Report: As Robots, Autonomous Vehicles Deliver Products, Infrastructure, Consumer Culture to Change


KPMG, a global professional service company with a Detroit office, predicts the development of autonomous delivery vehicles will drive consumer demand for more and faster deliveries and lead to a new product delivery ecosystem.

“E-commerce has been a tremor, but autonomous delivery vehicles now represent an earthquake of a magnitude not seen before,” says Gary Silberg, automotive sector leader at KPMG. “With the push of a button, consumers will have their orders fulfilled far more efficiently than ever could be imagined because autonomous delivery will use cloud computer networking, natural language processing, and artificial intelligence to deliver their orders at an unprecedented rate. For consumers, the delivery experience will go from next day to same day to next hour to even next minute.”

Using artificial intelligence and robotics, the company expects a new fulfillment system will emerge in which orders are delivered via fleets of autonomous vehicles to metropolitan markets that each have its own requirements for locally tailored delivery services based on the region’s living, working, and travel patterns, KPMG reports.

The company also expects a lower cost of delivery, faster delivery, and fewer personal vehicles for shopping as consumers reduce the number of vehicles they own. All of this is intertwined with a change in consumer behavior.

This also will lead to an increase in delivery-vehicle miles traveled, which could reach 78 billion per year by 2040; a market for specialized autonomous delivery vehicles on the ground and in the air to service the delivery of goods at different response times; new services and businesses to support delivery and manage these vehicles; and new infrastructure to accommodate the vehicles, including changes in sidewalks, loading and unloading zones, lockboxes on houses, and stations for storing and maintaining vehicles.

“Future delivery and retailing markets must be analyzed and developed locally if a business wants to excel,” says Tom Mayor, strategy lead for industrial manufacturing at KPMG. “The winners will undertake island-by-island analyses of metro markets to understand residential densities, shopping patterns, and the resulting, localized consumer time-and-convenience sensitivities that will determine the likely mix of next-day, same-day, same-hour, or get-it-myself shopping. As a result, shopping and last-mile logistics will never be the same.”

The full report is available here.

KPMG LLP offers audit, tax, and advisory services.