Self-driving vans set to change future of parcel deliveries


These days you can arrange delivery for almost anything. From sending specific items of food to receiving a brand new car, both consumers and businesses are taking advantage of the benefits of advanced delivery services in the modern world. Now, with the news that self-driving delivery vans are being trialled in the USA, there are many ways logistics companies such as TNT and more are innovating to meet growing delivery demands.

Driverless deliveries

The race is on in Silicon Valley as many start-ups are vying to engineer unmanned delivery vans with the intention of mass marketing them. Start-ups such as Nuro claim to have raised $93 million from venture capital firms to fund the development, with plans to run pilot tests with customers by the end of 2018.   

In San Francisco one technology company trialled a self-driving car to deliver groceries in January. However, due to current laws this required a backup driver to be onboard. Udelv, the company behind the initiative aims to have 1,500 of the vehicles on the roads by 2021. One of the most recent Black Mirror episodes showed the potential dangers of such technology, yet Pizza Hut and Toyota have also unveiled an electric self-driving concept. 

Drone drops

Flying drones have long been hailed as the future of deliveries and Amazon already has big plans for its Prime Air system. It intends to safely get packages to customers in under 30 minutes using these unmanned aerial vehicles, dropping parcels by parachute. There are still a lot of issues and challenges that need ironing out, but demonstrations and trials suggest it is closer to becoming a reality.

Drones are also playing a big part behind the scenes for deliveries. In warehouses for online retailers and e-commerce firms they are being flown around to scan packages stored high up, offering a quicker method than using ladders and forklift trucks. They are revolutionising inventory management, though at the cost of putting people out of work.

Parcel tracking

Parcel tracking has been available for many years now, providing transparency and accountability for users. It has developed from a simple tracking number you could ring up to enquire about a delivery to being able to monitor a parcel’s progress online in real-time.

Even this could be set to evolve thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT), which refers to the ability of machines and devices to interact with each other. Further advances may mean that you will be able to get really regular and accurate notifications as to where deliveries are as they pass by certain machines and devices on route.

This is all very exciting and could see parcel deliveries become even more efficient, though we will have to wait and see how the initial trials go. 

(A Retail Times’ collaborative article)