The UK is leading the pack on the adoption of drone and autonomous vehicle technology but lags behind a number of European countries on other key metrics, according to a new study.

The European Delivery Innovator Index, conducted by return loads platform Courier Exchange, analysed data on various metrics connecting the courier industry with innovation and technological advancement.

Factors taken into consideration include transport infrastructure, electric vehicle charging point availability and the general capacity for innovation.

It found that the UK stands out for its progressive legislation on autonomous vehicle and drone technology, which the Index said indicates an openness to embrace this new technology to expand road delivery services.

It pointed to UK plans to open the world’s biggest drone superhighway - a 265 kilometre air corridor connecting towns and cities in southern and central England - as an example of UK delivery innovation.


In addition, the UK performs well across a range of factors that signal potential to innovate in road delivery services, according to the study, ranking above Sweden, Spain and Belgium, and with a score more than double that of Poland.

The study revealed that the UK is better equipped to adopt innovative technologies in the road delivery industry than the majority of European countries.

However, in terms of road quality and electric light commercial vehicle usage, the UK lags behind the Netherlands, Germany, France and Switzerland, the study found.

The UK ranks just fifth in Europe for capacity for innovation, technological progress and sustainability in the delivery and courier industry, the study revealed.

It warns that if the UK wants to keep pace with other European nations, then investment is a must in these areas.

Luke Davies, Courier Exchange commercial director said: “Demand for delivery services is showing no signs of slowing down, so to keep up, the sector will need to find efficiencies where it can. Innovation will play a huge role in achieving this and innovation will come in many guises, from AI to drones.

“It’s vital that the delivery sector embraces technology and adapts, particularly when customers have become so used to convenience and speedy delivery. Customers are also demanding that the goods they buy are sustainable, at every stage of the supply chain, so we’ll soon see more electric delivery vehicles on the road.

“What’s encouraging is that so many European nations are well-positioned when it comes to innovation. Just how ready they are varies from territory to territory, but the overall picture is promising and once innovative practices become the norm – and are seen to be successful – other countries will introduce them.”