FedEx expands its autonomous commercial line-haul trucking pilot

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FedEx Corp has expanded its pilot program with self-driving vehicle technology company Aurora Innovation to autonomously move FedEx shipments on an additional commercial lane in Texas.

In March 2022, Aurora’s autonomous trucks – based on the Peterbilt 579 vehicle – began to transport FedEx shipments between Aurora’s terminals in Fort Worth and El Paso in Texas. Currently, Aurora makes the 965km trip weekly with safety drivers on board; it expects to increase the frequency of trips in the coming months. Aurora also continues to move shipments for FedEx between its South Dallas terminal and its new Houston terminal daily.

FedEx decided to create an additional commercial lane because the trial demonstrated the technology’s ability to provide a reliable, efficient line-haul solution to help address the increasing demand for the quick transportation of shipments in a challenging labor market. The two companies pointed out that since the commercial pilot began in September 2021, Aurora’s deliveries of FedEx shipments between Dallas and Houston have been 100% on time. To date, the companies have completed 96,500km with zero safety incidents. Furthermore, Aurora’s self-driving technology product – the Aurora Driver – can move trailers for FedEx in a variety of weather conditions and at all hours of the day and night, optimizing fleet utilization.

Rebecca Yeung, corporate vice president of operations science and advanced technology at FedEx Corporation, said, “Innovation is in our DNA – our culture drives us to think radically and differently, finding new ways to use technology to enhance safety, improve our operations, empower our team members and help our customers succeed. Aurora has been a like-minded collaborator, helping us learn from and grow our autonomous trucking solutions. We look forward to our continued work together as we test further integration of autonomous technology into our operations to build a collaborative, robust network of solutions to respond to growing customer demand.”

Sterling Anderson, co-founder and chief product officer at Aurora, said, “Some time ago, I was asked why the general public should care about autonomous trucking. This is why. In six months of working with FedEx, we’ve safely, reliably and efficiently transported packages for tens of thousands of FedEx customers. This lane expansion came ahead of schedule and we’re delighted to continue building the future of trucking with one of the country’s biggest and most important transportation companies.”

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