Digital leaps in areas like AI and autonomous technology are fundamentally changing the way goods and people move around the world. Startups are the lynchpin of this transformation, pinpointing areas of need that can be tackled by cutting-edge digital solutions, including digital freight services, warehouse robotics, AI in the supply chain, delivery robotics, and autonomous driving software. That's ultimately forcing incumbents to evolve or see their core businesses erode. Monitoring these startups thus offers unique insight into the development of the transportation and logistics industries at large, and how incumbents are defending their turf.

In a series of five notes, Business Insider Intelligence looks at the top startups disrupting transportation and logistics. In the first note, we discussed the leading startups in digital freight and offered an assessment of their value and impact on the sector. In this second note, we will examine the startups spearheading the rise of warehouse robotics. The third note will explore startups offering AI software to improve the routing of shipments and speed up delivery times, and the fourth note will dive into the robotics startups automating last-mile delivery. Finally, the fifth note will analyze the startups developing autonomous driving software and how they’re challenging big automotive and tech companies in the race to put a self-driving car on the road.

Warehouse Robotics: Improving Efficiency In Order Fulfillment As Volumes Rise

Shipping companies are in a tight race to adopt the latest and most advanced warehouse technologies, as they look to combat a slew of new pressures facing the industry. Warehouse robotics — defined by Business Insider Intelligence as robots that primarily serve to transport, sort, or identify goods within a warehouse, logistics fulfillment center, or brick-and-mortar retail stores — are at the core of these efforts. They scurry around the floors of logistics facilities, snap pictures of inventory, and help transport goods that are eventually loaded onto delivery trucks.

Here's a look at some of the drivers behind the growing adoption of these systems:

  • Package volumes are advancing at a steady clip due to the rise of e-commerce. Business Insider Intelligence projects annual global e-commerce volume will rise 91% over the next five years, hitting $23 trillion in 2023. Combined with consumers' increasing expectations that their orders arrive in only a few [...]