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Is Southeast Asia Logistics Autonomous Vehicles Ready?

Time to read: 7 minutes

How products are moved in the logistics and transportation sectors is changing significantly. Autonomous vehicles in logistics, such as self-driving trucks, cars, and drones, are gaining more traction as a potential solution to many of these sectors’ roadblocks. 

Part of the reason autonomous vehicles are popular options is that companies want to cut expenses and streamline supply chain processes. Autonomous cars have several advantages, such as lower running costs, added safety, and enhanced efficiency. 

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Southeast Asia’s (SEA) rapidly expanding economies and favorable macroeconomic factors are driving the region’s impressive expansion in the logistics industry. Population growth and the rise of the middle class are all key factors in the growth of local logistics. According to projections, the market size of this industry will reach US$55.7 billion by 2025, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.5% between 2018 and 2025.

The logistics sector is evolving in response to market needs by employing technology to address supply chain issues. This exciting new era of mobility offers cleaner air, more efficient travel, and a strong engine for economic growth. Singapore is pioneering autonomous transportation. Thailand and Indonesia are setting ambitious objectives for the adoption of electric vehicles. The region is embracing a tomorrow driven by autonomous vehicles in logistics. 

The Current State of Autonomous Vehicles in Logistics in the SEA Region

Mobility technology is incredibly popular around the world. The concept of mobility as a service (MaaS) is familiar. Modern examples include ride-sharing and driverless vehicles. Although some areas of the world now control most of the market, the MaaS industry in Southeast Asia is starting to become a disruptive force for many businesses. The future of mobility in the region is bright, with entrepreneurs in the area having access to ever more innovative technology and business models.

Vehicle-based passenger and cargo transportation is one centralized part of the MaaS industry. The early origins of the technology-enhanced mobility business in the region began with getting individuals from point A to point B. These days, a lot of startups are looking into global technologies that could be the next big thing in mobility. The most recent and promising projects in Southeast Asia are trying to meet the requirements of the populace and stay ahead of the curve.

Singapore: A Pioneer for Autonomous Vehicles

Singapore, a densely populated nation seven times larger than central Paris, quickly established a distinctive and cutting-edge approach to mobility and transportation. The city is known for its highly developed and effective public transportation system, which is a decades-long, carefully thought-out significant public investment.

Asia’s Lead In Next-Generation Mobility (

The Singapore Autonomous Vehicle Initiative (SAVI) is a symbolic initiative to be the first nation to widely use autonomous cars. Since 2016, the Boston company NuTonomy—which was later bought by the equipment maker Delphi for $400 million—has been conducting tests. These will progressively be expanded to cover the whole western side of the island, which has more than 1000 kilometers of roadways. One of the biggest public-private research projects on autonomous mobility, the Centre of Excellence for Testing & Research of AVs (CETRAN), was also started by the government. 

Five autonomous mobility businesses have already received funding from the government’s deep tech venture capital fund, SG Innovate.  Its positive impact is evident: according to KPMG’s Autonomous Vehicles Readiness Index (AVRI), Singapore is the top-ranked nation among 30 other countries.

Growth of Electric Vehicles

According to a study by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC), electric cars will be the foundation that enables autonomous driving. In addition, the cars will be linked, shared on demand, and updated continuously. As a result of these reforms, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) citizens have easier, more flexible, and accommodating transportation.

Governments in Southeast Asia are promoting the use of electric vehicles to minimize air pollution and fulfill climate change targets.

For instance, Thailand wants 1.2 million electric vehicles (EVs) to be on the roads by 2036. To achieve this objective, the nation is investing in the required infrastructure, such as battery production plants and charging stations.

By 2025, Indonesia hopes to have 2 million electric motorbikes on the roads. This is to lower emissions while also giving many citizens of the country access to a more accessible and reasonably priced form of transportation.

Malaysia is exploring the use of autonomous vehicles in logistics on a 5G-enabled highway. Autonomous cars are currently undergoing testing to demonstrate their potential for safe and effective real-world operation.

Challenges and Risks

Increasing road safety is one of the primary reasons for the widespread use of AVs. Whether autonomous vehicles are safer than vehicles driven by humans is still contestable.

The need to address the measurements used to define safety and quantify risks is one of the factors contributing to the ambiguity. For example, evaluating the road and driving environment would show their actual influence on the danger. This is a more important metric compared to measuring the total distance traveled by AVs. In a similar vein, it would be immoral to infer that autonomous vehicles (AVs) are safe even if the overall number of injuries decreased as a result of their use but the number of injured pedestrians increased (in contrast to traditional driving).

