As it gears up for holiday delivery crunch time, FedEx needs a few extra hands—and some of them are going to be robotic. It’s also summoning the help of smart cameras and Bluetooth-linked pods, with wheeled and winged drones in the works, too.
The Memphis-based shipping giant staged an online briefing recently for media to go over these technology initiatives and explain what’s accelerated its turn to robotic help. Yes, this is another thing you can blame on the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’ve been in peak since the start of the pandemic,” said chief information officer Rob Carter at the start of the webcast. The holiday delivery season, he continued, will “add peak on peak.”
FedEx’s Memphis hub now features four 260-pound robotic arms that do some of the most repetitive work in the facility: sorting and moving packages—1,200 to 1,300 of them an hour—from a bin to a conveyor belt. Each robot, made by Yaskawa America, uses its own cameras and four…