From 3-day to 2-hour deliveries, from trucks to drones, the logistics sector has seen its fair share of action in the past few years. An industry that traditionally relied on pen-and-paper and trained drivers for moving goods from one place to another has now become more complex, sophisticated and connected than ever.

In an attempt to keep up with customer expectations regarding technology, communication and delivery speeds, logistics companies are looking at cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain and Internet of Things (IoT) to help stay competitive and reduce costs.

Here are five cutting-edge technologies in position to transform the logistics sector:

Truck platooning addresses driver shortage

The global truck platooning market size is likely to reach $4590.3 million by 2025, at a CAGR of more than 32%, according to a report published by Allied Market Research, Portland, Ore.

Truck platooning is the linking of two or more vehicles in convoy, using connectivity solutions and automated driving assistance systems. The human driver operates the lead vehicle at the head of the platoon, while other vehicles connect to the leader vehicle and follow along autonomously.

Truck platooning could combat the driver shortage by enabling one driver to lead several vehicles. This technology also has the potential to reduce fuel consumption, control carbon footprint and cut costs by saving driver salaries.

RFID labels and antennas simplify inventory management

Radio frequency identification (RFID) technology is being used in warehouses to track inventory and movement of goods in real-time. A sensor or tag is placed on the product that then sends out radio waves. The captured data is processed to track a product’s journey through the supply chain. This data helps in improving warehouse efficiency, inventory management and logistics operations. The RFID tags can be programmed to capture specific information, such as time and place of manufacturing and packing and shipping dates.

Autonomous vehicles and drones make the delivery process more efficient

Imagine a world where you receive a delivery from an unmanned aerial vehicle, or a computer drives you home from your office. This is precisely where the logistics industry is headed. According to a report by Mckinsey, 80 percent of all delivery packages will soon be delivered by autonomous vehicles.

The U.S. Postal Service tested driverless delivery trucks earlier this year. While it was just a pilot, it is a significant step in this breakthrough technology. Meanwhile, Amazon is working on a futuristic drone delivery system to deliver packages to customers in less than 30 minutes. Although it is not ready to launch yet, this service will change the face of the logistics industry.

Chatbots strengthen customer service

Nearly 80% of all customer engagement can be handled by bots, according to a report released by Accenture, Chicago. Chatbots are capable of providing just as much assistance to customers as real employees. Advanced chatbots with access to the databases of various businesses help to monitor and manage inventory, organize fleet, process customer orders and handle other warehousing operations. UPS launched a beta version of a chatbot that imitates human speech to help users get shipping rates and track their UPS packages.

Telematics and route planners reduce fuel costs

New age telematics systems are not only helping monitor vehicles, but also provide crucial field operations data used to make operations more efficient. The route planners also come with advanced route optimization technology that helps optimize routes, improve vehicle utilization and track driver activities. Users can track and improve driver behavior such as speeding, acceleration and harsh braking to reduce fuel consumption and improve driver safety. Managers can also set up geofences to enable alerts when vehicles move past location markers.

With customer expectations driving the logistics industry, it is essential to adopt advanced technologies to stay relevant and competitive.