Is 2019 going to be the year robots take over the world?
Not really – but the scenario we’re describing is far closer than we all realize. A couple of years ago, Amazon began a pilot fulfillment method using a drone system to deliver packages to customers in test markets. Similarly, Kroger has explored options for automated ordering and delivery programs for customers.
The benefits to both programs are clear: keep costs low. Improving efficiency, reducing the risk of on-the-job injury or theft, and managing the internal costs of wages and benefits with the rising costs of operating a business has a multitude of other companies considering all options available.
Imagine ordering a pizza using a mobile app – which is already common – but then that pizza is made and placed into an autonomous vehicle (AV) and sent driverless to its delivery destination. Customers can use this same app to unlock the compartment for their order, and the transaction is complete.
Delivery methods, from pizza to Amazon’s retail website, are becoming faster and more high-tech. In an increased effort to thwart the dreaded porch pirate, Amazon explored Amazon Key, allowing delivery personnel to deliver packages inside homes or directly into personal vehicles, through a coded keypad. The ultimate goal is to secure delivered goods, but can autonomous vehicles – without drivers – manage the same effectiveness?
Will this be like the VCR vs. Betamax, where only one shall come out the victor? Or will this be a battle at all? Maybe the combined approach is what will ultimately work best for all involved? Technology is all about innovation, and new methods are sometimes simply a modified traditional method to keep up with the changing times.
Where Amazon is becoming the competition to beat, it’s widely recognized that Amazon is the model to follow – for both pricing AND shipping methods. Where Amazon experiments, their results show the most practical outcome considering all factors (speed, economy, security, etc.).
AV deliveries haven’t caught on everywhere yet, but is it entirely due to practicality? Driverless deliveries pose other challenges, like who gets sued if an AV hits a pedestrian or a manned vehicle? In the traditional model, it’s the at-fault driver, but without a driver would the responsible party be the manufacturer, the contracted company employing the vehicle, or another element entirely? The reality is AVs will not be taking over the highways this year so long as pedestrian and manned vehicles outnumber driverless AVs.
Speaking of manned vehicles, did you know the average age of a commercial over-the-road truck driver today is 55 years old? Given the innovation companies are experimenting with, will truck drivers be facing mass unemployment in the next decade – or will many simply “age out” of the system? As drivers retire, employers may opt to simply not replace drivers as new alternatives become more common.
The best news out of all of this? The primary party that will benefit from innovation is the consumer!
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