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How is the delivery industry responding to the challenges posed by COVID-19?

2020 saw a big jump in the demand for home deliveries, and innovative technologies have stepped in to enable couriers to make significantly more deliveries in recent months. What new technologies are predicted to dominate the delivery industry in 2021 and beyond?

The shipping and delivery industries were two of the first to recognize a downturn in production output owing to the current global pandemic, with issues such as port closures, a lower demand for cargo, and disputes between owners and charters owing to delays, causing the loss of vital time and money.

By the same token, 2020 saw a big jump in the demand for home deliveries, and innovative technologies have stepped in to enable couriers to make significantly more deliveries in recent months. What new technologies are predicted to dominate the delivery industry in 2021 and beyond?

Delivery Drones And Robots

Companies like Amazon and UPS are currently testing drones for delivery, hoping to receive government approval to use low-altitude airspace in the near future. Today, hundreds of thousands of commercial drones are already registered, and in countries like Canada and England, this technology is already being used to make deliveries to remote areas. The company Zipline has made over 90,000 deliveries of crucial medical supplies to numerous Rwandan hospitals. This is also the case in the Philippines, where the Philippine Red Cross has partnered with Zipline to make emergency blood deliveries with drones.

Route Optimization

Many online orders – particularly those involving restaurant meals, demand same-day or immediate delivery. However, as stated by a leading Southern shipper, others – such as supermarket orders – can get by with next business day delivery or similar. Some companies slightly increase prices for programmed or delivery within a certain hour – a convenience that many customers are willing to invest in to ensure prompt delivery. Route planning via artificial intelligence allows delivery teams to optimize routes in real time, allowing them to reduce the time lost to traffic, spend less time on the road, and be aware of any road conditions or traffic that may make usual routes less viable. Top companies are relying on SaaS solutions that provide real time ETA tracking, proof of delivery, delivery network intelligence, analytics, and more, while also providing tools for customer communication.

Automated Vehicles

The Philippines is one of the first companies in Asia to experiment with autonomous vehicles, which are predicted to play a key role in deliveries in the future. In 2019, COAST Autonomous pilot-tested its self-driving vehicles in New Clark City. These vehicles are fully electric, and, if used in deliveries, will help significantly lower the carbon footprint of busy cities like Manila. In some US states, such as Arizona, autonomous cargo vans are being piloted to deliver groceries. Other establishments are offering self-driving cars to pick people up to take them to the closest supermarket. In Michigan and many other states, establishments such as Domino’s Pizza are using automated cars to test food deliveries.

The current pandemic has led to a significant rise in the demand for home delivery. From fashion to food, appliances to décor, items are being shopped for online, leading to a need for faster, more efficient service and the reliance on automated technologies. Automated drones, optimized routes, and self-driving vehicles are just three industries that are working on taking home deliveries into a new dimension.

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