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Robot deliveries roll out in Milton Keynes’ centre

A new report also shows that 20 per cent of parcels globally could be delivered by drones, robots or AVs by 2030. Further, automated delivery technology could play a part in the coronavirus pandemic response.

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City centre residents and workers in Milton Keynes can now order food and drinks from selected brands and have it delivered to their door by a robot vehicle.

 

Starship has spent the past two years running the robots in other areas of Milton Keynes but this is the first time that robot delivery will be available in the centre.

 

Since April 2018, Starship claims it has made more than 100,000 deliveries across Milton Keynes, with some residents making up to 200 orders per year for goods such as groceries and takeaways. The vehicles feature GPS tracking, cameras and ultrasonic sensors. The delivery service costs around £1.

 

Andrew Curtis of Starship said: "This new expansion from Starship will help ease congestion in the centre of town by giving people the option of electrically powered robot delivery, where before they would potentially rely on delivery services that use cars and other environmentally unfriendly modes of transport. Both residents within the centre of town and workers will be able to order food at the touch of a button."

"The robots have become an iconic sight in the town and everyone’s excited at the prospect of them delivering in the town centre."

The mayor of Milton Keynes, councillor Sam Crooks, said: “The robots have become an iconic sight in the town and everyone’s excited at the prospect of them delivering in the town centre.

 

“We’re living in an era where we are more conscious about the individual effect we’re having on the environment, and the centre of Milton Keynes can get very congested. Hopefully, this new service will ease congestion in the centre and make it that bit more environmentally friendly, whilst giving workers the opportunity to experience robot delivery in a town on the front line of new technological advancements.”

 

Automated delivery technology could also play a role in responding to the global coronavirus pandemic. Several of China’s e-commerce giants have deployed delivery robots amid the outbreak, for example, and they have been used in hospitals.

 

Rise in automated deliveries

 

Globally, automated last-mile deliveries are expected to generate $48.4bn in revenue by 2030, accounting for 20 per cent of all parcel deliveries, according to a new report from Lux Research.

 

Automated last-mile delivery technologies fall into four key categories: drones, legged robots, wheeled robots and autonomous vehicles. Of these, autonomous vehicles paired with drones show the most promise, with Lux Research expecting them to deliver more than 20 billion parcels a year by 2030.

 

The rise in e-commerce is fuelling rapid growth in parcel delivery volumes and Lux’s Automating the Last Mile report forecasts that the market for parcel delivery will grow from a total of 107 billion parcels delivered in 2019, generating $350bn in revenue, to 289 billion parcel deliveries in 2030, generating $665bn.

 

Demand for fast delivery is driving companies to explore using automated delivery technologies to cover the last leg of the delivery journey, the report finds.


“Most of this e-commerce growth is expected to come from Asia because China and India still have a relatively low amount of parcel deliveries per capita,” said Chris Robinson, senior analyst, Lux Research.

Automated last-mile delivery technologies fall into four key categories: drones, legged robots, wheeled robots and autonomous vehicles.

Drones are currently limited to a small delivery radius, but this range can be extended by deploying them from a moving autonomous vehicle. Drone deliveries are likely to be limited to uncongested rural areas, according to Lux, as these locations have the lowest regulatory barriers to aviation.

 

Wheeled robots are expected to account for 1.5 billion deliveries annually by 2030.


Robot-as-a-service

 

“Robot-as-a-service business models are emerging in start-ups developing last-mile automated delivery technologies,” added Josh Kern, analyst at Lux Research. “Large companies that can invest in and develop their own technologies are not expected to use these services, but logistics companies and retailers with no experience in robotics likely will.”

 

A January World Economic Forum report forecast that emissions from last-mile deliveries will rise by more than 30 per cent in 10 years – up to 25 million tonnes per year. It found that demand for urban last-mile delivery will grow 78 per cent by 2030, leading to a 36 per cent rise in delivery vehicles in inner cities.

 

Surveys show the issue is also on customer radars. According to research by the International Post Corporation, nearly half (48 per cent) of consumers are in favour of their deliveries being carbon-neutral.

 

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