Covid-19 Outbreak Accelerates the Acceptance of Autonomous Vehicles and Drones

In the time of global crisis due to the coronavirus outbreak, global manufacturing and trade have completely slowed down. The pandemic has disrupted the global economy and has caused millions of lives around the world. Now as billions of people send to stay home in hope of subduing the virus, they are turning to technology for their needs, from food deliveries to office works, since it has hit hard the transportation and logistics.

Now responding to the challenges of mobility, several automobile companies now have stepped out, with developing and deploying automated vehicles. In China, for instance, automakers have already demonstrated the rapid deployment of driverless delivery vehicles for food and medicine supplies in most-affected areas.

While many people avoid going supermarkets and staying indoors, they are ordering their goods online. This leads to strain on logistic companies as they are facing a lack of express couriers to drive up the demand for deliveries due to Covid-19. Thus, some companies are extensively turning to autonomous vehicles to help solve delivery issues and provide a touchless system to prevent the risk of the virus from spreading. Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com, for instance, recently delivered medicine in Wuhan by its autonomous vehicle.

In addition, Meituan Dianping, China’s on-demand service platform, has made its first grocery delivery on the outskirts of Beijing with self-designed autonomous delivery vehicles. The company already began piloting its driverless delivery service in Beijing’s northeastern Shunyi district earlier this month.

Meanwhile, it is now expecting that if the outbreak ends in the coming days, the world will see many of the changes in socio-economic patterns. Some through leaders foresee the Covid-19 outbreak marks a turning point in bringing the digital revolution more rapidly than expected ever before. This also marks a decisive moment for autonomous vehicle technology, despite it has delayed many self-driving pilot programs.

UAVs in the Fight Against the Pandemic 

The pandemic has also stimulated the testing of drones in the public to deliver essentials. For instance, a Shenzhen-based company MicroMultiCopter has deployed over 100 drones in many Chinese cities such as Shanghai, Guangzhou, Zhaoqing, Foshan and other areas to ward off the disease. These flying unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are not just using for delivery but also for broadcasting information to a larger area.

Japan-based commercial drone services company, Terra Drone also turned to drone delivery to ensure the supplies of medical and other healthcare needs transported safely from Xinchang County’s disease control center to the Xinchang County People’s Hospital without exposing humans to infection.

Aside from the delivery of food, medicine, and other essential goods with the help of drones and autonomous vehicles, the use of robots has also surged across the globe. As robots are immune to infection, tech companies are increasingly deploying their robotics systems into hospitals to deliver food and medicines to Covid-19 patients and disinfecting areas that prevent doctors from getting exposed to the virus.