I just read an article about a new trend in delivery services on Peter Diamandis’s blog, Abundance Insider. Here’s what he wrote:
Thousands of autonomous delivery robots are about to descend on US college campuses
What it is: Having just raised $40 million in its Series A round, autonomous robot delivery startup Starship Technologies is now targeting U.S. college campuses. In total, Starship’s self-driving delivery bots have traveled 350,000 miles, completing over 100,000 deliveries across 20 different countries. With extensive testing under its belt, the company plans to deploy thousands of its all-electric, six-wheeled bots for college food deliveries over the next two years. Already in action at George Mason University and Northern Arizona University, the robots can carry up to 20 pounds of cargo and make deliveries within a three-to-four-mile radius.
Why it’s important: Online grocery shopping is predicted to surge up to fivefold over the next ten years, and American consumers are expected to spend upwards of $100 billion on food-at-home items by 2025. While today’s human-conducted delivery services (think: Postmates and DoorDash) are on the rise, these non-automated options remain heavily subsidized, as labor costs far exceed those of robotized alternatives. By first targeting college campuses, companies like Starship can benefit from well-defined, easily navigable environments (not to mention an abundance of tech-savvy, young buyers) while building out an expanded business model for urban integration.
So what do we make of this? Automation, in general, is a trend that seems both inevitable and also fast-moving. That’s a good thing for consumers and for the environment and for the companies developing these tools. But what about all those people making a living today in jobs (such as delivery “boys”) that could soon be a thing of the past?
So far, technological evolution has created more, not fewer, jobs. Many relatively unskilled workers are now employed in the continuously expanding service market. But automation is insinuating itself in the service industries, too. Thinking like this puts the mind right into science fiction movies of 20 and 30 years ago. Will it be a world where everyone is working 2-hour days? Or will it be a world divided into fortified cities surrounded by wilderness where people in loincloths scavenge for food?