FedEx has entered into a partnership with autonomous delivery startup Nuro to test the little robot car for delivering packages in the company’s network. They are working together on a pilot project in Houston. The two companies have apparently signed a multi-year and multi-phase agreement for this. However, FedEx is still referring to the agreement as a test. This in a way the right move for a company like FedEx as it is not in the position to fully depend on the performance of an autonomous startup platform. Nuro is a pretty young autonomous platform that makes a little robot car called the R2. It is likely that the company has to go a long way before Nuro starts rolling out a wide-scale autonomous vehicle with FedEx Livery. The partnership has been announced at a time when the multinational delivery services company is working to reduce the cost of last-mile delivery. Parcel companies have been witnessing a surge ever since the pandemic struck.
The partnership is a big development for not just the two companies but for all those who see the future in autonomous vehicles. Cosimo Leipold, Nuro’s head of partnerships said that the partnership will allow the company to expand its powerful technology to more people in newer ways. “This commitment will help us deploy our technology on a large scale.” Leipold was quoted as saying by a news organization. “Our innovative and industry-first product will also make the life of everyone better. Moreover, it will make the community safer and greener.” However, details of the partnership is still not available and the companies are not too eager on talking about it. In a blog post, Nuro said that the companies will target delivery scenarios where the use of low-speed, unmanned vehicles will be highly beneficial. FedEx vice president for advanced technology and innovation, Rebecca Yeung said that this will really help cover inefficient tasks. “Late-night pickups from faraway places can become easier.” It must be noted that FedEx too has been working on developing autonomous vehicle technology. The parcel giant collaborated with DEKA Development & Research Corp to develop a sidewalk delivery bot. The SameDay Bot was named Roxo. FedEx unveiled the bot for the first in the year 2019. It was equipped with multiple cameras and lidar that helped it to find a safe path by avoiding obstacles. SameDay Bot was also capable of following all the rules of the sidewalk or the road.
But the partnership with Nuro will allow FedEx to move away from the sidewalk and cover a larger distance on roads. R2 designed by Nuro is not only bigger but also made to operate on public roads. This will allow FedEx to carry even heavier parcels to farther distances. This is important for the company as handles around 18 million packages in a single day. Also, Nuro has been developing this technology for the past five years. More than a year ago, the US Department of Transportation exempted Nuro to operate its driverless pod on public roads. These things make Nuro a preferred partner for FedEx. Also, Nuro has already partnered with some companies like CVS Pharmacy and Domino’s Pizza. But the partnership with FedEx will definitely take to a completely different level.