Autonomous Last-Mile Delivery: The Supply Chain's Need of the Hour

Autonomous Last-Mile Delivery: The Supply Chain's Need of the Hour

Autonomous Robots and Drones can greatly ease the pressure on supply chains

The home quarantine situation across the world has stretched the supply chain with more demand that the service providers can fulfill. An efficient delivery model is imperative and can be highly beneficial in the future as well.

The need for an efficient delivery model is fueled by the necessity to implement social distancing and contactless delivery to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The use of autonomous robots and drones for delivering goods is an ideal solution. The deployment of autonomous modes in a supply chain ensures that deliveries can be made even in situations such as the current pandemic.

Research studies published in collaboration with JDX R&D Center of Automated Driving state that utilizing autonomous vehicles reduces the cost of delivery by 22%, which led to an approximately $110 million annual saving for

Challenges facing the adoption of autonomous delivery include a lack of accessible charging units as well as the need to establish clear guidelines.

The establishment and execution of guidelines would further ensure an increased acceptance and adoption of drones and robots in the supply chain ecosystem.

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The autonomous modes of transportation also guarantee high priority deliveries at hospitals without any delay.

For instance, during the beginning of the novel coronavirus,, Inc. or Jingdong logistics, a Beijing based e-commerce company, deployed autonomous shuttles and drones to deliver pharmaceutical and commercial goods to people across quarantine zones in the Hubei province.

Due to reduced traffic because of self-quarantine, autonomous robots deployed by JD were able to navigate streets freely, thus resulting in faster delivery.

As per the data shared by the company, it was revealed that approximately 50% to 70% of daily orders to hospitals were delivered by autonomous vehicles.

Zhen Robotics, which is supported by Alibaba, utilized its autonomous robot services to deliver groceries to various people in Beijing during the quarantine. Additionally, several other new players entered the market.

Several companies, including Amazon Scout, Kiwibot, and Nuro, with operations in the US, faced several challenges in commercializing their robot delivery model. The challenges were related to accessibility, crowded sidewalks, and regulations, among others.

Lastly, proper regulations must be formulated that are in sync with the data protection laws across countries. Precise guidelines must be formed and followed along with trial-runs to ensure that an effective delivery system is in place.

The guidelines must encompass the entire delivery system, including the space these robots and drones are likely to consume, especially in cities, considering the space crunch.

Read More: DHL Express to Deploy Drones for the Last Mile in Urban China

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Transport and Logistics ME