Ten years in the making, a UPS system called Orion crunches data so that drivers can save a fraction of a mile. It’s expected to save the world’s biggest package delivery company millions of dollars a year in gas. Bloomberg goes inside the making of the mathematical model that explores the physics of the driving route.
Some of the dreamers in the technology industry are dreaming even bigger. It won’t be just drones, they insist. Robots and autonomous vehicles — think Google’s driverless car — could also disrupt the delivery business.
“As cities become more automated, you’re going to start to see on-demand delivery systems that look like small delivery vehicles and can bring you whatever you want to wherever you are,” said Bryant Walker Smith, a fellow at the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School and a member of the Center for Automotive Research at Stanford. “Rather than go to the store to buy some milk, a robot or drone will go to a warehouse and get it for you, then deliver it.”
The mailman comes, rain or shine. And so does the United Parcel Service delivery truck — and its bikes.
UPS has added two wheels to its fleet of brown vans, for a fourth year.
Twenty five temporary workers are delivering packages on bikes, from Carpinteria to Santa Maria, helping with the overflow of packages this holiday season, up 50-percent.
A chemical fire inside a UPS facility in Uniondale forced the evacuation of workers and damaged some packages.
The flash fire broke out in an awning of the Oak Street facility just after 6:45 Firday morning.
Delivering packages seems like a task that could be easily automated. But, in fact, it’s complicated. Customers are often not at home to receive packages, and so delivery people need to know if they can leave the package safely and where to leave it, whether they should ring a neighbor’s doorbell instead, and so on. Cities present additional problems, since many buildings don’t have doormen and there are typically multiple apartment units in a single building. For a human, dealing with these challenges is reasonably easy, if annoying. How a drone would deal with them is a bit of a mystery.
The genius of the current system, from the customer’s perspective, is that most of the labor of delivery is performed by the person doing the delivering. If I’m not home when my package arrives, the UPS guy knows to leave it with one of the other people in my building. Or, if none of the neighbors are home, they’ll just come back later. I don’t have to do anything, or commit to being anywhere, to get my package. I order it. It arrives. (That’s what makes the rare cases when this isn’t true—like when the U.S.P.S. guy leaves a notice requesting that I trek down to the post office to pick up a package—incredibly annoying.)
Shifting most deliveries to drones would complicate this picture considerably.