September 2021 brought something of a milestone to the smart mobility movement. Historically, Germany’s legendary IAA was a celebration of the automotive industry. Held in Frankfurt, it attracted petrolheads from all over the world who wanted a first-hand glimpse at the state of the industry. However, times have changed, and the IAA has evolved with it.
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In their eagerness to create breakthrough technologies and disruptive platforms, innovators sometimes collide with an established (and perhaps ill-suited) regulatory and policy-making process. In a previous article on e-scooters, we reported that a strategy of "permissionless innovation" enabled app-activated e-scooter startups to gain a precarious foothold in urban mobility markets. However, these startups soon discovered that safety and regulatory issues - including the lack of regulations in most situations - led to controversial relations with cities and citizens. In this article, we cover recent experiences, lessons learned and thoughts on the need for collaborative solutions. For an overview of the e-scooter market and its dynamics, read our article E-Scooters: A Passing Fad or Smart Mobility?
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Innovation in last-mile freight and parcel delivery solutions could yield significant benefits for cities by reducing traffic congestion in urban centers, improving public health by lessening greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and contributing to the success of sustainable urban economies.
What is Last Mile Delivery?
From a manufacturer's plant or warehouse or a supplier or retailer location, the last mile of delivery is the final stage in the shipping process, culminating with the arrival of a package or goods at a customer's destination.
Last-mile delivery and associated services are provided by established freight transport companies, courier firms, independent drivers and couriers, click-and-collect retailers, self-service parcel lockers, and postal service destination hubs. Delivery vehicles in the last mile include diesel and gas-powered trucks and vans, electric trucks, pushcarts, pedal carts, bicycles and robotic vehicles (in pilot projects). Due to the steady growth of e-commerce, the number of delivery vehicles and the volume of deliveries and locations has dramatically increased. In addition, the market for urban delivery services is undergoing an evolution with independent drivers and new entrants competing with traditional courier firms.