Autonomous delivery vehicles are set to revolutionise the current e-commerce environment, drive consumer demand for more and faster goods deliveries and lead to an entirely new delivery ecosystem, according to new research from KPMG.
As artificial intelligence and robotics become more widespread, predicts the firm, a new fulfilment system will emerge where goods orders are placed, received, communicated and delivered via a fleet of autonomous vehicles.
"E-commerce has been a tremor, but autonomous delivery vehicles now represent an earthquake of a magnitude not seen before"
Metropolitan markets with unique consumer living, working and travel patterns – labelled by KPMG as ‘islands of autonomy’ – will drive the requirement for locally tailored delivery services.
And as delivery costs drop, delivery times become faster and consumers reduce the number of vehicles they own, says the firm, there will be a “monumental” change in consumer behaviour as shoppers demand same-day or even same-hour delivery.
As a result, forecasts KPMG, there will be a global transformation for the automobile and transportation industries that could see autonomous delivery vehicle miles travelled (VMT) reach 78 billion per year by 2040.
“E-commerce has been a tremor, but autonomous delivery vehicles now represent an earthquake of a magnitude not seen before,” said Gary Silberg, KPMG’s Automotive sector leader.
“With the push of a button, consumers will have their orders fulfilled far more efficiently than ever could be imagined because autonomous delivery will use cloud computer networking, natural language processing and artificial intelligence to deliver their orders at an unprecedented rate.
“For consumers the delivery experience will go from next day to same day to next hour to even next minute!”
As delivery times speed up, KPMG’s report forecasts particularly robust demand for small, single-package delivery vehicles that can satisfy demand for same-hour delivery. It also predicts a growing market for vehicles that can hold multiple customer orders for efficient same-day or next-day delivery.
At the same time, new services and businesses will be needed to support delivery – ranging from building autonomous delivery vehicles to cleaning, charging and maintaining them.
The report also predicts infrastructure changes to accommodate delivery bots, including changes in sidewalks, loading and unloading zones, spaces for delivery lockboxes and vehicle charging and maintenance stations.
“Future delivery and retailing markets must be analyzed and developed locally if a business wants to excel,” said Tom Mayor, KPMG’s strategy lead for Industrial Manufacturing.
“The winners will undertake, ‘island-by-island’ analyses of metro markets to understand residential densities, shopping patterns and the resulting, localized consumer time-and-convenience sensitivities that will determine the likely mix of next-day, same-day, same hour or ‘get-it-myself’ shopping. As a result, shopping and last-mile logistics will never be the same.”
The full report – Autonomy delivers: An oncoming revolution in the movement of goods – can be found here.