It’s R2-D2 … it’s a smart car, it’s a delivery robot!
It’s no secret that the “last mile” on-demand package delivery is high-maintenance, labor-intensive and, for now, mostly unprofitable. Delivery robots, invented just a few years ago (just like out of a star wars movie), are rapidly becoming a part of everyday life. A delivery robot carries cargo from a source to its final destination. The robot has the ability to go outside and deliver its packages to customers to a destination of their choice varying between their homes or workplaces within a 3 mile range. These bots can also travel through hallways, elevators and stay within a building. A $2000-$10000 delivery robot is a fraction of the costs for a delivery person’s salary and would allow operators to offer free delivery.
The demand for faster deliveries is intensifying by the minute, hence one of the few explanations behind the significant increase in delivery robots. These robots are packed with sensors, including cameras with machine vision capabilities, radar and ultrasonic sensors that detect solid objects like curbs and walls. Starship, a particular company that deployed its first delivery robot just four years ago, has been operating a fleet of over a thousand bots in several locations mapped across the globe. Robot’s such as Starships, deliver goods from supermarkets, grocery stores, cosmetic stores and restaurants and companies such as Amazon, the retail giant we’re all familiar with, is also working on a way to deliver its inventory using robots. The company has spent several years understanding drone deliveries, and now its Scout vehicle, a delivery robot, is roaming the streets. That being said, while these short range delivery robots are being developed, other elements of the delivery and logistics industry are concerned with longer distance domestic and international delivery.
One may ask ‘what could go wrong?’, well actually quite a lot it turns out. So far, pilot program robots that have been placed on universities and industry campuses have already been found stuck in snow mounds and bushes requiring bystanders to pull them back to the sidewalk, or needing other small adjustments to send the bots back on their route. It’s also worth mentioning that apart from technical malfunctions, when discussing all things robotic, one can’t ignore the potential impact on human jobs too, and this is often met by resistance from labor unions.
In spite of the growing popularity of delivery robots, specifically over the last two years, a recent study shows that the adoption of delivery robots may not be as effective when it comes to employment, energy consumption, emissions, and parking utilization when service areas are located far from the origin. In addition, the reduction of on-road travel when using bots, comes at the expense of delivery travel on sidewalks which creates potential pedestrian safety and sidewalk congestion issues. In conclusion, only time will tell how these robots will fair in the long term, and luckily enough, we intend to stick around at Lazzy, monitor the evolution of robots closely, and keep you all updated in our blogs at https://www.lazzy.com/blog So check back in soon!