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The Delivery Robots are Coming and they Mean (Big) Business

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Guest Post


Online supermarket, Ocado have recently tested a driverless delivery vehicle in the streets of London and there are a number of other UK companies who are trialing unmanned delivery methods in what could be seen as a new era for the courier and parcel delivery sector.

As we see though, the future isn’t completely automated.

The Ocado vehicle, that looks a little like a mini milk float, completed 3km circuits of an area in south-east London, in order to test its safety and reliability.

Speaking to the BBC, Graeme Smith, the chief executive of Oxbotica, the company who have developed the vehicle said, “We have chosen it to work specifically in this type of environment, where bigger vehicles are not allowed,” and went on to predict that “Over the next two or three years, you should expect to see a lot more vehicles on the road from car companies, from delivery companies, from shuttle companies – we’re very much at the start of this innovation.”

This sort of new technology and new thinking is part of a much wider revolution in the way courier and delivery companies are looking to meet both the increased demands for their services and the challenges posed by environmental issues.

Drones, robots and driverless vehicles may become commonplace over the next decade as companies, such as small business courier service TNT, adopt this approach in a push towards an all-electric, driverless future.

This is a sector that has experienced massive growth over the last twenty years and has made good use of new technology every step of the way. Integration of GPS and automated picking machines are among the effective strategies that have been put into place.

It is not just cutting-edge technology, however, that are being used in the development of the sector. There are several companies that are looking to re-introduce bicycles for some deliveries. The rationale behind this is that “last mile” deliveries can be done effectively and efficiently using pedal power alone, particularly in places like Cambridge and other bicycle-friendly towns and cities.

Do you know the countries which have the greatest number of electric vehicles in the world? Read here to find out.

The future is inescapable, however, and many see it as only a matter of time before electric drones and driverless vehicles are the norm. In California, for example, Amazon is making giant leaps with drone deliveries – Amazon Prime Air has already completed trials where it has delivered items to real customers and has plans for a service that can drop off parcels in 30 minutes or less in some U.S. states.

Millions of dollars have been invested in drone technology and services in the U.S. and the investments are beginning to come to fruition. Zipline, an American robotics company based in San Francisco, has begun operations in Rwanda, Africa. The company is using drones to deliver much needed medical supplies.

African countries like Rwanda and Tanzania, Zipline plans to begin operations there in 2018, are seen as a great testing ground for this type of new technology. The reason for this is that the political landscape there enables regulations to be made or changed quickly to allow the use of the drones.

Companies like Zipline who are trailblazing their way across Africa will gather valuable experience from the venture. The experience can be used to lead and develop similar services back home in the U.S. and, no doubt, in the UK.

About the Author: Andre Jackson is a freelance writer working in the property market. You can reach him on



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