Domino's Delivers Pizzas Autonomously in Houston
Domino’s has launched autonomous pizza delivery in Houston, Texas this week. Customers can choose to have their meal delivered by Nuro’s R2 robot. Nuro has the first completely autonomous on-road delivery vehicle approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Another One: FedEx Vows to Become Carbon Neutral by 2040
FedEx had kneeled before mankind, vowing to become a carbon-neutral business by 2040. That’s roughly eight years longer than it’ll probably take most of the population to forget that the promise was ever made. But this is the way of the world and we wager it won’t be long before it’s just easier to list the companies and governments that have not made informal, often empty commitments about the environment.
But, before we throw FedEx into the camp of blatant placation, let’s see what it actually has planned.
BrightDrop, General Motors' Shiny New Delivery Business
General Motors has rolled out BrightDrop, moving them further into the business of first-to-last-mile products, software, and services for delivery and logistics.
“BrightDrop offers a smarter way to deliver goods and services,” said Mary Barra, GM Chairman and CEO.
Getting Into the Game: Amazon Purchases AV Startup Zoox for an Undisclosed Sum
Always eager to slash delivery costs — especially if the government opts to stop subsidizing the company via the U.S. Postal Service — Amazon has been getting chummy with EV startups. It’s also begun exploring new business opportunities in regard to food delivery and ride hailing, resulting in sizable investments into both sectors.
On Friday, Amazon announced it will acquire California-based Zoox to help it further those goals. Coming off a staffing reduction of about 10 percent to contend with the pandemic, the company is currently focused on delivering an symmetrical, self-driving, zero-emissions vehicle that can compete on the currently nonexistent robo-taxi market. While the world’s 13th largest company (by revenue) seems like it would make good use of the property to advance its autonomous delivery program, corporate messaging seems to indicate Amazon is more interested in Zoox’s expertise in people moving.
Could Coronavirus Complications Make AVs More Popular?
As the coronavirus epidemic scares populations out of stores, transportation hubs, and stock markets, autonomous vehicles may be getting a leg up in China. Bloomberg reports that Neolix, an autonomous delivery company based in Beijing, has seen a surge in demand as people opt to stay home (or are forced into quarantined by the Chinese government). Founder Yu Enyuan said the startup has booked orders for more than than 200 autonomous delivery pods since knowledge of COVID-19 became public — noting it had only produced 125 units in the eight months leading up to that.
Thanks to being overhyped by an industry that wasn’t anywhere near as far along as claimed, autonomous vehicles haven’t earned a lot of love lately. Yet Neolix’s minor victory suggests they may have useful applications that previously went ignored. In the realm of humanoid robotics, the goal if often to design a platform that can successfully fill in for a living, breathing person when the surrounding environment becomes too dangerous. Why not for AVs?
Mahindra Examines 2nd Michigan Plant For Potential Postal Contract
Mahindra, the company that produces the intentionally Jeep-like Roxor, is looking at sites in Detroit, Oakland County, and Genesee County in the event that it lands a $6 billion contract to supply the U.S. Postal Service with delivery vehicles.
While USPS has already begun supplementing the now-ancient Grumman LLV with more-modern vans and utility vehicles, it launched an official search for a replacement in 2015. Mahindra was one of the finalists, along with AM General, Karsan, Oshkosh-Ford, Utilimaster, and VT Hackney.
The Postal Service plans on making a final decision this summer as to who will build some 180,000 replacement vehicles over the next six years.