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Megatrends for this decade – XIX

Estimated market growth for drone delivery worldwide, expected to reach 27.4 B$ US by the end of this decade. Notice the lion’s share taken by Asia/Pacific region followed by US as a distant second. Image credit: Markets and Markets

e) Instant delivery

Logistic chains are one of the marvel of today’s world. They work (most of the times) seamlessly and are so effective that you can get your delivery within a single working day (it does not work for any place and for any type of goods but I can vouch that I can get a number of Amazon delivery within 24 hours most of the time).

This Megatrend foresees an immediate delivery, lets say within a few hours and even within an hour, for most types of goods and for most location. I don’t think this will be feasible in general but that “instant” delivery will become part of the daily life of many people in many situations by the end of this decades is a reasonable expectation.

First consider that 68% of the planet population will be living in a urban environment by 2030 and 730 million people will be living in one of the 31 megalopolis (more than 10 million inhabitants) by the same date. This high concentration of people in urban environment creates poles of attraction for market and allows the creation of effective hubs for the logistic chain in the last (few) miles.

Drones delivery has entered into a trial phase in several market segments. In the photo a drone delivery by Deuce Drone on behalf of Rouses Markets. Image credit: PYMNTS

Second consider that robotic delivery, including drone delivery, is progressing rapidly with the big guns (Amazon, Fedex, UPS, …) all running trials.

It is not just the big guns experimenting with autonomous delivery. Big retailers chains are also interested and a few have started trials, as shown in the photo, a delivery using a Boston made Deuce Drone by Rouses Markets in Alabama (a store chain with 64 stores employing 7,000 people).

Emergency services are also using drones to deliver first aid kits, drugs and food to areas that are isolated. All of this is fostering technology evolution and we can expect to have more affordable and effective drones as time goes by.

As shown in the graphic, the market for drone based delivery is expected to grow significantly from today’s basically not existing to 2.3 B$ in 2023 and up to 27.4 B$ in 2030.  Most of the market is related to delivery of packages under 2kg of weight (above that bigger drones are needed to carry the increased load). Also, projections indicated that the segment of longer range delivery (over 25km) is expected to grow faster.

Autonomous delivery robots are widely used in warehouses, in hospitals and are now starting to be used on factory floor. Trials are running for using autonomous as freight delivery in urban environment and the pandemic has increased the interest towards contact-less delivery such as the one provided by autonomous freight vehicles designed for the last mile. Supermarkets and big stores are the prime focus for their deployment.

I am not sure that both drone delivery and autonomous freight delivery will become the norm by the end of the decade everywhere. Most likely there will be some areas that will make use of this delivery type (mostly because of geographical location and landscape type) whilst others will see this type of delivery more as an exception.

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the New Initiative Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He is a member of the IEEE in 2050 Ad Hoc Committee. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.