The accelerating e-commerce trend is placing more pressure on delivery and logistics companies to compete with the likes of Amazon.
That’s part of why FedEx is teaming with autonomous technology company Nuro Inc. to test autonomous vehicle delivery.
Autonomous bots could answer some of the ongoing speed, efficiency and labor challenges associated with parcel logistics.
FedEx and Nuro said Tuesday they will test “autonomous, multi-stop and appointment-based delivery” in Houston.
The “multi-year, multi-phase agreement” expands upon the companies’ existing pilot program launched in April in the city, marking Nuro’s first foray into the logistics realm. Under the latest agreement, FedEx will work with Nuro to test its next-generation autonomous delivery vehicle technology.
Nuro, founded by two former Google engineers in 2016, has been testing a variety of self-driving delivery projects with grocery, restaurants and pharmacies.
In April, Nuro partnered with Domino’s Pizza Inc. for robotic pizza delivery in Houston. Nuro also piloted an autonomous delivery service with Kroger and tested prescription delivery with CVS Pharmacy there.
“Working with FedEx — the global leader in logistics — is an incredible opportunity to rethink every aspect of local delivery,” Cosimo Leipold, Nuro’s head of partnerships, said in a statement. “This multi-year commitment will allow us to truly collaborate and bring Nuro’s powerful technology to more people in new ways, and eventually reach large-scale deployment.”
Meanwhile, FedEx has been developing its own delivery solutions via Roxo, its SameDay Bot.
Other companies have been exploring possibilities with self-driving delivery. Russian tech company Yandex, for example, has been testing its autonomous delivery bots in Ann Arbor, Mich. Self-driving truck company Gatik and commerce giant Walmart are also working on autonomous deliveries to a Walmart pickup point for customers.