April, 9, 2018 (RARC-WP-18-005)

  • A large majority of Americans believe delivery robots will be in use within the next five years.
  • Many more say they like delivery robot concepts than dislike them — particularly if the robot will help mail carriers.
  • The ability to receive deliveries when and where recipients choose and their potential to improve working conditions and reduce injuries for delivery people ranked as delivery robots’ biggest benefits.

Delivery robots may seem futuristic, but this next wave of logistics technology is already being tested on neighborhood sidewalks from Washington, D.C. to the German spa town Bad Hersfeld and the Swiss capital Bern. Major retailers and logistics operators are funding research that banks on the technology’s promise to lower costs and increase operational efficiency while improving labor conditions for delivery people.  

In order to understand how the public might react to postal delivery robots, the OIG administered an online survey targeting a nationally representative sample of residents 18-75 years old in all 50 states and the District of Columbia in late November and early December 2017. The goal was to gauge public perception of delivery robot technology for two different applications: self-guided robots that would independently deliver to recipients, and self-guided robots that would follow delivery people to help them complete their work.

To help different audiences find information most useful for them, the reporting for this project has been divided into three shorter, separate products:

Summary Report: Overview that includes national results.
Detailed Subgroup Findings Report: Deep dive into the data to explore any geographical, generational, or urban/rural differences in public perception.
Methodology Report: Details on how the data were collected.

Comments (2)

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  • anon

    I for one am a living, breathing, human being who interacts with other human beings. NO ROBOTS, VERY BAD IDEA

    Apr 16, 2018
  • anon

    Excellent report. My preference would be for “helper” robots. My concern is that many homes and apartments are not handicap accessible. I believe this would be a “must” for any type of robot with wheels. They would have to have the properties of an ATV as well as an ability to conquer stairs and elevators. Without these attributes they would be no more help to the human carrier than the push carts currently in use. I also think a cost-benefit study as to repair and maintenance of robots and medical and disability coverage for humans would have to be done. Personally, I believe we are looking at the wave of the future and I will be content with considered approaches from the USPS.

    Apr 11, 2018