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Transport and logistics provider, FedEx, is reportedly investing in self-driving technology with robotic artificial intelligence to enhance its delivery services.
According to FedEx Chief Information Officer, Rob Carter, the automated technology will make an appearance in the shipping giant’s near future.
In an interview with MIT Technology Review, Carter revealed that FedEx is the early stages of developing the ‘Alexa app’. The artificial intelligence app, developed by American electronic commerce and cloud computing company Amazon, enables consumers to initiate shipments from FedEx by simply talking to a smart device by using commands such as “Alexa, prepare a shipment.”
“You [will be able to] just talk your way through and [Alexa will] ask the right questions to make sure you’ve completed the work and then you can expect a truck to roll up to the front door of your office, pick up the shipments, and move them along,” Carter told MIT Technology Review.
Carter also said FedEx is also researching ways to further automate the way it transports packages, and is working with start-up Peloton Technology, whose semi-autonomous platooning technology is set to be released in late 2017.
FedEx has partnered with several truck manufacturers that are developing autonomous trucking technology, such as Volvo and Daimler’s Freightliner division, with Carter telling MIT that he expects to see “significant implementations” of automated vehicles in the shipping industry in the next decade, though he did not state when FedEx might adopt semi- or fully autonomous trucks.
In regards to drone technology, Carter stated that due to the “limited capacity” of drones designed for delivery – most can carry only small weights, have short flight times and are subject to every-increasing use restrictions – therefore, he said it’s unlikely FedEx will be using the technology anytime soon.