Delivery services turn to autonomous technology

(Image credit: Nuro)

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Food delivery has exploded in popularity over the past decade, and the increase in demand over the past two years has created an urgency for restaurants and delivery service providers to create faster and more efficient systems. affordable. Many of these companies are tapping into the autonomous delivery technology market to continue fulfilling customer orders in new and innovative ways.

“We expect to see increased demand for autonomous on-road delivery across all types of industries and businesses and we are working to meet that demand with our new vehicles designed to fit millions of consumers across the United States,” said Cosimo Leipold, director of partnerships at robotics company Nuro.

Nuro’s unmanned vehicles — which are among the only fully licensed to operate in California — are designed to deliver products to suburban areas, and the company has partnered with major retailers such as Walmart and Kroger. Delivery platform Uber Eats also recently partnered with Nuro to bring its self-driving delivery technology to Houston, Texas and Mountain View, California.

As more driverless vehicles like Nuro’s hit the roads, other food delivery companies are taking off. Unilever’s Ice Cream Shop has chosen drone company Flytrex as its delivery partner for the virtual store’s product offerings in North Carolina and Texas. This overhead method allows customers to have their ice cream delivered directly to their backyard in about three minutes.

“Flytrex is spearheading efforts to meet growing on-demand consumer expectations by enabling restaurants and retailers to integrate faster, safer, greener, more economical and more sustainable last-mile processing than never,” said Yariv Bash, co-founder and CEO of Flytrex.

Autonomous delivery leads the way

The pandemic-related increase in food delivery shows no signs of slowing down, so technology to improve these services is essential for the industry. Nuro’s mission is to reduce or completely eliminate US consumers’ shopping trips made in personal cars through the company’s self-driving delivery vehicles.

“We’ve also found that it’s generally difficult for restaurants and other businesses to hire enough drivers to meet their delivery demand,” Leipold said. “Having the option of a robot or human driver allows restaurants to fill more orders.”

The human labor required by manual delivery demand is nearly impossible to meet, so robotic solutions are the logical category to focus on to advance delivery services, especially in suburban areas. These neighborhoods are often not profitable or efficient for traditional delivery methods, so more than 82 million single-family households currently constitute an untapped market, according to Bash. Flytrex directs its attention to this demographic for its drone deliveries for these reasons, he added.

“Restaurants that integrate automated drone delivery end-to-end can reduce the typical delivery cost by up to 40%,” Bash said. “Because a single drone operator can monitor multiple delivery orders at once, businesses can satisfy customer demand for instant gratification while paying less for transportation costs.”

As consumers continue to prioritize sustainability, companies need to create systems that enable more environmentally responsible purchasing decisions. Bash touts its electric drones for creating less carbon emissions and making road traffic easier. Flytrex’s system allows remote operators to make multiple deliveries at the same time, and Bash also added that customers still view drone delivery as relatively rare, so watch the process of transporting their items directly into their own backyard. courtyard is a pleasant experience.

Partnerships allow merchants and restaurateurs to shine

The Ice Cream Shop rolled out Robomart vans for delivery services earlier this year, but Unilever’s partnership with Flytrex is the brand’s first foray into drone delivery. Bash shared that Flytrex thought the partnership was ideal because of their alignment on improving the efficiency of a time-sensitive product.

“Super-fast food delivery is usually associated with delivering hot, fresh-from-the-oven food to customers,” he said. “But quick delivery of ice cream on a hot day is one and the same: no need to settle for a melted pint in an hour when you can have your ice cream via heaven cold and delicious!”

Leipold also praised Nuro’s recent partnership with Uber Eats because of both parties’ understanding of self-driving technology as well as the platform’s ability to scale the technology for independent restaurants as well as big chains.

“Uber has a great culture of innovation and deep expertise in autonomous technology,” he added. “They understand the challenges and benefits of autonomy and are as committed as we at Nuro are to deploying autonomous vehicles on public roads with safety as the top priority.”

He also pointed out that these tools are not a harbinger of replacement of restaurant workers, but rather a reallocation of resources and time.

“Ultimately, we believe this technology will increase the overall market while creating more fulfilling jobs in restaurants and in other non-delivery roles – and at the same time, lowering the cost of home delivery for consumers,” Leipold said.

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