Well it happened. The pandemic meant that there was a use for remote controlled vehicles that could deliver groceries. But surprisingly citizens have responded with their own resilience of using online services, having grocery delivery, or preordering groceries and having them waiting curbside for pickup at the store.
Canadians have been slow to become accustomed to online ordering, but Canada Post has been experiencing parcel deliveries of up to 1.8 million parcels a day, similar to Christmas rush levels. Consumers who have never made an online purchase make up 78 percent of customer volume with Shopify merchants, as outlined in this CBC story by Diane Buckner.
But back to those autonomous vehicles. The shuttering of the economy for the pandemic has meant several of the factories that promised things like a “fleet of self-driving taxis” by 2020 (General Motors) and “one million autonomous robotaxis” on the road by the end of the year” (Tesla) have had to reframe those predictions.
As Bloomberg.com reports Waymo, a Google company is the company doing well with autonomous vehicles and is the development leader. it is also the only “fully driverless vehicle” taking passengers.
I have written before how autonomous vehicles were to be the shiny new pennies pledging to undertake all the pesky logistics of driving. But as reported earlier in The Verge.com the most important aspect for any vehicle on the road is the ability to recognize and avoid vulnerable road users. You know, those pedestrians, cyclists and other wheelers that are using the street without the protection of a vehicular steel shell.
And we are not there yet. These vehicles have challenges in “so-called edge cases”. That includes weather, and “when someone else on the road—be it a driver, cyclist or electric scooter pilot—does something unexpected, as humans often do. The halting nature of development has delivered a large dose of humility to the world’s whip-smart mobility experts, who are showing an increased willingness to form posses and work together”.
There are “islands of autonomy” where groceries are delivered by driverless pods, and where seniors can zip around a gated retirement community.
But the investment of $14 billion US dollars has still not produced a truly autonomous vehicle.
While the field of factories will narrow, the use will broaden with online “grocery to gourmet” expansion. One analyst estimated that the use of self driving vehicles for grocery delivery would cut in half conventional trucking freight costs.Read more »