Amazon's plans to deliver packages via drones may have some competition in the shipping industry, thanks to self-driving delivery vehicles. Industry experts expect those to become widespread well in advance of consumer models or driverless taxis. There are, in fact, already a number of manufacturers jumping at the opportunity to create these types of vehicles in terms of large delivery systems. That includes Tesla's autonomous semis, as well as those being developed by Google's Waymo and lighter vehicles that don't simply move products between factories or retail locations. Ford, for example, has already begun experimenting with food delivery which hinges on customers coming out to a self-driving vehicle to pick up their order.
That all comes down to the enormous cost benefits of autonomous deliveries as compared to the financial benefits of self-driving cars. The latter will assist to cut costs and reduce travel time for end users and are likely going to arrive in due time once the general public begins to trust the technology. However, the former would arguably have a much more immediate and profound impact on the cost to ship packages and the amount of time it takes to do so. For starters, if the delivery system doesn't depend on human drivers, the hours during which packages could be delivered would increase significantly. Tesla claims that savings would be around 70-percent. That point only becomes more poignant when taking into consideration that the vehicle-to-door portion of the deliveries process is being worked on. Deliveries would also simply take much less time, eliminating the delay problems associated with the growing demand for the services. A robot delivery service could run 24 hours per day, seven days per week. With that said, the cost savings go far beyond those created by cutting costs associated with human drivers. The lack of seats, stereo equipment, air-bags, and other driver-related amenities could also feasibly cut down on the weight of delivery vehicles and consequently reduce spending on fuel, while possibly allowing more aerodynamic vehicles to be made.
If the predictions hold true, as many as 80-percent of all deliveries will be made autonomously within the next ten years. That number is substantially larger than expectations for consumer vehicle adoption rates. Individual purchases of autonomous cars and trucks are expected to hit around 33 million over the course of the next two decades, yet that's less than three-percent of the current number of vehicles on the road over a much longer timescale.