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Even the mere appearance of a FedEx delivery robot freaks out the mayor of NYC

Even the mere appearance of a FedEx delivery robot freaks out the mayor of NYC
[Photo: courtesy of FedEx]

The tech industry’s perennial fantasy of replacing delivery workers with cutesy robots hasn’t quite panned out yet, but that didn’t stop FedEx from coming out with its own autonomous delivery machine and plopping one on a busy Manhattan sidewalk last week. The robot’s New York City debut was just a marketing stunt, but it caught the attention of city officials, who leaped at the chance to tell FedEx to screw off.

FedEx’s autonomous delivery robot was spotted near SoHo late last week as part of a press event to promote American Express’s “Small Business Saturday” campaign. The robot, which is named Roxo, only drew modest attention from passersby and press. (It’s New York City, after all.) But over the course of a couple days, FedEx landed itself a cease-and-desist order from the New York Department of Transportation, TechCrunch reports, as well as a threat from Mayor Bill de Blasio to “send them packing” if the city ever catches the robots in action without a special permit.

According to TechCrunch, FedEx is not actually testing the robots in New York, but the company says it has piloted them in Memphis, as well as Manchester, New Hampshire, and two Texas cities, Plano and Frisco. When it first announced the project last February, FedEx said it would work with companies like Pizza Hut, Target, Walgreens, and Walmart to “assess” their “autonomous delivery needs.”

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