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Autonomous Delivery: The Future of Last Mile

Feb 15, 2022

4 min read

No drivers. No passengers. Just faster delivery. Yep, autonomous delivery is all about robots.

Last mile delivery requires constant versatility, innovation, and advancement – making autonomous delivery and automated vehicles the next stepping stone for shippers. As eCommerce shoots to take over the majority of the market and residential areas become more densely populated, delivery options have to be faster, more efficient, and cheaper. Way cheaper.

 

What is autonomous delivery? 

Autonomous vehicles are driverless vehicles that deliver goods from a retailer or service provider to a customer’s location without human intervention. Drones are a type of autonomous delivery that complete deliveries faster than carrier ground options, and operate through artificial intelligence.

It might sound bizarre to think that in the future, autonomous vehicles and delivery drones will be all around us, but we’re not too far off from that reality. And it makes sense that most logistics and shipping companies are biting at the bit to enhance their supply chain with autonomous delivery.

Why wouldn’t you? Last mile delivery accounts for 50% of your overall parcel spend (and sometimes more for certain businesses), making it crucial to find savings wherever possible.

But how does it work?

Autonomous delivery robots are wheeled vehicles that can navigate to a customer’s location with a GPS navigation service, sensors, 360-degree camera vision, and more to complete the delivery. Vendors provide an app that the customers can access to monitor the location of the delivery robot and unlock any secure compartments holding their purchase.

These robots use artificial intelligence to compute the fastest delivery route with the shortest distance while using satellite-grade GPS navigation. And while they are typically fully autonomous, they can be assisted when human operators are necessary.

 

What does automated last mile delivery mean for parcel shippers? 

When over 50% of your shipping spend is going to one sector of your supply chain, you can’t afford to miss out on any opportunity to reduce costs. Especially when most deliveries only contain one or two items, and they’re delivered to densely populated areas or met with traffic – further adding to your carbon footprint.

Autonomous vehicles offer parcel shippers an opportunity:

  • To meet their customer’s expectations
  • Reduce their last mile delivery expenses
  • And deliver MORE packages while reducing costs. In fact, studies have shown that these autonomous delivery robots can deliver up to 500 packages per day!

In the USA alone, transportation accounts for 28% of total carbon emissions – delivery vehicles and heavy-duty trucks making up ¼ of that percentage.

Making another significant benefit to autonomous delivery is the sustainability of its operations. These robots make deliveries in fractions of the time, and they are way more environmentally friendly than petrol and gas vehicles.

Research by the Smithsonian said that anywhere between 23% to 54% of carbon emissions could be reduced by using electric autonomous delivery vehicles. And small drones were found more efficient than any truck or van (even electric vehicles!).

 

The future of shipping is an autonomous deliver

Big names like Amazon, UPS, Alibaba, and even Postmates are already making moves in the autonomous delivery market. Alibaba even recently celebrated their one-millionth delivery showing that not only is this a realistic and sustainable last mile delivery trend, it’s the future of parcel delivery as we know it.

The solution that autonomous delivery brings to shippers solves some of the toughest logistics challenges pressing the supply chain. High costs of last mile, carbon footprint reduction, navigating dense areas and completing deliveries on time.

 

Best options for autonomous delivery

Drones, robots, and autonomous vehicles – oh my! Which option is best for your shipping or eCommerce needs? Where do you even start?

We’ve got you covered. Check out these leading companies within the autonomous delivery industry ready to service your last mile needs:

Video or podcasts more your thing? No matter how you digest new information – you don’t want to miss this!

And speaking of last mile…you can leverage Sifted’s network optimization tool to understand the environmental impact of a new distribution center, or how changing your carrier mix can reduce surcharges and extra spend. Try a free demo today! 

Topics: Artificial Intelligence, Autonomous Delivery, Carrier Optimization, Distribution Network
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