What if making those tedious yet necessary weekend trips to the supermarket were no longer necessary? What if autonomous delivery bots could transport groceries or prescriptions right to your home? Recent headlines indicate we are inching closer to no longer having to imagine such scenarios.
Since the beginning of 2019, we've seen massive investments in this area.
- Amazon has announced it will begin field testing a six-wheeled, autonomous "Scout" delivery bot; invested $700 million in Rivian, an automaker developing an electric SUV and pickup; and, along with Sequoia Capital, invested $530 million in autonomous vehicle company Aurora.
- SoftBank invested nearly $1 billion in Nuro, a California startup, building robotic vehicles designed for grocery deliveries rather than robotaxis or long-haul trucking.
- FedEx announced SameDay Bot, a battery- powered autonomous bot that can steer around pedestrians and traffic using a combination of cameras and lidar sensors like those found in self-driving cars.
These headlines are just the beginning in what will be a revolution in the movement of goods brought upon by autonomous bots. In KPMG's "Autonomy Delivers" report, we anticipated this shift, one in which autonomous delivery vehicle miles traveled would skyrocket to 78 billion per year by 2040.
Whereas e-commerce has been a tremor, autonomous delivery vehicles represent an earthquake of a magnitude not seen before.
Fundamental changes to the automotive and transportation industries include markedly lower cost of delivery, more rapid delivery and fewer personal vehicles available for shopping as consumers reduce the number of vehicles they own.
These factors will result in a monumental change in consumer behavior and a global transformation for the automobile and transportation industries, including:
- An exploding market in the "islands of autonomy": Metropolitan markets with unique mixes of consumer living, working and travel patterns will drive requirements for locally tailored delivery services and for specialized autonomous delivery vehicles. On the ground and in the air, to service the delivery of goods at different response times, there will be a robust demand for small, single-package delivery vehicles to satisfy same-hour delivery demand as well as a growing market for vehicles that can hold multiple customer orders for efficient same-day or next-day delivery.
- New services and businesses to support delivery and manage these vehicles: Those new services will range from building delivery bots to routing, cleaning, charging and maintenance.
- A new infrastructure to enable the delivery of goods: This includes changes in sidewalks to accommodate bots, loading and unloading zones, spaces for delivery lockboxes, stations for storing vehicles and locations for cleaning and maintaining them.
Amazon, Nuro and FedEx are just the beginning. Autonomous delivery will be arriving at your doorstep in the not-so-distant future.