248: The Rise Of Robotics In Last Mile Deliveries

24 Jul 2023 | Oliver Only Solo Shows, Podcast

Publish Date

24 July 2023

Your Host

Oliver Banks

Dive into the transformation of last-mile deliveries to consumers. This market has rapidly developed from traditional mail-order operating models to fully autonomous delivery bots in a short span of time. In this episode, explore how robotics are enhancing the efficiency and flexibility of home delivery services, considering benefits and potential limitations. From automated pods and self-driving cars navigating obstacles on the ground to drone deliveries descending from the skies, you’ll get to understand how these technologies are reshaping the retail landscape. Also discover how the role of customer habits, government legislation, and business viability play their part in determining the future of last-mile ecommerce deliveries.

Listen to this podcast episode to:

  • Understand how the advancements in autonomous technologies like robotic pods, self-driving cars, and drones are revolutionising home delivery propositions.
  • Consider which technology is right for you by learning about the benefits and challenges of each technology, and how they are adapted to suit different urban, suburban and rural environments.
  • Discover how customer habits, government legislation, and business considerations shape the implementation of these technologies.
  • Explore future possibilities in this area, from intelligent systems, innovative dynamic and convenience-based solutions to new robot types.


Examples of autonomous robotic pods

Starship Technologies are one of the most popular of the autonomous robotic pods. In the UK, they started to be used in Milton Keynes by Co-op and Tesco.

And Starship Technologies have been trialling different ways of deploying and dispatching these units. This is their Robovan concept which uses a van as a mobile dispatch point to extend the space for making local deliveries.

There are many different types of autonomous robotic delivery pods. This overview highlights some of the options including: Nuro, Kiwibot, FedEx, Amazon’s Scout, Robomart and more.

Examples of self-driving deliveries

Driverless cars are becoming more feasible and are in testing phases across many cities around the world.

In the UK, Asda are currently working with Wayve to offer self-driving deliveries. The person acts as a safety driver and also manages the customer touchpoint.

Earlier in March 2013, in China, WeRide are testing their Robovan concept, navigating through urban locations to deliver parcels to store associates.

JD.com are one of the most advanced tech retailers in the world. Back in 2021, they started testing smart vans for deliveries. They now have over 600 smart vans making deliveries across 30 Chinese cities.

Examples of drone deliveries

Back in 2013, Amazon founder and then CEO, Jeff Bezos, showed the world the future of drone-based deliveries. This feature was on CBS in December 2013.

Fast forward 10 years and this technology is being used in the real world – although perhaps not as glamorously as the promotional video suggested. On LinkedIn, Carl Boutet recently highlighted Dominique Lord’s experience of receiving an Amazon drone delivery. Key elements to look out for are: the noise, the height of the parcel drop and the product rolling across the garden afterwards.

Domino’s have been continually innovating the last mile delivery of pizza. Here is a drone delivery test from 2016 and look out for their other delivery innovations with freshly baked pizza!

Navigate disruption with Oliver Banks

Oliver and OB&Co help retailers accelerate their transformation initiatives whilst successfully navigating disruption. Discover how together, you can drive your retail transformation forward.

Connect with and message Oliver Banks on LinkedIn or by email at oliver.banks@obandco.uk.

Additional podcast episodes to listen to next

In episode 246, Oliver Banks explores The Rise Of Robotics In Warehouses and uncovers the different roles that robots can play and the different types of technology that can be deployed to boost throughput and efficiency.

246: The Rise Of Robotics In Warehouses - The Retail Transformation Show with Oliver Banks

Episode 247: The Rise Of Robotics In Transport explores how self driving technology is being applied to bulk deliveries to improve the global supply chains. In particular, discover how shipping and trucking is being developed by robotics.

247: The Rise Of Robotics In Transport - The Retail Transformation Show with Oliver Banks

There seems to be a good opportunity to develop self driving vehicles and smart lockers. Listen to episode 244: The Evolution of Smart Lockers with Clix’s Matt Cater to discover what’s possible with this technology.

244: The Evolution of Smart Lockers with Matt Cater from Clix - The Retail Transformation Show with Oliver Banks

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