A busy time for online delivery innovation

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The online delivery sector is constantly evolving, as evidenced by recent developments.

Three major online delivery providers – Amazon, Uber, and Grubhub, have all announced the launch of solutions that could have a significant impact on the direction of this sector.

While these developments were all months or years in the making, the fact they were coincidentally revealed to the public within a few days of each other reflects the continual change occurring in online delivery. It is also worth noting two of the three offerings eliminate human drivers.

Here’s an overview of each innovation:

Amazon prepares for drone delivery launch
Amazon customers in Lockeford, Calif., will be among the first to receive Prime Air drone deliveries in the U.S. Drone deliveries will be fulfilled in less than one hour from the time an order is placed.

For these deliveries, the drone will fly to the designated delivery location, descend to the customer’s backyard, and hover at a safe height. It will then safely release the package and rise back up to altitude.

According to Amazon, it has created a “sense-and-avoid” system that will enable operations without visual observers and allow its drone to operate at greater distances while safely and reliably avoiding other aircraft, people, pets, and obstacles. 

While other retailers, such as Walmart and Kroger, also offer some level of drone delivery, Amazon moving beyond pilot phase is a huge step that should accelerate the development of this form of delivery automation.

Uber dramatically expands range of food delivery
Uber Technologies Inc. is taking a national approach to what has traditionally been a local service. Its Uber Eats on-demand delivery subsidiary is now offering a new nationwide shipping option.

Consumers across the U.S. can now order food items from select retailers in New York City, Miami, and Los Angeles (with more cities to come soon) via the Uber Eats app. To place a nationwide shipping order, customers open the Uber Eats app and click the “Nationwide shipping” tile.

Once they have selected the retailer they want to order from, consumers then select the item(s) they would like to purchase and add them to their cart. Customers can confirm their order by viewing their cart and going to checkout, with delivery provided via FedEx.

According to Uber, consumers have been asking for the ability to have specialty food items from far-off locations delivered to their home, while retailers have requested the ability to diversify their delivery offerings and reach new consumers. If nationwide shipping proves successful, expect many of Uber’s competitors to go far beyond local with their online delivery ranges.

Grubhub rolling out delivery robots at Ohio State – and beyond?
This fall, students at Ohio State University can get robot-based food delivery as part of the meal plan.Grubhub is partnering with self-driving, AI-powered robotics provider Cartken to bring robot delivery to U.S. college campuses.

The companies piloted the service at Ohio State University during spring 2022, and a full rollout is expected there this fall. Cartken robots are designed to safely navigate pavements, crosswalks and pedestrian paths within the campus area without human guidance., utilizing proprietary artificial intelligence (AI) and camera-based navigation and mapping technology.

Grubhub partners with more than 250 college campuses across the U.S. to give students the ability to integrate meal plans directly into their Grubhub account and have access to restaurants both on- and off-campus for delivery and pickup.

The partnership with Cartken makes autonomous robot delivery a potential option at all of those campuses. Considering the late hours and fast food proclivities of the typical college student, university campuses may prove an ideal environment for delivery robots.

Source: Chain Store Age