As manufacturers go up the automation ladder, they will still need to resolve safety-related concerns. The parameters that are employed to assess AV safety are vital. AV-gathered data is the source of these measures. While giving the industry precise location data, richer data and more specific features like location services might aid autonomous driving systems in becoming more aware of a vehicle’s surroundings. Improved location data will probably make autonomous vehicles (AVs) safer and more environmentally friendly than traditional cars.

Southeast Asian Technology Trends for Autonomous Vehicles in Logistics

The fast development of the logistics scene in Southeast Asia may be attributed to many factors. Consider the emergence of eCommerce, the importance of last-mile delivery, technological advancements, and sustainability initiatives. Businesses must embrace innovation, adapt to changing client needs, and address persistent challenges to successfully navigate this dynamic and evolving sector.

Light Detection and Ranging Systems (LiDAR)

LiDAR maps the surroundings and sends data to the vehicle’s processing system by measuring distances using automotive sensors, scanners, and lasers. As a result, it’s essential to autonomous driving, which lets drivers delegate driving duties to the artificial intelligence (AI) system in their vehicle and remove their hands from the wheel. According to McKinsey & Co., by 2035, the self-driving sector will generate between $300 billion and $400 billion in revenue.

Every nation in the ASEAN region is implementing the technology at varying paces. Singapore is ahead of other nations, but its limited space is a concern. Malaysia adopts similar measures, such as amending laws to guarantee the appropriate use of technology. Other nations are still testing, but less developed nations like Myanmar may struggle or fall behind the rest of the area.

Vehicle-to-Everything Technology (V2X)

Vehicle-to-Everything refers to the concept that the automobile industry’s newest models will be equipped with smart technology. This will allow vehicles to interact with the Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices and their surroundings, such as other motorized systems and integrated infrastructure. 

V2X Communication Market Market 2021 New Business (

V2X systems can detect variations in vehicle speeds, helping to avoid crashes. In addition, an autonomous vehicle for logistics can gather data from stop and traffic signals, saving energy expenses and helping drivers plan alternative routes for more efficient travel and delivery. V2X is an integral part of ensuring road safety for autonomous vehicles. IoT can allow the use of emergency braking to avert collisions, blind-spot identification, and other safety features. Due to its support of autonomous driving, fatigued drivers can make it to their destination safely, regardless of any roadblocks.

Innovative V2X solutions from several Southeast Asian software businesses, such as Govicle, are influencing the market. Govicle wants to be the industry leader and create the first car data exchange in the area. The startup began by digitizing parking and now has over 500,000 registered users. It evolved into a super app that offers a variety of services.

5G Network Expansion

In ASEAN, 5G technology development would guarantee quicker network connectivity and more dependability. As a result, vehicles and other internet-capable gadgets will be able to stay connected, contributing to the assurance of efficiency and safety when driving.

Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore are the primary countries in the area driving the adoption of digital technology. To support digitization in its member nations, ASEAN has also launched several projects. Accelerating inclusive digital transformation has been recognized as one of the five main approaches to strengthening society and the economy in the post-COVID-19 age. ASEAN has unveiled its plan to use the fourth industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0, to completely change the economies and societies of the area. The plan places a strong emphasis on 5G’s position as the primary facilitator of the digital infrastructure required for Industry 4.0.

By 2025, there will be more than 200 million 5G subscribers in ASEAN. 5G paves the way for technologies like edge computing, IoT, autonomous vehicles, smart cities, and artificial intelligence to advance further.

Southeast Asia’s logistics and transportation industry has a fascinating future. By utilizing technological integration, optimizing last-mile logistics, and applying sustainable practices, logistics companies in Southeast Asia may gain a competitive edge. Forward-thinking initiatives also help them position themselves for greater development. Stakeholders, including governments, company owners, and consumers, must collaborate to establish an environment that fosters innovation, infrastructure development, and sustainable logistics techniques. 

ZhenHub gives you complete control over your supply chain operations to make it compatible with autonomous vehicles in logistics. Receive real-time insights on your inventory. If you’re looking to expand into Southeast Asia, and the rest of the world, our global network of fulfillment centers is ready to help. Sign up for free at our website and get started with our digital logistics solutions. For more information regarding our software solutions, contact our fulfillment experts.

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