A few weeks ago, I was driving to my remote farm in California. Several miles down the dirt road, I came upon a disabled UPS truck. I asked the driver if he needed any help. He said he had a flat tire and was waiting for a tow truck. As I was about to take off, he said, “Wait, let me give you your package!”
He handed me a lightweight padded envelope. I ripped the top off and pulled out a single roll of Teflon tape. We looked at the tape, then looked at each other and burst out laughing at the absurdity of the situation. That was his only delivery in the area that day.
When you combine the handling, driver time, overhead costs, and truck repairs, that delivery probably cost about 1,000 times the value of the item being delivered. Sure, I felt bad about this particular delivery. But social and environmental issues aside, what happened from 2010 to 2020 that made online shopping a guilt-free on-demand experience? It’s simple: Automation.
About the author: Daniel Theobald is founder and CEO of Vecna Robotics, as well as president and co-founder of MassRobotics.
Read the full article in Robotics Business Review.