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As futuristic as they might sound, delivery robots are here and they are flourishing. Since more than 60% of a merchant’s customers live within three miles of one of their stores, delivery robots are a great way for restaurants, retailers, pharmacies, and more to complete deliveries.
In 2018, the U.S. delivery robot market was worth $11.9 billion, and it’s predicted that it’ll be worth a whopping $34 billion by 2024. A big reason for that is online shopping: between 2016 and 2017, U.S. online retail sales jumped 16%. And we can’t forget robotic food and beverage delivery, which has already been adopted at university and corporate campuses across the world.
So, are delivery robots really that beneficial? And who's using them? Let’s take a look at some of today’s top delivery robots and the impact they're having.
Who is Using Delivery Robots?
- FedEx: FedEx recently announced that its autonomous home delivery robot, the FedEx SameDay Bot, is under development. The FedEx SameDay Bot is designed to operate all by itself, using sensors and artificial intelligence to make same-day and last-mile deliveries via optimal routes. Recently on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” the bot even successfully navigated sand, rocks, and water. The bot is being tested this summer in Memphis, and will make deliveries for AutoZone, Lowe’s, Pizza Hut, Target, Walgreens, and Walmart.
- Amazon: It probably comes as no surprise that this January, Amazon, one of the world's most innovative companies, unveiled its own tiny autonomic delivery device, Scout. The size of a small cooler and featuring six wheels, Scout currently delivers Amazon packages to a neighborhood in Washington. Amazon also recently patented a retrieval robot that would remain inside a consumer’s home and autonomously fetch deliveries from a nearby delivery truck.
- Postmates: Postmates delivers orders from more than 350,000 restaurants, retail shops, grocers, and more, and recently rolled out Serve, arguably the world's most adorable delivery robot. Serve can carry up to 50 pounds of product and can deliver items within a 30-mile radius, all on a single charge. The cute bot even features dynamic light-up eyes, which communicate when Serve is changing direction or performing specific tasks. Serve will first launch in the Los Angeles area, and is slated to hit other U.S. cities this year.
Benefits of Delivery Robots
- Fast: In this day and age, there is a true need for speed. More and more of today's consumers expect deliveries to reach their front door (or office desk) within the same day, or even hour. Traditionally, the last leg of the delivery is incredibly inefficient; as Henry Harris-Burland, an executive at delivery robot company Starship, said: “Think about vans stopping and starting 150 times outside of 150 houses in one neighborhood. It’s an incredibly large waste of time.” Delivery robots help speed up deliveries by increasing efficiency in the last couple of miles from a store to the delivery location – cruising at about 4 miles-per-hour, bots can deliver within 15 to 30 minutes.
- Space Efficient: Trucks, bicycles, and scooters typically complete the final leg of the delivery process, dangerously crowding city streets. In fact, a Mobility Lab and George Mason University study found that 73% of freight and delivery vehicles in Arlington, VA were parked in unauthorized areas, blocking things like bike lanes, fire hydrants, and crosswalks. By sticking to sidewalks, delivery robots help combat congestion and keep emergency paths clear.
- Money-Saving: On top of speeding up the store-to-home process, delivery robots can also save companies money – lots of it. According to a 2018 McKinsey & Company report, delivery robots could help reduce last-mile delivery costs by as much as 40%! Although delivery robots can cost a lot to manufacture, in the long run they could save companies billions.
Now on to the fun stuff … let’s see some delivery robots in action:
We’re excited to see what the future has in store for delivery robots!
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Heidi Orpilla is the Digital Content Specialist at Star Micronics where she creates and manages content for Star’s blog, social media, website, products, and more. Heidi has a passion for writing and has worked in the B2B marketing space for over five years. Prior to working at Star, Heidi worked at a large reseller for six years.