The newly launched Amazon Scout Robots is transforming how packages are delivered to customers and could lead to the extinction of the deliveryman.
Going by the recent trend, companies in the shipping industry may soon have to do away with the deliveryman. Amazon started field-testing its Amazon Scout in January 2019. The Scout robots have been delivering packages to customers in Snohomish County, Washington, showing a lot of promise in the future of robots in package delivery. The robot delivers packages to the customer, with a lid automatically lifting for the customer to retrieve the package. Following the success of the project, other companies like the United States Postal Services (USPS) have started to explore the uses of delivery robots in their operations.
Feasibility Test for Robotic and Autonomous Package Delivery
Currently, the Scout robots deliver packages only during weekday daylight hours. With the imminent likelihood that more companies are likely to follow the trend, one can only wonder the effect that this technological advancement will have on the role of the deliveryman. USPS's Office of the Inspector General released a report in 2018 indicating that more Americans are now embracing the idea of robotic delivery. The proponents of this technology argue that robots offer greater flexibility in package delivery and reduce the risk of injury to people tasked with package delivery. On the other hand, opponents argue that the use of robots could result in significant job loss.
The use of delivery robots is only economical in the long run. In a 2018 USPS's office of the Inspector General report on Autonomous Mobile Robots, it was revealed that using such robots for the last-mile mail deliver was both technologically and economically immature to be scalable in the short term. Apart from job loss and inability to scale for short-term deliveries, the robots are limited in several other ways. They cannot negotiate the variables involved in home deliveries, such as rain, steps, and customers who are not available when the robot is opening the lid. This can lead to further delay in package delivery that the company is trying to avoid in the first place.
The discussion about robotic delivery has been around for a while. Before launching Scout Robot, Amazon had explored the use of drones, with its Prime Air drone makings its first delivery in December 2016. While the drone provided the benefit of speed, the issue of safety was a concern. It is not clear how separation can be created between drones to prevent crashes that can damage property or injury people.
On a similar note, Amazon Scout is likely to encounter difficulties while negotiating sidewalks. However, the use of robots, drones, and automation is becoming inevitable in the shipping industry as more companies adopt these technologies. This means that many good and hardworking people working in delivery will lose their jobs.
Future of Robotic Package Delivery
Several other companies have already dived in this technological advancement. Starship technologies, which is a robotics firm has developed a fleet of autonomous robots to deliver pizza and coffee to college students in Virginia. The students simply request for the robot via an app and receive their package within the campus. With such developments being observed in a precedent manner, robots seem to be readily accepted by customers. This would mean a reduction in job demands for delivery workers.
Given the recent developments in autonomous package delivery, both UPS and USPS are likely to integrate newer shipping methods in their business model. While this may expedite the shipping process, it is important to understand the impact it will have on your shipping costs. finding a way to track of the shipping rates will enable you to budget better and know what to expect. InstantShip offers a free USPS shipping calculator that you can use to calculate the USPS shipping rates instantly. The walking robots could soon be delivering your next packages with the shipping labels created by InstantShip.