Ecommerce has seen astronomical growth in the past few years. With this, the logistics and courier market has been growing at a phenomenal pace. The courier, express, and parcel market is predicted to grow at a 8-10% CAGR, reaching a value of $400 billion by 2024, according to a report by Mordor Intelligence.
But delivery volume is not the only thing that has increased in recent times. The expectations of customers from deliveries are also rising. An increasing number of customers expect single day and even same day deliveries, according to a blog by Key Software Systems. Plus, the failure to make these fast deliveries on time can have serious consequences. In fact, almost 13% of customers say they will not order again from a store if the delivery is late, according to a survey by Oracle.
This means that last mile deliveries, the most complex and cost intensive component of the delivery mechanism, is under great stress. For easing this stress, automation of last mile deliveries is being used by many logistics companies. Here are some of the main automated technologies being considered:
Wheeled robots are among the simpler options. Unlike autonomous vehicles, they can operate on the sidewalks. This also means that they do not require understanding of a large number of traffic rules. Another advantage is that there are not many regulatory compulsions because of its slow speed. They can be used in college campuses and other areas where the delivery method is by bicycle or on foot.
Drone delivery is no longer a dream. Amazon has already launched its drone delivery service, called Prime Air. Drones can significantly reduce delivery time. Prime Air promises deliveries in 30 minutes or loss. This can generate a lot more impulse buys from customers. The main hinderance for drone delivery seems to be regulations. They are considered dangerous in certain areas. Plus, many consider them invasive to privacy.
Self-driving vehicles is another potential option for deliveries. In this, electrically powered on-road vans can be used to transport the packages. That’s not all. Autonomous robots are also being developed to take the packages from the vehicle to the doorstep. A great example of this is Digit, a 2-legged robot engineered by Agility Robotics. It can walk on uneven terrain, go up and down on stairs, and lift packages weighing up to 40 pounds.
Apart from these, multiple automated vehicles can be used together. Drones can be used along with automated on-road vans to improve their range. With the way technology is advancing, the possibilities are endless.