Statista reported that e-commerce sales and demands are on the rise every year, and in 2019, the global e-commerce sales are expected to grow by 21.5 percent. The retail industry is rapidly changing, and retailers are working tirelessly to find smarter ways to find a solution for the last mile. In 2018, Amazon captured 41 percent of the total U.S. retail market share with its Amazon Prime same-day and next-day delivery. Consumers are increasingly dependent on e-commerce for their shopping needs; faster deliveries aren’t an option anymore as faster delivery has become a necessity. For retailers and logistics to prosper in the market, faster delivery should be their priority.
A primary challenge in completing the final mile is urban traffic conditions; heavy urban traffic results in the delay of transferring goods. To counter the last mile problem, Amazon has launched an autonomous delivery robot called Amazon Scout. The robot is currently being tested around the headquarters of Amazon in Seattle. In coming weeks six Amazon Scouts will deliver goods to Amazon shoppers in Snohomish County in Washington during daylight hours. The robot is approximately the size of a hamper, and an electric battery powers it. Scout moves at a walking pace and has six wheels. Eventually, the robot will deliver the good autonomously, but now in initial stages, the robot is accompanied by an Amazon employee to ensure safety and efficiently navigate the robot around pedestrians, pets, and other obstacles. Amazon has been testing drone delivery technology from the past few years, but this robot is the first addition to ground-based automated delivery.
Starship Technologies is a robotic firm founded by Skype in 2014; the co-founders announced that the robots would deliver food at George Mason University in Maryland. Robots of Starship Technology have been in use from 2014, and the company has logged over 100,000 kilometers. The significant issues in automated delivery are about dealing with the unpredictability of the real world, potholes in streets, negative reactions from pedestrians, and vandalism. The robots can only be deployed in a highly planned environment full of tech-savvy customers. Autonomous delivery is expected to soon assist brick-and-mortar stores and chain restaurants via robot-as-a-service startups.