The robots are coming—and they’re bringing your online order - Digital Commerce 360 Last-mile delivery—the process of moving items from warehouses or stores to consumers’ homes—is a challenge for retailers. It’s expensive, error-prone and not responsive enough to effectively accommodate on-demand delivery of items purchased online. To address these problems, online retailers and others are turning to robots. While some retailers are testing full-sized, self-driving cars, a fresh breed of vehicles is emerging: the delivery robot. New, purpose-built delivery robots are small, relatively lightweight and made to operate at low speeds. They’re designed to make deliveries without drivers, often in places off-limits to cars, such as sidewalks. Delivery robots have the potential to boost the speed and efficiency of retail deliveries and significantly reduce costs, says Robert Doyle, vice president for the Robotic Industries Association (RIA), a trade association serving the robotics industry. One estimate, from investment management firm ARK Investment Management LLC, suggests robots could reduce the cost of last-mile delivery to 6 cents per mile compared with about $1.60 per mile for a delivery made by a human. Because they are agile and adaptable, robots could be the best choice for some deliveries, especially in crowded urban areas or on college campuses.