What lengths will you go to in order to speed up your delivery service?
With all the buzz lately about automation in delivery service, we thought we would take a look at three futuristic tools currently being tested for delivery—not only by high-tech developers, but also by restaurant companies.
Drone Delivery: Breaking it Down
As we talked about in a post last year, drones are still a long way from regular use for delivery, but that doesn’t stop them from being fascinating. Flirty and Domino's New Zealand made headlines last summer when they delivered the first pizza by drone. From the videos and images, the pizza was in perfect condition on arrival.
Flytrex in Iceland is tackling a smaller portion of the delivery problem with drones. Take-out food from the delivery service AHA is flown by drone from the restaurant to specific landing sites within Reykjavik. Drivers pick up the orders from these central sites and complete the deliveries. This method allows them to station drivers on the other side of a bay or other obstacle. They can then quickly deliver without having to drive around the obstacle each time.
Self-Driving Cars: Removing Drivers from the Equation
Domino’s Pizza experimented with driver-less delivery earlier this summer, partnering with Ford to use a small fleet of self-driving Ford Fusions to deliver pizzas around Ann Arbor, Michigan. Customers were directed to enter a code on the side of the vehicle and retrieve their pizzas from a heated compartment through the back window. The goal of the experiment was to study how consumers interacted with the autonomous vehicles, but expect to wait a while to hear their results.
While we may view robot delivery as something out of The Jetsons, the idea was first tested as early as twenty years ago. There are still many logistical problems the industry has yet to solve, but many companies and organizations are working to solve them.
Starship Technology, an Estonian start-up, has partnered with Mercedes to introduce the Robovan. The Robovan is a Mercedes van customized to carry delivery robots to a neighborhood. They are then unloaded and perform deliveries within a 2-mile radius of the van. The robots drive on sidewalks to the houses, where customers can unlock them with a code to receive their parcel.
While the Robovan isn’t designed for food take-out, and would not be ideal for keeping deliveries hot or fresh, Domino's Australia is testing its own concept robot. With a special compartment designed to keep orders hot (or cold), DRU also travels on sidewalks, and navigates autonomously.
Similarly, Jack in the Box, in a partnership with DoorDash and Marble, has begun testing deliveries by robot in the San Francisco area.
Earlier this year Virginia passed legislation legalizing robot delivery, and permitting autonomous robots on sidewalks and crosswalks within the state. The state allows municipalities to set speed limits, and it is expected that more states will follow their example.
Can you imagine a future without delivery drivers—with pizzas flying through the air, and robots whizzing by on the sidewalk? It will certainly be interesting to see. For now, SpeedLine is focused on immediate ways to drive delivery efficiency. SpeedLine LiveMaps uses a visual dispatch system to expedite deliveries, and help drivers navigate traffic without taking to the skies.