It’s fair to say that most of us have had some problems with parcel delivery. Whether the problem was the parcel arriving late or not arriving at all, these kinds of scenarios can be pretty stressful. The good news is that such things are expected to become a part of the past. Future does seem bright in the parcel delivery universe.
Sure, it’s impossible to predict the future, especially when technology is in question. Still, the fact is that a number of big-name logistics companies are planning for the future. And their vision of future is implementing autonomous vehicles into parcel delivery business. Actually, as of 2019, there are already many companies going into the final stages of testing of their parcel delivery bots.
Delivery Bots Today
You might not see them on the streets every day, but delivery robots are already pretty much up and running. In Europe, several prominent companies have started pilot programs for delivering goods using unmanned vehicles.
Domino’s Pizza, a global fast-food chain teamed up with a company called Starship Technologies to create a fleet of delivery bots that would deliver pizzas in cities around the Netherlands and Germany. Although the robots didn’t revolutionize the pizza-delivery industry right away, they did provide some useful insights into the implementation of this kind of technology.
It’s a similar case with other test-projects going on across the world. The delivery robots of today might not yet have what it takes to change the shipping industry as we know it, but they definitely have the potential to do so in the near future.
Delivery Bots in Near Future
Biggest optimists believe self-driving vehicles will become a common thing by the year 2020. Those who are a little bit more skeptical think we will have to wait a few more years before they become a common sight on our roads (and skies). Still, it seems that everyone agrees that autonomous vehicles are going to start their revolution sometimes during the 2020s.
The issue here is not only that it takes time for the modern tech to become so sophisticated it can replace certain old-fashioned technologies; it’s also because modern tech has a potential to make certain jobs obsolete. In this particular case, delivery bots could make the old-fashioned couriers not needed anymore.
It does seem like a legitimate worry, but according to the experts, we’re still far away from something like that happening. Delivery robots will require some real workforce in order to keep them going. At least in the beginning.
The delivery model that involves unmanned vehicles and parcel machines is eagerly expected to become a real thing not only by big delivery companies but also by buyers/sellers from different parts of the planet. This technology definitely has the potential to revolutionize the industry. In a good way, of course.
First of all, with delivery robots, there’s no room for human error. This means that such scenarios like lost or damaged parcels will be removed from the narrative. Another benefit this technology is expected to bring is a reduced price of shipping.
How Do These Robots Work?
There are dozens of different companies out there that are currently working on developing delivery robots, meaning that in a few years’ time, we’re gonna see them in all shapes and sizes. Still, one thing all of the delivery robots will have regardless of who made them is their delivery model.
As this technology is developed with user-friendliness in mind, the delivery model is expected to function in the following manner:
- Step 1 – The parcel sender requests a delivery bot on their address
- Step 2 – Once the robot arrives, the sender places the package inside the robot (alternatively, the item is picked up by a human employee who then takes care of packing and placing it inside the bot)
- Step 3 – The delivery robot then takes the parcel to the address of the recipient
- Step 4 – In order to be able to receive the parcel, the recipient has to use a QR code (or digital signature, or some other method to confirm their identity) on their smartphone
Obviously, such a delivery model is not going to be possible for long-distance deliveries. In fact, judging by the experience of Dominos’ Pizza delivery bots, their delivery range cannot be bigger than only a few miles. In order to increase the range, the parcel will have to make a few extra stops along the way which brings the question of their efficiency. An old-fashioned parcel delivery service is bound to do a faster job than a fleet of delivery bots, each of which has a range of only a couple of miles.
Another problem with this is that the delivery bots, regardless of how tiny they might be, could cause severe problems to the traffic. They’re meant to use GPS to find their way to the destination, avoiding traffic jams along the way. The problem is that it takes a lot of computing power, even for large and expensive unmanned vehicles to get around in busy traffic, especially when found on the same road with manned vehicles. In turn, this could increase the number of traffic jams, as well as make driving less safe.
For all these reasons, it’s reasonable to assume that these types of vehicles will be used primarily for low-traffic places, such as college campuses, shopping malls, public parks, and so on. Another possible use for delivery bots is dealing with parcel sorting at large ports, where large volumes of cargo are shipped from abroad on a regular basis.
When it comes to other cases of parcel delivery, it appears that delivery drones are going to take things in their hands, rather than wheeled-delivery robots. After all, flying parcels from one place to another is safer, quicker, and possibly even cheaper than doing it on the ground. And that’s why it’s not surprising that delivery drones are already a fairly common sight unlike their counterparts on the ground.