The last mile of a package delivery is the most difficult due to dynamic, uncertain environments both inside and outside of the vehicle. A delivery truck can start completely organized and packed with boxes. As packages are individually delivered, however, the neat stacks can slide or fall over as the vehicle moves. Outside of the vehicle, urban terrain varies based on both location and building type, e.g., delivering to a house with a porch versus an apartment complex that needs to be entered. The task is further complicated by the fact that unloading packages from a vehicle often specifies a different set of design criteria from dropping packages off at a desired location. As a result, combinations of robots with separate specialities are being explored, such as, manipulators on top of quadrupeds or manipulators cooperating with wheeled robots. These systems, though, come at a steep cost.
A Last mile robotic delivery project (LIMMS) has an analysis of robotic delivery. LIMMS criticizes legged robots systems. LIMMS says legged robots have historically had a higher cost of transport which reduces the number of deliveries performed before a required recharge. They tend to occupy large amounts of space that could be devoted to more packages.
LIMMS fills a niche between the general purpose and taskspecific robots. While it is suited mainly for manipulation tasks, it still remains adaptable for application on most other delivery tasks. The compact design allows multiple LIMMS to replace larger, complex systems.
Nextbigfuture believes fully functional humanoid Teslabots for delivery would be drop in replacements for human workers. Minor differences in wheeled robot efficiency would pale in significance to being able to be used in all human circumstances. Carrying loads over stairs and rough terrain so all houses and apartments can be handled is far more important.
Humanoid robots that can multiply the level of labor in factories would multiply factory production by hundreds of times. Humanoid robots for delivery with self driving cars would drive down the cost of supply chain logistics to 20% of current levels. This would put us onto the path of multiplying the equivalent of human labor by thousands or millions of times.
Current practical solutions usually only solve a subset of the actual problem. For example, Starship robot is a six wheeled delivery robot that requires couriers or businesses to place packages in its cargo bay and recipients to remove the package on arrival. The robot is only responsible for package transportation. Other wheeled robots handle even more specialized tasks, such as Hikrobots
which operate in warehouses and sort packages by moving the shelves they are stored in.
Agility Robotics has its Digit bipedal robot. In 2019, they envisioned working with Ford on last mile delivery.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.