They say there are two certainties in life: death and tax. It’s estimated that annually there are around 50 million deaths globally. That number is expected to reach 70 million per annum by the end of the decade. There are some very similar parallels to urbanisation and housing. 

Like urbanisation, cemeteries are running out of space. And it doesn’t end there, they are also experiencing traffic congestion. Especially during peak periods such as mother’s day and other significant days. More vehicle traffic comes through the grounds during these periods. 

An additional challenge around parking space presents itself because of this. In some establishments, visitors are requested to leave their vehicles at a designated parking spot closer to the entrance. This creates a first and last mile transportation blackspot as visitors are required to walk a long distance to arrive at the final resting spot of their loved ones. 

Even when visitors are allowed to drive on the grounds, parking is still a challenge and often cars have no choice but to park  along already narrow paths. This creates potential safety hazards as well as places unnecessary strain on what is usually already an emotional visit. Like urban spaces, with cemeteries and memorial parks now being viewed as open community spaces, they will also begin to see more traffic.  

Fortunately there is a novel solution in autonomous shuttles. They can be deployed to solve these parking and space challenges cemeteries and memorial parks experience. The technology has already been tried and tested over a number of years by airports, local governments and master planned communities to solve specific first and last mile transportation challenges that correlate directly to the problems growing in cemeteries and memorial parks.

What’s even more interesting about autonomous vehicles in cemeteries is, they not only solve operational challenges but can add to revenue generation. To put things into perspective, the industry is built on a “one time customer” model. And, it has caught the attention of astute investors for its recession-proof robustness. Maximising shareholder revenue is both financially and strategically-sound.

A major source of revenue in the death care industry is pre-need sales. People prepay for a funeral to ensure their demise does not become a financial burden for loved ones. These upfront investments are a major source of strategic income to mature death care industry players. Especially the ones that are listed on the stock exchange. 

The death care industry is one that is personal in nature, creating an emotional bond with a final resting site is crucial. Therefore some players have adopted interesting strategies to invite people into their green open spaces to build this emotional connection. They’ve used guided tours and special events as possible means to encourage more people through the gates. These initiatives can subtly initiate a conversation around pre-need sales. 

Autonomous shuttles can not only solve the traffic, parking, safety and transportation challenges experienced by cemeteries and memorial parks, empirical evidence suggests they are also a highly plausible means to get more people through the gates to enjoy these green open spaces. An autonomous shuttle fleet can also be set up to incorporate relevant marketing messaging and serve as a driverless tour, especially in the summer months when the sun can be unforgiving.


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