Delivery Robots will Transform Our Cities by 2027
The robotic revolution is surprisingly close.
I’m writing about the future in a number of Newsletter on Substack. I cannot continue to write however without community support. If you appreciate my articles please consider supporting. You can help me also by sharing this article.
AI Supremacy is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
When we think of smart cities in the future in 2022, we underestimate the role smart delivery robots will play in the years and decades ahead. Controlled environments like University campuses and hospitals are an example of how they will become more common.
Level 4 Autonomy Robots Are Already Here
Serve Robotics, the Postmates spin-off robot department under Uber's wing has introduced its next-generation delivery robots capable of operating without human intervention.
Before you know it, city sidewalks will also have an increasing number of delivery robots busy at work. While this sounds sci-fi, it’s actually what a lot of companies have been working on for years, in addition to the likes of drone delivery.
Man’s best friend won’t be dogs forever, the robots are coming.
Last year we know that Alibaba Group said it plans to deploy 1,000 robots across Chinese university campuses and local communities over the next year as it steps up efforts to deliver packages faster and more cheaply.
In Texas during the nursing shortage at the height of the omicron wave, delivery care robots are being used to alleviate the nursing staff shortage. Hospitals throughout the country are dealing with nurse burnout, high turnover rates, and staffing shortages in a variety of ways.
Other robot delivery vehicles have external airbags in case they hit a pedestrian. Every year there are significant advances in how drone delivery pilots take place and how the regulation is improving to make it happen.
Serve Robotics began rolling out its next generation of robots in December, 2021 and says it recently completed its first delivery at Level 4 autonomy. And it is not alone.
Robotic delivery is just one aspect of a wave of automation we can expect in the 2020s that transforms retail, logistics, warehouse operations, E-commerce, consumer on-demand economy, restaurants, cloud kitchens and so forth.
Perhaps on-demand super-apps have the biggest incentive to perfect robotic delivery autonomous systems.
Serve Robotics currently have L4 capabilities in some neighborhoods in Los Angeles, such as Hollywood, where Serve has been operating since 2018. In short, the robotic delivery robots are still in Alpha, but sooner or late those drones, robots and autonomous agents of society will go live and it will be a different world.
Meituan a food-delivery giant in China, launched its robot service in February 2020 when infections were high in Beijing, earlier than a planned end-year launch. China is likely a few years ahead the West in the robotic delivery revolution.
Robots will become more common in healthcare, educational campuses and a host of new use cases not commonly thought of. As computer vision and deep learning evolves, robots will start to become more independent and require less human maintenance.
Serve’s new robots are equipped with a range of active sensors, like ultrasonics and lidar sensors from Ouster, and passive sensors like cameras to help navigate busy sidewalks. It won’t be too many years before L5 autonomy is reached for some robotics with more straightforward missions. Drones will also become significantly smarter.
For Serve Robotics, the computations needed to produce those capabilities in real-time are powered by chip-maker Nvidia’s Jetson platform, which is designed specifically for robots and other autonomous machines.
It’s hard to estimate how big the total addressable market for consumer delivery robots will be but I think we are vastly underestimating it in 2022. The autonomous last mile delivery market is valued at USD 860 million in 2021 and is projected to reach USD 4,964 million by 2030, at a CAGR of 21.5%,
What this means eventually is our logistics system will become increasingly automated. Fleets of robots will work with self-driving trucks and automated warehouses. That sort of convergence of automated transportation will certainly usher in consumerism into the smart city and 4th industrial revolution proper.
Some winners of autonomous last mile delivery market are Starship Technologies (US), JD.com (China), Nuro (US), Amazon (US), Kiwi Campus (US), Zipline (US), United Parcel Service (US), Wing (US), Flirtey (SkyDrop) and Aerodyne Group (Malaysia).
In a WFH world we’re more likely to have a robot delivery us food from a Cloud Kitchen then we are to go to a restaurant with colleagues. The smart city will lead to more sophisticated smart home robots as well.
The self-driving era of automation means the way we use apps and in the on-demand consumer economy will feel quite different. We will be dealing with more AI agents and robots, and perhaps less people than generations before once did. A lot of warehouse workers, delivery workers and gig economy workers of today, won’t be needed in a few years time.
The smart city of tomorrow will be a semantic A.I. driven world of automation and convenience that will be actually quite different than the city of today.
If you think you know someone who might enjoy this article and this newsletter please share the article.
Thanks for reading!