Less food waste with autonomous vehicles

Reflections from SXSW 2019

At SXSW 2019 there were no talks dedicated to sustainability only. Instead, sustainability was naturally integrated into most topics, such as that of autonomous vehicles in the food industry. The shorter the time from the farm to our dinner table, the less wasted food. That’s why mobility is part of the solution to a more sustainable food industry and healthier, more nutritious produce.

Gets food on the table quicker

Autonomous vehicles could help solve quite unexpected issues, such as food waste. For fresh goods that have an expiration date close in time, like some foods, the transportation time is crucial to the quality of the products. If the foods reached their destination faster, it could reduce the loss of quality, and we might also use less chemicals during production used to make them last longer.

From the mobility consumer market, we have learned that cars are parked as much as 95% of the time. This is why shared services can bring great value for both people, profit and planet. And for the logistics industry, the vehicles could be driving 24/7 if only that were possible. The main limitation here is that the driver needs to rest and eat. This is where autonomous vehicles come in.

The quicker the transport from farm to the end consumer, the fresher the food and, consequently, the less food go to waste. There is also the possibility that the amounts of chemicals to keep the food fresh can be reduced or eliminated.

A healthy triple bottom line

In EGGS, just as at SXWS, we see sustainability as an integral part of all our work. We always strive to have what we call a healthy triple bottom line in our projects. The idea of using mobility innovation in the food industry really inspires me, as it shows the use of a technology that has an impact beyond what we might first think of. When we talk about autonomous vehicles, the first that comes to mind might be cutting peoples jobs and losing control to machines. But there are great opportunities to create a positive impact on the triple bottom line here – we can save money, time and decrease both fuel waste as well as food waste. In the end, it is something that has a positive impact on both people, society and the planet.

The main limitation for truck logistics today is that drivers need to stop to rest. With autonomous vehicles, this problem could be eliminated and the transport made more efficient.

Beyond saving energy

That mobility is a part of solving the sustainability challenge is a common understanding. When we think of mobility and sustainability, the first thing that often comes to our minds is how we use energy. How to optimise the energy spent on carrying the passenger or the goods in comparison to the vehicle, is an important challenge. One solution can be having more passengers (or goods) in the vehicle, like car-sharing. Another could be using vehicles that use less energy to move themselves, so called micro-mobility. And of course, using more sustainable sources of energy, such as electricity.

Another area of sustainability is reducing the need for mobility in the first place, like, e.g. designing sustainable “self-sufficient” communities or digital and virtual collaboration spaces.

As designers, we always seek to solve problems for humans, but also for the higher purpose of saving our planet. I challenge all of us to always explore opportunities within technology like autonomous cars or blockchains, to see if it could contribute to sustainability. We should always look for how to make a positive impact, also outside of the obvious.

Sounds interesting?

Linda Vik

Have a chat with our Lead Business Designer
Linda Vik
+47 992 23 367

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