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How Online Ordering Could Change Our Cities

In an article from The Wall Street Journal's Future of Everything series, a look at how online ordering may alter our cityscapes.
How Online Ordering Could Change Our Cities

In a special section from The Wall Street Journal called The Future of Everything, the newspaper looks at how innovation and technology are transforming the way we live, work and play.

An April article from Will Parker highlights the "tech companies, retailers, and real-estate firms working on ways to alleviate the strain of constant delivery on urban environments" by envisioning "an alternate scenario: skies filled with zipping delivery drones, streets and sidewalks teeming with as many robots as people, and familiar storefronts serving as automated stockrooms for online fulfillment."

Parker writes that each online order "adds to swirling delivery chaos: trucks clog city streets, drivers circle to find parking, bikes swerve around package carts" resulting in "more carbon emissions, more traffic congestion and—despite the rise of near-instant deliveries—probably more unhappiness in city life."

The solutions range from systems for municipal governments to manage curbside loading areas, drone delivery, mobile service robots, autonomous vehicles, and multiple-story warehouses built closer to city centers. And as more and more people place online orders, these "new strategies for delivery could change our cityscapes."

Delivery Town: How Your Online Order Will Change Your City (Will Parker - The Wall Street Journal)

Excerpt from The Wall Street Journal: The e-commerce process, from order to fulfillment, will gradually move toward total automation, says David Wilson, chief executive of machinery company Columbus McKinnon, which uses robotic components in warehouse lifting equipment. “The vehicle that pulls up is an autonomously driven vehicle. The unpacking is done with vision technology and robotic equipment. The movement of equipment to automated storage and retrieval systems is done via mobile robots,” Mr. Wilson says, describing the warehouse of the future.
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