While this may not exactly be new in terms of technology or process, adding autonomous vehicles to a factory or warehouse is an important step in improving efficiency. Following set routes to assigned locations is not something you need a human driver for, which is why Toyota Australia has started implementing autonomous autopilot vehicles in its Altona warehouse from 2020. The fleet will consist of six Autopilot Tow Trucks and one Autopilot Reach Truck, manufactured by Toyota Material Handling Europe.
It's important to remember that while Toyota is perhaps most known for their road cars over the last few decades, they are also heavily involved in industrial equipment and commercial vehicles. After all, the company's roots were in sewing machines and looms, which is a testament to their understanding of both mechanical processes and manufacturing processes.
Most important is the hybrid functionality of these machines. They are able to be operated manually as well as autonomously, with the same levels of reliability and serviceability of their all-manual predecessors. Their autonomous functionality includes obstacle detection to reduce the risk of collision, while fleet management with emergency stop buttons as well as warning sounds and lights are all integrated for better safety. These autonomous vehicles are powered by Lithium-Ion battery technology, with the ability to automatically charge when not in use.