, driverless trucks and inspection robots. Mining companies are highly sensitive to operating costs, and automation is one lever to improve margins. The most obvious benefit of utilizing various levels of autonomous technology in the mining industry is safety. Whether it be a dangerous location up in the mountains or deep underground where air quality is poor, getting the operators out of the equipment and in a control room is a huge advantage. Utilizing technology stems like Lidar, radar, GPS, and video monitoring systems, onboard computers are able to navigate the massive mining vehicles safely and efficiently through mining job sites, allowing mining companies to be more efficient.