COVID-19 is increasingly acting as a catalyst for society to explore ways of functioning without physical movement. Technology is allowing people to talk without meeting, and permitting deliveries without drivers.
Virtual communication tools are being used to work around social distancing, self-isolation, suspension of flights, and lockdowns. Remote communication technology is not only being used for work purposes but also to allow education to continue during school closures and for people to remain socially connected through video calls.
We think more advanced remote communications using virtual reality will also be catalysed by the coronavirus response, replacing the value in physical transportation for work and play, in many instances.
But despite advances in remote communication, people still need essentials like food and medication, and non-essential consumer goods. COVID-19 has thus driven demand for e-commerce physical delivery networks from online supermarket deliveries and internet retailers.
Deliveries still bring infection risks to otherwise isolated customers and to couriers, however. Autonomous vehicles offer a ‘touchless’ solution. And such vehicles can transport people as well as deliver physical goods.
We think this trend will continue after the current crisis has eased, but city streets vacated because of the virus offer ideal testing conditions. Autonomous vehicles can disrupt society, industry and the economy but testing requires considerable road-time.
Mainland China has already seen increased activity with one Beijing-based urban robo-delivery-trucks company seeing a surge in orders and using routes in locked-down areas to distribute disinfection services and deliver food to health workers.
First published 26 March 2020.Would you like to find out more? Click here to read the full report (you must be a subscriber to HSBC Global Research).
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The following analyst(s), economist(s), or strategist(s) who is(are) primarily responsible for this report, including any analyst(s) whose name(s) appear(s) as author of an individual section or sections of the report and any analyst(s) named as the covering analyst(s) of a subsidiary company in a sum-of-the-parts valuation certifies(y) that the opinion(s) on the subject security(ies) or issuer(s), any views or forecasts expressed in the section(s) of which such individual(s) is(are) named as author(s), and any other views or forecasts expressed herein, including any views expressed on the back page of the research report, accurately reflect their personal view(s) and that no part of their compensation was, is or will be directly or indirectly related to the specific recommendation(s) or views contained in this research report: Davey Jose
Equities: Stock ratings and basis for financial analysis
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