FedEx partners with Walmart, Pizza Hut to test last-mile delivery robot

(Reuters) – FedEx Corp. this summer plans to begin testing a robot to handle home deliveries for partners, ranging from Walmart Inc Pizza Hut.

A FedEx SameDay bone, which will be tested this summer by FedEx and partners, including Pizza Hut, Target and Walmart for same-day delivery in some cities, including Memphis, tennessee history center, USA, is shown in this handout photo February 26, 2019. Thank you FedEx/handout via REUTERS attention EDITORS – THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY are NOT SALES, NO ARCHIVE

Shippers, retailers and restaurants are experimenting with robots, drones and self-driving cars in an attempt to use automation to the high cost of the supply of gadgets, groceries and even cups of coffee the “last mile” of the consumer thresholds.

FedEx is working with DEKA Development & Research Corp, whose founder Dean Kamen the inventor of the Segway stand-up scooter and the iBot stair climbing wheelchair for her project. The delivery company said that the robots could become part of his SameDay service which operates in the 1,900 towns and cities all over the world.

The battery-powered robots seem to be coolers on wheels. Cameras and software that help them detect and avoid obstacles as they wander the pavements and roads at a top speed of 10 miles (16 km) per hour.

The project must win approval in test cities, including the sender’s hometown of Memphis, and the first deliveries will be between FedEx office stores.

On average, more than 60 percent of the dealers customers within three miles of a store location. FedEx said it is working with its partners, including AutoZone Inc. and Target Corp., to determine whether autonomous delivery to them is a viable option for fast, cheap deliveries.

The “last mile” of the house is good for 50 percent or more of the total packet delivery cost. Restaurants pay a third-party delivery companies such as Uber Eats, DoorDash and GrubHub commissions of 10-30% per order.

Investors and companies pouring millions of dollars into projects aimed at reducing costs and overcoming legal barriers. For reasons of safety, many states want to be autonomous vehicles need backup drivers.

Starship Technologies, which brought more than $40 million of venture capital in the past year used robots to deliver packages in the San Francisco Bay Area.

In January, together with the French food service company Sodexo to include Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts and Blaze Pizza orders to the 40,000 students at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, on the campus. That service costs $1.99 per order. is testing its own delivery robot named “Scout”.

FedEx rival United Parcel Service Inc is not the testing of robots – but such as FedEx and Amazon, is experimenting with drone deliveries.

Other tests include the tie-ups between grocery seller Kroger Co and self-driving car startup Nuro, as well as DoorDash and General Motors Co Cruise Automation.

Reporting by Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall

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