FedEx had recently announced their partnership with aviation startup Reliable Robotics. Soon, pilotless cargo planes will be making deliveries as online commerce increasingly grows.
Reliable Robotics, co-founded by Robert Rose, former Senior Director of Autopilot at Tesla, and led teams at SpaceX and Google's X division. Co-founder Juerg Frefel formerly worked at SpaceX and helped develop the Dragon spacecraft and the Falcon 9 rocket.
Together, they believe that aircraft should fly themselves. The company is also developing automated aircraft to become safer, affordable, and widely available worldwide.
In 2018, they began flight tests with their pilotless Cessna 172 (C172) aircraft, carrying four passengers. Two years later, they've developed and began testing the Cessna 208 Caravan, a 14-seater plane.
Rose shared that "By bringing advanced automation to aviation, we will deliver higher safety, reliability, and convenience for cargo operators and eventually for passengers."
The company also has experts on robotics and medical devices. Their system enables users to efficiently utilize both the pilot and the aircraft with controls fully automated.
In 2017, FedEx announced that they would be purchasing 50 Cessna Caravan 208 (C208) aircraft. They plan to team up with Reliable Robotics' technology for the plane to be automatically run.
Robots and Drone Deliveries
However, it may take several years for FedEx's fleet to eventually become fully automated. For now, the existing crew does not need to worry about losing their work, shared FedEx CEO Fred Smith. Commercial airline founder David Neeleman believes that automated aircraft will be shifting the entire airline industry, and Reliable Robotics can become a pivotal player to the future of the new market.
Partnering with Reliable Robotics is one of FedEx's methods to reduce delivery costs. The corporation also partnered with Wing, a drone delivery service in Virginia. In 2019, FedEx began developing the FedEx SameDay Bot for same-day and last-mile deliveries in partnership with DEKA Development & Research Corp.
The bot is based on DEKA's iBot, and an automated wheelchair created initially by Johnson & Johnson's Independence Technology division. CEO Brian Philips of FedEx Office shared its excitement of introducing the bot for customer support and its future contributions to e-commerce.
Read Also: Drones Approved to Make US Home Deliveries
Amazon Prime Air
Amazon Prime had also announced investments in drone deliveries. On August 31 this year, the Federal Aviation Administration designated the company as an air carrier, allowing them to test run drone deliveries in the United States.
Vice President David Carbon shared that they envision the autonomous drone delivery service to be available for their customers worldwide. Their goal is for packages to be delivered to customers within 30 minutes.
The new delivery service is called Amazon Prime Air, where small drones can carry packages up to five pounds. Prime Air centers are currently being developed in the U.S, Austria, France, Israel, and the United Kingdom.
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