FedEx to test self-driving vehicles

Instead of a human wearing a purple and black uniform, a self-driving vehicle may someday come to pick up your FedEx shipment.

FedEx and robotics company Nuro announced a multi-year agreement to test autonomous vehicles in the package delivery company’s network.

They’ll pilot the program in Houston, where Nuro’s low-speed unmanned vehicles already make deliveries for Domino’s Pizza and supermarket chain operator Kroger. The R2 vehicle has space for cargo but not for a human driver.

Nuro says the partnership will target delivery scenarios that offer the “best bang for the buck.” FedEx says that will likely include sending out the vehicle for late-night pickups in remote places.

FedEx’s rival, UPS, is focusing on drones for unmanned deliveries instead of fully autonomous vehicles.

Parcel companies are racing to cut the cost of getting packages from the warehouse to its destination. Freight and logistics companies are exploring ways to roll out self-driving technology on predictable and simple routes because transporting people is proving more difficult than delivering packages and food.

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