Fedex drops Roxo to focus on ‘nearer-term opportunities’

Fedex had big plans for short-range last mile delivery when they announced their first autonomous delivery robot, Roxo, back in 2019. It was supposed to be battery-powered, with top speed of 10 mph, and being autonomous – steering itself around pedestrians and traffic using a combination of LIDAR sensors like those found in self-driving cars and regular cameras. Roxo was being developed in collaboration with DEKA, makers of the iBot wheelchair.

However, Fedex recently announced that it is dropping all plans for Roxo’s development to focus away from the bot to more ‘nearer-term opportunities’.

“Although robotics and automation are key pillars of our innovation strategy, Roxo did not meet necessary near-term value requirements for DRIVE. Although we are ending the research and development efforts, Roxo served a valuable purpose: to rapidly advance our understanding and use of robotic technology.”

Sriram Krishnasam, Chief Transformation Officer, Fedex

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.

Trials for Roxo were held in multiple locations including United States, United Arab Emirates and Japan.

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.

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