FedEx is calling it quits on its cute but mostly ineffective “Roxo” last mile autonomous delivery robot. The move comes just weeks after Amazon ended field tests and gutted the team working on its Scout delivery robot.
Sriram Krishnasamy, the package delivery giant’s Chief Transformation Officer, reportedly broke the news to staff of Roxo’s shattering last week as part of a broader internal organizational program called DRIVE, according to emails first obtained by Robotics 24/7.
“Although robotics and automation are key pillars of our innovation strategy, Roxo did not meet necessary near-term value requirements for DRIVE,” Krishnasamy reportedly 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.”
FedEx did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment but told Robotics 24/7 it’s shifting away from Roxo, in part, to focus on, “several nearer-term opportunities.” The company first started work on the sensor-filled 204 kg package robot in 2019 with help from New Hampshire-based DEKA Research and Development Corp. Until recently, FexEx expressed confidence Roxo could “solve a need for cost-effective and sustainable last-mile deliveries,” with use cases including auto parts, pizza, and grocery delivery.
Eve though the pandemic helped solidify and even increase consumers’ appetite for all things delivery, that shift somewhat counterintuitively hasn’t led to a proliferation of quirky named delivery robots. On the contrary, some of the most hyped delivery bots have been either scrapped or sidelined in recent years.
Last year Uber spun off Postamtes’ robot delivery project into its own separate startup as part of a larger effort to cut down its spending and achieve profitability. (Uber owns Postmates). Then, earlier this month, Amazon said it was scaling back efforts around its scout autonomous delivery robots. Though earlier reporting from Bloomberg claimed Scout and the roughly 400 employees working on this were being disbanded completely, an Amazon spokesperson told The Verge it still has a team dedicated to Scout. At the same time though, Uber Eats just signed a 10 year deal with autonomous vehicles maker Nuro to one day use a slightly larger self-driving pods to deliver goods to costumers in California and Texas.
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