FedEx is stopping development of its last-mile delivery robot, Roxo. The news was first reported by Robotics 24/7, with FedEx confirming to the publication that the company would be shifting focus away from the bot to more “nearer-term opportunities.”
Roxo was announced in 2019 as a collaboration with DEKA, makers of the iBot wheelchair, which used multiple sets of wheels to “walk” up and down stairs, and raise its user from a sitting level to eye-height. Roxo also used multiple sets of wheels to climb steps and curbs. The robot had a top speed of 10mph, a cargo capacity of 100lbs (45kg), and was able to autonomously navigate around cars and pedestrians using cameras and LIDAR sensors. Human operators were used to oversee its movements and steer it manually if necessary.
Fedex’s chief transformation officer, Sriram Krishnasam, announced to staff this week that development of Roxo (part of an internal project named DRIVE) was shutting down.
“Although robotics and automation are key pillars of our innovation strategy, Roxo did not meet necessary near-term value requirements for DRIVE,” wrote Krishnasam, according to internal emails obtained by Robotics 24/7. “Although we are ending the research and development efforts, Roxo served a valuable purpose: to rapidly advance our understanding and use of robotic technology.”
Roxo had been trialled in various locations, including in the US, the United Arab Emirates, and Japan. FedEx said the robot was designed to travel in a three-to-five mile radius of local delivery centers, and previously said its “most advanced testing period” would be in 2021.
Roxo’s closure follows news earlier this month that Amazon is also stopping field tests of its last-mile delivery robot, Scout. Amazon said it’s not stopping development of the robot entirely but merely “scaling the program back.” The company said aspects of the program “weren’t meeting customers’ needs,” but didn’t go into detail as to why.