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FedEx Partners with Nuro to Test Autonomous Delivery Vehicles

On Tuesday, FedEx announced a partnership with Nuro, one of the nation's leading autonomous vehicle companies, to test the use of driverless vehicles for multi-stop and appointment-based deliveries in Houston, Texas.

FedEx delivery truck - use once only
Shutterstock/Karolis Kavolelis
(TNS) — Soon the idea of having your packages delivered by a driverless vehicle won't seem so far-fetched.

On Tuesday, FedEx announced that it has partnered with Nuro, one of the nation's leading autonomous vehicle companies, to test the use of driverless vehicles for multi-stop and appointment-based deliveries in Houston, Texas.

"FedEx was built on innovation, and it continues to be an integral part of our culture and business strategy," said Rebecca Yeung, vice president, advanced technology and innovation, FedEx Corporation.

"We are excited to collaborate with an industry leader like Nuro as we continue to explore the use of autonomous technologies within our operations," Yeung added.

The deliveries will be made by Nuro's R2 vehicle, the first fully autonomous, driverless delivery vehicle to receive regulatory approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation to operate on public roads.

The R2 sports numerous innovative features that would not be possible with manually driven vehicles.

For example, the lack of side-view mirrors allows for smooth rounded contours, narrowing the size of the vehicle and allowing additional street space for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians.

Additionally, the lack of a front windshield allows for a "Pedestrian-Protecting Front End" that absorbs energy and is capable of collapsing inward in the case of a collision, limiting damage to anything struck by the vehicle.

"Working with FedEx — the global leader in logistics — is an incredible opportunity to rethink every aspect of local delivery. 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," said Cosimo Leipold, Nuro's head of partnerships.


While the partnership with FedEx marks Nuro's first step in parcel delivery, the company's driverless vehicles are already being tested in other capacities, including delivering pizza in Houston.

In April, Domino's, the world's largest pizza company, started offering autonomous pizza delivery services to select customers in Houston through a partnership with Nuro.

"There is still so much for our brand to learn about the autonomous delivery space. This program will allow us to better understand how customers respond to the deliveries, how they interact with the robot and how it affects store operations," said Dennis Maloney, Domino's senior vice president and chief innovation officer.

So how exactly does this driverless pizza delivery system work?

Customers who place a prepaid online order from Houston's Woodland Heights Domino's location during certain days and times will have the option of having their pizza delivered by the autonomous Nuro vehicle.

Those who are approved for the autonomous delivery will receive text message alerts updating them on the location of their delivery, and will be sent a unique PIN code to enter on the vehicle's touch screen, which will open the doors and allow the customer to retrieve their order from inside.

"There's been so much work over the years to arrive at this moment, and much of it isn't visible to the outside world — from designing and manufacturing a custom vehicle from scratch to testing every aspect of our software stack. All that quiet effort has culminated in something modest but important: getting delicious pizza delivered to real customers," said Nuro co-founder Dave Ferguson.

©2021 Staten Island Advance, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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