Drones, self-driving cars and 3D printers may seem like fantasies from a sci-fi novel, but in reality, the possibility of their everyday use is only years away. Online retailers are more determined than ever to reduce the time and cost to ship products to a customer’s front door. In this quest, companies are thinking way outside of the box to come up with high tech package delivery options that will revolutionize not only the retail industry but also the world.
- 3D Printers: Already readily available and priced in line with what a tech-minded consumer is willing to pay, 3D printers are no longer a product of the future but rather very much of the present. According to the LA Times, there were 28 different 3D printing exhibitors present at this years’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas – up from only eight the previous year. 3D printing is revolutionary in that it puts the power to manufacture an object into anyone’s hands – no longer requiring a factory for production. Future possibilities for 3D printing technology are endless including the option to purchase a product design plan from an online retailer and then print the product at home – eliminating the need for shipping altogether.
- Delivery Drones: With Amazon’s latest announcement that product delivery via drones (octocopters) is only years away and the fact that drone use is already underway to deliver textbooks in Australia by a company called Zookal, it’s not completely out of the question that this could become a viable shipping alternative of the future. However, there are still some pretty significant hurdles that have to be overcome before drone technology is put to everyday use in the United States including legal issues, safety considerations, and privacy concerns, making Amazon’s 2015 launch date very ambitious. Read more about this high tech concept and watch the drone in action in the Forbes article, “Amazon Testing Drones For 30 Minute Delivery Using Service Called Amazon Prime Air”
- Self-driving Cars: Google’s driverless cars have actually already become legal in three states, Nevada, Florida and California. Michigan also legalized the technology but a human must be in the car to operate it on roads. Audi and BMW have embraced this technology, as both automakers revealed self-driving models at CES 2014. Google Chauffeur technology could easily translate to commercial use by developing driverless delivery trucks. According to an article in Business Insider, Google’s driverless technology may revolutionize package delivery more so than Amazon’s drones.
Regardless of what technology wins the race to market, at some point it’s quite possible retailers will use a combination of all three depending on the nature of the product. What will package delivery of the future look like for you? Will you print at home or await robotics to deliver to your door? Or, will you drive to a store and buy products the (soon-to-be) old fashioned way?
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