By Cesareo Contreras / www.robotics247.com / October 7th, 2022
Two major U.S. companies are cutting back on their robotic last-mile delivery efforts.
FedEx Corp. is shutting down its robotic same-day delivery service, according to an internal memo obtained by Robotics 24/7. In an e-mail sent to FedEx employees this week, Sriram Krishnasam, chief transformation officer at FedEx, said the company was eliminating Roxo, the FedEx Sameday Bot, as part of an internal organizational program called DRIVE. Amazon.com Inc. also announced this week that it is scaling back its own robot delivery service.
“Although robotics and automation are key pillars of our innovation strategy, Roxo did not meet necessary near-term value requirements for DRIVE,” Krishnasam wrote. “Although we are ending the research and development efforts, Roxo served a valuable purpose: to rapidly advance our understanding and use of robotic technology.”
In an e-mailed statement to Robotics 24/7, a FedEx representative confirmed that the company is stepping back from the program as it focuses on “several nearer-term opportunities.”
Memphis, Tenn.-based FedEx launched Roxo in 2019 in collaboration with DEKA Research and Development Corp. Roxo was based on DEKA’s iBot electric wheelchair. The robot has been used to make same-day deliveries and is able to navigate sidewalks, bike lanes, and roadways. The robot was being piloted across the U.S. and overseas, most recently with trials in Dubai.
“We are immensely proud of our role in working with DEKA to advance this cutting-edge technology that has put it on the path to future implementation, and we remain committed to exploring last mile innovations that align with our business strategy,” the company said. “The collaboration with DEKA has been outstanding, and we will continue to explore compelling opportunities arising from the technologies we have developed together.”
Amazon's Scout program winding down
FedEx isn’t the only major U.S. company re-evaluating its robotic delivery efforts. Amazon has also decided to scale back its Scout robotic delivery program. In a statement shared with The Verge, Amazon spokesperson Alisa Carroll said the company is ending field testing of Scout but will continue to have a team dedicated to its development.
Like FedEx, the Seattle-based e-commerce retailer launched Scout in 2019 and was testing it in several cities throughout the U.S.
The market for last-mile delivery robots is certainly a competitive space, with players such as Starship Technologies Inc., Nuro, Coco, and Kiwibot continuing to expand into new locations. While Starship let go of 11% of its team in June, Stratis Research has predicted that the market will be worth $123 billion by 2030.
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