We do not need flying delivery drones, just smarter delivery systems with ground based robots

While the idea of a Amazon Prime Air drone dropping onto my doorstep and delivering my latest purchase might seem fun and cool the reality is it simply may not be needed. The only reason delivery trucks such as the large brown truck only deliver to me around 4pm each day is simply the time taken for one driver to take each parcel to an address. I call this one at a time parcel delivery. Its the same story for the USPS service. Each day our excellent delivery guy comes onto our estate then spends a long time going door to door. Imagine if he could deliver to every house at the same time. This would mean he could do multiple delivery runs each day and in the case of the brown truck would also mean that when my new purchase arrives at my local distribution center at say 2pm it would be actually delivered the same day as of course our new fast delivery service would return to the distribution center and pick up another load because now they can deliver at least on a residential estate to many houses at the same time.

But how can this be achieved? Well let me say that no flying machines are needed, instead we just need a new style of truck. One that carries a fleet of robotic delivery vehicles. In this scenario the driver would drive onto the middle of the estate then hit deploy. all the robotic vehicles in his truck would already have self loaded their parcels and after the doors open would scurry out to their addresses to drop the parcels then return to the truck. In doing so there are no flying drones. These robotic drones would either be on wheels, tracks or perhaps legs such as those from Boston Dynamics

You could imagine the truck goes to the start of the street and deploys these mini vehicles then drives to the end of the street and picks them all up. He might even just drive slowly down the street and the robotic vehicles would deploy and return while the vehicle was moving. The point would be to empower the delivery driver to be able to handle way more many parcel deliveries each day and therefore increase the number of possible deliveries. In the case of large or heavy packages you would have multiple robots carry them to the door step. I would propose a single size of robotic delivery vehicle that could then combine with others to increase load carrying ability.

Yes we would all like to receive a package 30 minutes after ordering but the best start could be to take our current delivery systems and empower the drivers to be able to deliver much faster and multiple times through the day.

The delivery guy of the future, instead of being just the guy who drops a package on your doorstep could actually be a robotic specialist in control of his own fleet of robots.

Perhaps my son, who (if Santa Claus is good to him) will take delivery of his own Lego Mindstorms EV3 system will start working on a prototype :-)


John O'Donnell, Sr. Technology Evangelist, DPE
Microsoft Corporation