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Delivery Robots: The Future of E-commerce

Internet retailers are always looking for new ways to enhance the customer experience, reduce delivery times, and simplify the ordering process. There are some radical new e-commerce technologies that have been in the news, such as flying drones, that are soon to become the norm in the online retail world.

Flying Drones

Over the next decade, drone delivery is expected to become widely available via major e-commerce retail websites. Drones can currently carry up to five pounds and travel up to 15 miles. They cruise at an average of 400 feet, flying at about 60 miles per hour. Recent advancements also include a doorstep delivery drone, developed by the U.S. startup company, Flirty. Airports specifically designed for drones (also called "droneports") are currently being built by major companies in Europe and the United States.

The main barrier to the proliferation of this technology relates to airspace governance and the lack of regulations in many parts of the world. Once these obstacles have been overcome, drone delivery will revolutionise e-commerce by making delivery times much faster. Same-day delivery will become the norm, and in some cases deliveries will be made within an hour of purchase.

Ground Droids

Droids are a new type of unmanned ground delivery vehicle that travel on sidewalks, typically with 6 small wheels. These robots are particularly useful for traveling the final mile of delivery to the customer's doorstep. Current models can carry up to 20 pounds and travel 4 to 8 miles per hour.

Delivery droids have not been used in the U.S., but several companies in southern states and on the west coast plan to begin testing. Outside the U.S., they have been used in hotels for room deliveries, and in Australia, Domino's Pizza has created a robot to reduce delivery time and avoid traffic.

Retailers and fulfillment companies are eager to utilize droids because they will make deliveries less expensive and speed up the last leg of the trip. Also, environmentalists are in favor of them because they use very little energy, even less than a single light bulb in some cases, and they have no vehicle emissions.

With these new air and ground robot technologies in development, both retailers and customers are soon to see radical changes in the experience of buying and selling online. Same-day and same-hour delivery will have a major impact on business and buying patterns, and the increased efficiency of electric-powered robots will bring greater profits for retailers and potentially lower prices for shoppers.

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