The Fuse

This Week in AVs: FedEx to Trial Driverless Deliveries in Texas; AV Insiders Temper Self-Driving Expectations; and More

by Kristen Hernandez | April 15, 2019

FedEx to Experiment With Driverless Deliveries in Texas
FedEx will be testing its autonomous Same-Day Bots in Texas beginning in late July or early August. The tests, which will take place in parts of Frisco and Plano, will initially handle internal deliveries between a FedEx headquarters location and a FedEx retail location with an accompanying chaperone. If these tests go well, the bots could expand to other fixed routes, such as delivering products from Lowe’s stores to construction sites, and eventually to on-demand deliveries of a variety of goods. FedEx is also testing this technology in Memphis, Tennessee and Manchester, New Hampshire. If deployed at scale, these delivery bots could cut down on congestion in cities and eliminate a subset of shopping trips from gas-guzzling cars, saving consumers both time and energy.

If deployed at scale, these delivery bots could cut down on congestion in cities and eliminate a subset of shopping trips from gas-guzzling cars, saving consumers both time and energy.

Tesla to roll out Enhanced Summon for U.S. owners, share more details on Tesla Network
Tesla CEO Elon Musk made multiple announcements surrounding the automaker’s autonomous features on Twitter over the past week. Last Saturday, Musk tweeted that Tesla’s Enhanced Summon feature would be coming to the U.S. “next week” for any customer who had purchased Enhanced Autopilot or the Full Self-Driving option. This feature allows Tesla vehicles to autonomously navigate through parking lots to find the driver under certain conditions. Additionally, Musk tweeted that Tesla’s autonomous ridesharing service (called Tesla Network) would be explained in further depth at an investor event on April 22. The network, intended to compete with Uber and Lyft, would allow Tesla owners to earn money through loaning their vehicle to a shared autonomous fleet.

Ford CEO, Uber Chief Scientist Tamp Down Expectations for First Autonomous Vehicles
Representatives of both Uber and Ford said this week that autonomous vehicles may have more limited initial deployments than previously expected. Raquel Urtasun, a chief scientist in Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group, said that it would take a long time for the technology to scale and that there will remain a mix of human-driven and driverless cars on the road a decade from now. Meanwhile, Ford CEO Jim Hackett said that Ford’s first self-driving car, while still slated for deployment in 2021, will initially be geofenced. Though companies continue to push back the time frame for autonomous vehicle deployment, they remain optimistic about the significant impact the technology will have on society. Urtasun said that, “self-driving cars are going to be in our lives” and Hackett claimed that, “when we bring this thing to market, it’s going to be really powerful.”

BMW signs agreement with DXC Technology to accelerate driverless car development via D3 platform
DXC Technology, an IT services company, will support BMW’s self-driving efforts through assistance with the automaker’s High Performance D3 platform. This platform gathers massive amounts of data from BMW’s autonomous test fleet. DXC will help reduce the time and cost of analyzing this data, as their services will allow BMW to cut data collection and management times to seconds rather than days or weeks. This will allow for faster development of autonomous driving. Ultimately, the agreement will help BMW reduce the cost of developing self-driving technology and potentially allow them to deploy earlier due to increased speed of data processing.