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U.S. Study Explores Public Acceptance of Last-Mile Delivery Robots


To help companies and policymakers meet the growing challenges and demands of last-mile deliveries, a recently published U.S. study explores the customer preferences and acceptance of delivery robots. The study also looked at the concerns and acceptance barriers of individuals towards last-mile delivery robots and other automated delivery options.

Existing studies show that public acceptance of last-mile delivery robots is linked to three factors: perceived usefulness, convenience, and flexibility. However, the new study was able to pinpoint the two most determining factors: overall cost and delivery speed.

For the former factor, this entails the shipping fee a customer would have to pay and the latter being the time it would take for one to receive the parcel. Simply put, so long as a customer doesn’t have to pay more (or if one has to pay less) while receiving the package faster, then delivery robots would be more accepted.

A U.S. Study Explores the Public Acceptance of Last-Mile Delivery Robots

The study also discovered the potential negatives most customers have regarding last-mile delivery robots. Concerns about robots reducing human employment opportunities, safety, security, and open questions about shipping performances, operational needs, and regulatory support are the top-listed. Other acceptance barriers include package handling as well as a lack of trust and familiarity.

A notable deterrent that came out was the potential mishandling of deliveries and packages by delivery robots. This concern emerged greatly, especially when the packages are expensive and fragile. Through a simulation conducted in the study, overall results would show that there is an 8.3% positive increase in the acceptance of delivery robots when the concern of package handling is removed.

Concerning demographics, the study determined a specific market that is more likely to accept delivery robots handling their packages and showing up at their doorstep. These are more likely to be individuals who have attained higher education and are more technologically well-versed. On the other hand, older individuals tend to be more wary or exhibit a lower preference for automated modes.

A U.S. Study Explores the Public Acceptance of Last-Mile Delivery Robots

A factor that remains ambiguous though is how carbon footprint and possible environmental impacts play a role in the public acceptance of last-mile delivery robots. This can be an interesting and important factor to include in future studies, especially since a growing number of people demand companies to be more eco-friendly.

Nonetheless, the study gave us great insight into the public’s general preference and acceptance of last-mile delivery robots — that is among attitudinal, demographic, and market-based factors, the time and money of the end consumer are the most important ones.

To end, while seeing delivery robots already running food deliveries and roaming streets can help in gaining public acceptance of these automated modes, this new study can help more companies and policymakers look into improvements and technologies that can fulfill unmet customer needs and concerns.

Sota Takahashi

Sota Takahashi is a Japanese-born electrical engineer. At the age of 18, he moved to Seattle and completed his Electrical Engineering degree at the University of Washington, Seattle. Being a fan of all things tech, he channels his geeky side through this website, and with his wife Linda, shares knowledge about robot pets and how they can be lifelong and advantageous companions for both children and the elderly.

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