Economic Impacts of Autonomous Delivery Services in the US

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Autonomous Vehicles will revolutionize last-mile deliveries The use of Autonomous Vehicles (AVs) is enhancing the convenience and efficiency of last-mile delivery. AV technology, in combination with established online platforms, is facilitating new business models across retail and food delivery. Delivery AVs can provide an effective solution to carry goods from local stores and restaurants through an on-demand, last-mile delivery service. These vehicles are equipped with lidar sensors, radar and cameras to monitor surroundings, and are designed to carry goods rather than people. Custom on-road delivery AVs, like Nuro’s R2, are space-efficient electric vehicles, which are smaller than a standard passenger car. They are built to operate on urban and suburban streets. Delivery AV services are emerging as one of the first commercial applications for AVs in the United States (US). The use of delivery AVs for last-mile delivery has the potential to accelerate demand for home delivery considerably. For consumers, delivery AV services are expected to influence purchasing behavior, reducing the need to drive to stores. Increased use of delivery services will be encouraged by an improved consumer experience and lower prices. While existing grocery delivery services add $10–201 to the cost, initial delivery AV pilots have cost $5.95, and Nuro aims to reduce the delivery cost to $0 for the consumer, providing a more broadly accessible service.2 For the retail sector, delivery AV services could be transformational, offering a broader range of opportunities, leading to lower delivery costs and greater demand for on-demand delivery offerings.