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FedEx partners with Walmart, Pizza Hut to test last-mile delivery robot

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FedEx Corp this summer plans to begin testing a robot to handle home deliveries for partners ranging from Walmart Inc to Pizza Hut.

Shippers, retailers and restaurants are experimenting with robots, drones and self-driving cars in a bid to use automation to drive down the high cost of delivering gadgets, groceries and even cups of coffee the “last mile” to consumer doorsteps.

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FedEx is teaming up with DEKA Development & Research Corp, whose founder Dean Kamen invented the Segway stand-up scooter and iBot stair-climbing wheelchair, for its project. The delivery company said the robots could become part of its SameDay service that operates in 1,900 cities around the world.

The battery-powered robots look like coolers on wheels. Cameras and software help them detect and avoid obstacles as they roam sidewalks and roadways at a top speed of 10 miles (16 km) per hour.

The project must win approval in test cities, including the shipper’s hometown of Memphis, and the first deliveries will be between FedEx office stores.

On average, more than 60 percent of merchants’ customers live within three miles of a store location. FedEx said it is working with its partners, which also include AutoZone Inc and Target Corp, to determine if autonomous delivery to them is a viable option for fast, cheap deliveries.

The “last mile” to the home accounts for 50 percent or more of total package delivery costs. Restaurants pay third-party delivery companies like Uber Eats, DoorDash and GrubHub commissions of 10-30 percent per order.

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Investors and companies are pouring millions of dollars into projects aimed at lowering those costs and overcoming regulatory hurdles. For safety reasons, many states want autonomous vehicles to have humans as emergency backup drivers.

Starship Technologies, which has raised more than $40 million in venture funding, last year deployed robots to deliver packages in the San Francisco Bay Area.

In January, it teamed up with French food service company Sodexo to take Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts and Blaze Pizza orders to the 40,000 students at George Mason University’s Fairfax, Virginia, campus. That service costs $1.99 per order.

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Amazon.com is testing its own delivery robot dubbed “Scout”.

FedEx rival United Parcel Service Inc is not testing robots – but like FedEx and Amazon, it is experimenting with drone deliveries.

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Other tests include tie-ups between grocery seller Kroger Co and self-driving car startup Nuro, as well as DoorDash and General Motors Co’s Cruise Automation.

Reporting by Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall


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Internet slams ‘disgusting’ Donald Trump Jr. after he skates for killing endangered Mongolian sheep

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According to new reports, Donald Trump Jr. illegally shot and killed an endangered argali sheep on a taxpayer-funded hunting trip in Western Mongolia in August — and the Mongolian government retroactively gave him a permit rather than tread on the toes of the U.S. government.

The report was met with outrage on social media, with commenters blasting Trump Jr.'s bloodthirst for endangered animals and the wealth and privilege that allowed him to kill them with no accountability. Some even compared it to the right-wing outrage about Hunter Biden being given a free position on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma.

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Roman Polanski blames Harvey Weinstein for rape accusation and says media ‘making me a monster’

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Film director Roman Polanski has spoken out for the first time since another woman accused him of rape, declaring that the media are "trying to make me into a monster".

And in an extraordinary twist he blamed Harvey Weinstein for his woes, in an interview with Paris Match magazine published Wednesday.

He claimed the disgraced Hollywood mogul tried to brand him a "child rapist" to stop him winning an Oscar in 2003 for "The Pianist".

Polanski -- a fugitive from US justice since 1978 after he admitted the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl -- also dismissed the latest rape allegations against him as "absurd".

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‘This is a lie’: Lisa Page pummels Trump for telling blatant falsehoods about her at crazed rally

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Former FBI attorney Lisa Page on Wednesday called out President Donald Trump for once again lying about her at one of his political rallies.

On Tuesday night, Trump told supporters in Pennsylvania that Page supposedly had to file a restraining order against former FBI agent Peter Strzok, with whom she'd had a relationship during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Trump hedged his claim by telling his supporters, "That's what I heard, I don't know if it's true."

Page, however, took to Twitter to shred the president for repeating a blatant falsehood.

"This is a lie," she wrote. "Nothing like this ever happened. I wish we had a president who knew how to act like one."

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