FedEx Plans for Automated Planes & Expanding Return Capabilities

by | Oct 23, 2020

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FedEx Plans for Small Self-Flying Planes in Remote Areas

CEO Fred Smith recently shared plans to fly autonomous cargo planes to remote areas. The announcement comes amid an ongoing partnership with the carrier and Reliable Robotics (founded by veterans of Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corporation). Reliable Robotics began experimental flights in June and had a successful automated landing of a FedEx-owned Cessna 208 Caravan turboprop plane. 

Smith confirmed that there is no concern of the automated aircraft taking jobs away from current FedEx cargo pilots, as it will be decades before technology exists in this department to replace experienced large freight pilots. 

 

FedEx Expands Return Capabilities After Amazon Split

After eliminating its relationship with Amazon (and an estimated $900 million of business), FedEx announced plans to partner with startup Happy Returns to expand its drop-off capabilities for eCommerce returns in time for the busy holiday season. As part of the partnership, Happy Returns will accept items from 150 participating retailers at 2,000 FedEx Office locations starting at the end of October – giving them the second largest return network behind Amazon.  The eCommerce giant will still hold the largest return network of 7,500 locations through UPS, Kohl’s, and Whole Foods drop-offs. 

Vice President of FedEx Global eCommerce Marketing Ryan Kelly said, “I think about friction a lot… in the returns process… Happy Returns has a really elegant, frictionless process.” The hope is significant savings for retailers by cutting costs of returns at least 10% using Happy Returns’ technology and reusable totes.