KEY POINTS

  • The transportation and logistics industries are on the brink of a massive transformation. After operating the same way for decades, digital leaps in areas like artificial intelligence (AI) and autonomous technology are poised to transform these industries by cutting costs, optimizing delivery routes, and automating mundane tasks. 
  • Startups are the lynchpin of this transformation, pinpointing areas of need that can be tackled by cutting-edge digital solutions. That's ultimately forcing incumbents to evolve or see their core businesses erode. In this report, we look at how these startups are using new technologies to transform operations in five key areas:
    • Digital freight startups can help shippers drastically cut down on the time it takes to find carriers. While legacy companies can take up to two days to even set a price, digital freight players typically offer instantaneous quotes, all through an online or mobile interface.
    • A crop of warehouse robotics firms are speeding up fulfillment by automating tasks, thereby helping to get packages to consumers faster in the age of two-day shipping. Their robots scurry around the floors of logistics facilities, snap pictures of inventory, and help transport goods that are eventually loaded onto delivery trucks.
    • AI is being used by startups to improve supply chain management, enabling companies to determine where to best place their trucks, planes, and other assets. McKinsey estimates that AI could create as much as $1.3 trillion in economic value in the next 20 years for global supply chains and manufacturing facilities.
    • Delivery robotics startups are automating the notoriously problematic last mile. Automating last-mile deliveries through technologies like robotics will provide savings of at least 40% on traditional last-mile delivery methods, assuming courier wages of about $23 per hour, per McKinsey.
    • And a slew of acquisitions and partnerships have moved the spotlight to startups in the race to put self-driving cars on the road. The immense cost associated with developing autonomous car technologies is driving legacy automakers to turn to startups that are primarily dedicated to developing the software that gives cars autonomous capabilities.
  • Monitoring these startups offers unique insight into the development of the transportation and logistics industries at large, and how incumbents are adjusting to their new environment.

Introduction

The transportation and logistics sectors are on the brink of a massive transformation. After largely operating the same way for decades, digital leaps in areas like [...]