Globally, the number of cases has increased by 24.76% since March 2021. Although the mortality rate of COVID-19 is claimed to be approximately 2% but, watching its swift spread, the whole world is now under extreme fear and chaos. As many governments have implemented country-wide or state-wide lockdowns, many people face problems related to sourcing their daily essentials and groceries from various shops and supermarkets. Due to this there is a need for a seamless supply of essential medicines and health centers, which is being obstructed due to the lockdowns. The need of the hour amid pandemic is an efficient deliver model for essential goods while ensuring that people maintain social distance and contactless deliveries to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. These conditions have led to the utilization of autonomous robots and drones for delivering goods to people.
Autonomous modes of delivery ensure that people can receive their orders even during the ongoing pandemic without risking the lives of the delivery personnel. These vehicles also ensure that high-priority deliveries at hospitals are done instantly, without the delays caused due to the limited availability of delivery personnel.
Ways how autonomous last mile delivery can be strengthened
- Strengthening Supply Chain and Warehouses: It is crucial for companies to set up multiple efficient warehouses, along with a strong supply chain to ensure that the delivery being done through autonomous modes is effective and reliable.
- Industry-Wide Collaborations: For autonomous delivery robot and drone manufacturers, it is crucial to enhance their collaborations and partnerships with e-commerce companies and retailers, to ensure that their products can be part of various pilot projects in multiple cities and can conduct trials for package deliveries. The feedback can enable the manufacturing companies to further enhance their products and develop them in accordance with on-ground situations.
- Enhancing technology: Additional enhancement of delivery robots and drone technology is imperative to develop a strong business in the last mile delivery segment.
- Forming Uniform Regulations: Various stakeholders in the e-commerce and delivery ecosystem must come together in advancing formation of regulations for such autonomous robots to ensure that complex and ambiguous areas of law such as liability of accidents, thefts, and quality of products, among others, are dealt with properly. Regulations would also have to be formulated for upholding customer data protection laws in various countries.
- Increased Investment: Investment and funding in autonomous last mile delivery robots have been relatively low when compared to other emerging technology segments. Key stakeholders in the ecosystem such as retail chains, e-commerce giants, courier, express, and parcel (CEP) companies, technology companies, venture funding firms, and governments, among others, need to understand the importance of the contact-less last mile delivery services that the autonomous robots and drones can efficiently provide, especially in pandemic-related situations such as COVID-19.
- Meeting Customer Expectations: On-demand delivery has been a key point which various courier, express, and parcel (CEP) companies have been trying to execute through with increased efficiency and decreased cost of logistics. Instant delivery modes such as same day delivery and one-hour delivery, among others, are the need of the hour for the customers. If the delivery robots can be utilized by the e-commerce and CEP companies in such a way to meet the growing customer expectations, people would be inclined toward choosing autonomous delivery modes in the future.