A number of outfits (including Google) have been working extensively on making self-driving cars. Someone should take that technology and apply it to a smaller automaton — create the P&DA Pickup and Delivery Service. This business would run a number of P&DAs (pronounced “pan-duh”, for Pickup AND Delivery Automaton) out of central garage/shop/repair/charging stations to handle a variety of pickup and delivery services. The v1.0 P&DAs would be slow, light, and small electric scooters with side wheels for extra stability and a box for cargo instead of a human driver/rider/passenger seat; I think I see them as speed-limited to like 15-30kph at first for safety in order to prove that the technology is reliable and can be safe. The service model would be to provide a smooth, web-based, mobile-accessible interface for “retail” customers, as well as more advanced features and contact/help for corporate/enterprise contracts, so that customers could order that a P&DA arrive at address A, be loaded with whatever, arrive at address B, get unloaded, and return to its home charging/service station. Have the container designed by the people who make ATMs, for physical security, and it could only be unlocked if its GPS coordinates were correct and a secret key code (sent by email to the delivery receiver) is typed into its keypad. I might also integrate a credit card reader into the keypad so it would only open once you paid for the delivery.
Imagine ordering a delivery made to you, even if you out at the library or at a coffee shop. You could also use it to drop off packages to the post office (skip the line!). Would you order your next take-out food, grocery, or dry cleaning transportation from a P&DA?