Driverless delivery for last-mile connectivity has started to gather steam over the past couple of years. With autonomous technologies moving out of nascent stages of development, delivery of goods has been recognized as a major application for this technology. This theme has been propelled further with the pandemic gripping the world, and leaving logistics and delivery systems stifled.
The shortage of personnel for delivery services, owing to pandemic-induced lockdowns and customer desires for contactless transactions, has led to a rapid increase in the adoption of driverless delivery services. The transformation also is the result of retailers needing to automate their delivery systems. According to the Deloitte Future of the Movement of Goods Survey1, 80% of companies surveyed are either currently investing in or planning to invest in technologies like autonomous trucks or delivery drones/droids. Similar numbers represent the participants looking to leverage IoT and sensor data to drive automation. Driverless technology users utilize autonomous deliveries for two major purposes:
While there has been significant progress in the adoption of this technology in the private sector, governments and authorities may not always keep pace with formulating legal frameworks to regulate the usage. Even mature markets like the United States and Europe, which have identified the key challenges posed by this technology, can consider doing more to create operating frameworks or regulations.
While driverless delivery technology has gathered momentum during the pandemic, it will easily outlast this period with both companies and consumers recognizing and, already, reaping benefits from it.
— Scott Rosenberger
(Global Transportation, Hospitality & Services sector leader)
The use of driverless-delivery technology has diversified from a logistics solution for individual companies to an “as-a-service” option for multiple end-users. The players entering this segment come from eclectic backgrounds, including traditional users like big box retailers to technology companies.
Urban warehousing: the key to unlocking the full potential of driverless delivery
Partnerships are key for operations
Starting with college campuses as test markets is proving to be highly beneficial
Food delivery: the major segment for driverless delivery
No company has reached large scale commercialization (which is likely to continue)
Regional insight and takeaway:
While some factors driving autonomous delivery are similar across regions, certain factors are unique to specific geographies.
Driverless delivery has been around long enough to suggest that it is more than just a technological blip on the supply-chain radar. With innovations involving data sensing and data mapping of geographical locations, this technology has the potential to become more precise and scalable. It is anticipated that the scope of the technology will continue to develop, with authorities recognizing and even adopting it for wider use.