What Is the Future of Autonomous Delivery?

Autonomous delivery

Technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), computer vision (CV), and light detection and ranging (lidar) are evolving and improving autonomous machines’ capabilities. Major tech companies worldwide are experimenting with advanced technologies to pursue the goal of building an autonomous future.

What does the future look like for the autonomous delivery market? What key players are making the biggest impact? Continue reading to learn more about the development of autonomous delivery technologies and how it impacts the retail sector.

Growth in the Market

Within the decade, it’s expected that the logistics and shipping industries will undergo a massive technological transformation as companies prioritize autonomous delivery.

Delivery services have always played a vital role in the business world, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. People across the globe use delivery services to order food from restaurants, medications from pharmacies, essential goods from grocery stores, and more.

It’s suggested that the global pandemic accelerated the push and increased the demand for autonomous delivery services. According to a Research and Markets report, the global autonomous last-mile delivery market will reach £49.46 billion ($61.81 billion) by 2027 with a 27.7% CAGR.

Some major players in the autonomous delivery market include:

  • Starship Technologies
  • Amazon
  • Nuro
  • Einride
  • Eliport
  • TeleRetail

Plenty of other companies are active in the autonomous delivery space, leading to rapid growth in the industry. Autonomous delivery technologies are expected to take over last-mile delivery routes to bring products right to customers’ doorsteps.

For example, Amazon’s Scout, a six-wheeled autonomous delivery robot (ADR), is already being tested across various parts of the United States. Another company on the list, Starship Technologies, announced that the U.K. is the first country to host trials for its self-driving delivery robots. The tests start in Greenwich, London, and illustrate the U.K. government’s commitment to bringing ADRs to the market.

Popular British grocer Ocado recently invested £10 million ($13.6 million) in tech startup Wayve to work on making autonomous grocery deliveries a reality.

How Autonomous Delivery Will Impact U.K. Retailers

It would be challenging for the U.K. retail sector to ignore the fact that ADRs may be commonplace in their operations.

For example, retailers will likely have to adopt modern telecommunications devices to improve communication between third-party vendors completing these deliveries. Telecom companies, automakers, tech giants, and urban planners would all play integral roles in creating a truly autonomous delivery environment in the future.

According to a report from ParcelHero, more than half of Brits believe that same-day deliveries are important when shopping online and 62% expect next-day delivery options. The good news for the retail sector? Some 64% of U.K. shoppers said they’d be willing to pay for same-day delivery service and 61% said they would wait longer if deliveries were greener or more sustainable.

This significant transformation in U.K. consumer expectations may prove difficult for small retailers lacking resources and distribution centres across the country. The global supply chain was negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, driver shortages, and other disruptions, forcing retailers to bolster their ecommerce presence to stay afloat.

Retailers should expect shifts in trends when it comes to delivery services. Tech company StreetDrone says driverless delivery vans could even operate on U.K. streets by next year. Trials are expected to run with the Oxford City Council.

U.K. retailers will have to adapt to this tech-driven autonomous delivery trend to stay competitive and meet the modern consumer’s delivery expectations.

Expect an Autonomous Future in Delivery Services

Consumers are ordering more and more products online, from essential goods to electronics and everything in between. Things move fast in the shipping, logistics, and delivery industries, which requires retailers to be agile, flexible, and willing to work with third parties.

While ADRs are still in their early stages, it’ll be fascinating to see how they impact the U.K. retail sector and other industries worldwide.

Credit: Devin Partida is a retail writer and blogger. You can read more posts from Devin at ReHack.com, where she is the Editor-in-Chief.