As Amazon announces the launch of its “parcel drone” Prime Air project, and Google pitches in with the concept of driverless cars and robots, the idea of unmanned machines wrestling for the future of parcel delivery is going to take the retail industry by storm.
This was the opinion expressed recently by the global courier service Parcel2Go, whose Marketing Executive Les Yates, says:
“What we’ve come to notice through our international connections is that with ever-changing trends, so the marketplace has had to make the relevant adaptations. We believe it’s time that such elite technology is now readily accessible and available for each and every customer, and look forward to such innovations improving the modern landscape.”
Consumer demand for instant gratification, fueled by on-demand technology such as mobile payments and sharing content, is pushing retailers to innovate new ways to dramatically shorten their delivery timescales, he explains.
Amazon’s Prime Air parcel delivery “drone”
Amazon recently revealed that its “next generation” R&D lab is working on a project called Prime Air, which will:
“… get packages into customers’ hands in 30 minutes or less using unmanned aerial vehicles.”
The company admits to the fact the project has a long way to go before it can fulfill this goal on a commercial basis, not just for technological reasons but also because of the need to satisfy FAA rules and regulations.
However, a video of a recent test flight gives an idea of what might be possible.Google investing in robots
Google is keeping more of a lid on its plans, but since Android founder and engineer Andy Rubin has moved to head up robotics R&D, market watchers are talking about driverless cars and humanoid robots, and putting those together with the company’s new venture into the parcel delivery business.
Google has recently made some big investments in robotics technology including the acquisition of Schaft, a Japanese company that is trying to make a humanoid robot.
However, some like the New York Times say Google is going to be focusing more on automating those parts of the supply chain that are currently not end-customer-facing – where huge opportunities await – stretching from the factory floor to the shipping companies.
Maybe one day we will be opening our front doors to take delivery from a robot, but for now it looks like parcel delivery will have to depend on humans, as Mr. Rubin told the paper:
“Like any moonshot, you have to think of time as a factor. We need enough runway and a 10-year vision.”
What these companies are engaging in for now is research and development as image-making, trying to gain a foothold in future customers’ imaginations.