October has been a rough month for the last-mile delivery robot industry as Amazon called it quits on their six-wheeled robot “Scout” for home deliveries. Now FedEx is doing the same.
Robotics 24/7 has obtained an internal memo written by Sriram Krishnasam, chief transformation officer at FedEx, who told employees its last-mile delivery robot, Roxo, will be scaled back.
“Although robotics and automation are key pillars of our innovation strategy, Roxo did not meet necessary near-term value requirements for DRIVE,” Krishnasam wrote in the memo. “Although we are ending the research and development efforts, Roxo served a valuable purpose: to rapidly advance our understanding and use of robotic technology.”
FedEx launched Roxo in 2019 in collaboration with DEKA Research and Development Corp. The robot uses multiple sets of wheels to traverse steps and obstacles while hauling up to 100 pounds. It navigates sidewalks and city streets using cameras and LIDAR sensors. Human operators can intervene with remote controls if need be.
“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.”
FedEx and Amazon are some of the largest shippers moving packages around the country and the world. When these two companies simultaneously decide to axe their last-mile delivery robots, it indicates the program has been a complete and utter failure. This is excellent news for the humans working at FedEx, Amazon, UPS, USPS, Uber Eats, Instacart, and other last-mile companies that your jobs will be safe for now. However, when the Federal Aviation Administration clears airspace for delivery drones, that could be a different story but won’t happen at scale until the end of this decade.