How technology will change parcel delivery
The rise of the internet has made our society increasingly reliant on online industry, retail, and parcel delivery as a sector of our economy. It’s estimated that by 2023, 22% of all retail transactions around the world will take place online making the postal and delivery industry - which has always had a vital role in spreading good, information, and messages - more important to our lives than ever. While online services have replaced many traditional postal services - with emails taking over from letters and direct debit taking over from bills - online retail is stepping into to provide a renewed and important purpose.
Given all of this, the delivery industry has been keen to look at the ways in which new technologies that are currently in development can revolutionise the way they operate. And so the delivery industry stands on the precipice of a revolution, that may speed up postage, bring down costs, and benefit consumers and businesses. But some of the proposed changes may also cost drivers and workers their jobs, representing the trend of new technology giving with one hand while taking with the other.
Contrary to what you may imagine, the delivery itself is actually only a small part of the whole process that packages go through and is referred to within the industry as “the last mile” before a good reaches the consumer. And the last mile looks like it may become high tech with one technology a hot topic of conversation within industry circles and beyond. A proposal to use drones to deliver packages to people’s doors has caught on and captured a lot of attention.
Drones are unmanned, remote controlled flying machines, that are capable of carrying an attachment such as a camera, or in the case of delivery, a claw, or other carrying device, to transport packages. Amazon has already begun piloting the everyday use of drones for delivery. US company Walmart is planning on going a step further, submitting the patent paperwork for an epic-scaled flying warehouse, which would be carried by a huge drone, and would be manned by smaller drones, that would fly out to deliver packages.
Walmart is not the only company with a bold vision for the use of drones, however. Mercedes Benz has a different, even more ambitions, plan for future deliveries. They have produced designs for what they have dubbed the “vision van.” This would be an electric van consisting of a human driver and a pair of drones to be stored on top of the vehicle. In theory the driver will get out of the vehicle and drop off a parcel while the drones deliver an additional two, dramatically speeding up the route.
The van, the drones, and the cargo will all be cloud connected, allowing packages to be tracked by the recipient and the driver, allow them to get up-to-the-minute news as to where the package is, and an estimated time of delivery. This will allow for even more efficient delivery, via a rolling system, rather than from a central location, and still involves the use of a human driver.