Dexterity AI and FedEx Collaborate to Develop Truck Loading Robot

The companies said AI-powered technology is the first of its kind and handles the toughest parcel-handling challenge.

Dexterity AI

Dexterity AI and FedEx are developing two-armed robotic truck loading.
Dexterity AI and FedEx are working to give the DexR system the perception, manipulation, and decision-making abilities for complex parcel handling.

While robots have become more common in warehouses and distribution centers, certain tasks have been challenging to automate. Dexterity Inc. yesterday announced that it is collaborating with FedEx Corp. to apply artificial intelligence and robotics to the loading of boxes into trucks and trailers.

“Our culture of innovation is driven by a desire to help our team members and customers succeed,” stated Rebecca Yeung, corporate vice president of operations science and advanced technologies at FedEx, in a release.

“Based on feedback from our operations team, we have been looking for a solution that helps alleviate the challenges of truck loading,” she said. “Collaborating with Dexterity AI to combine the latest in AI and robotics supports our operations team while meeting growing customer demand.”

Dexterity AI takes on truck loading

Truck loading has long been one of the most challenging tasks in parcel hubs, noted Dexterity AI. Manual loading is physically taxing, and previous technology approaches have not been able to conduct the complex decision making required to stack the wide range of sizes, shapes, weights, and packaging materials in FedEx's shipping network.

Redwood City, Calif.-based Dexterity said its “full-stack” systems include intelligent robots with human-like dexterity to automate repetitive tasks. The company claimed that they enable employees to focus on higher-level, cognitive work in unpredictable environments.

Dexterity said its intelligence suite gives mobile robots “the ability to to see, touch, think, and move quickly to pack trailers with stable, dense walls of randomized boxes.” Its proprietary DexR platform is designed to navigate autonomously to the back of trailers and connect to a powered conveyor system that feeds the robot boxes directly from the sortation system.

DexR’s two-arm design enables the robot to pick and pack boxes simultaneously, improving throughput, said the company.

Dexterity AI truck loading robot

Schematic of DexR truck-loading system. Source: Dexterity AI

DexR offers perception, smarts, and agility

Dexterity added that its AI platform uses a broad set of intelligence, so it can be used to handle the complexities of truck-loading operations. It asserted that the platform's “unique” characteristics include:

  • Generative wall planning: With every new box presented to the DexR, Dexterity said its AI software takes 500 milliseconds or less to assess billions of wall-build possibilities to pack trailers with tight, stable walls.
  • A sense of touch: Dexterity AI-powered force control gives robots a sense of touch so they know how to gently nudge boxes together in creating tightly packed walls.
  • Machine learning-based pack improvement: Machine learning helps ensure that with every box picked, the Dexterity AI software becomes more efficient in handling a broader range of packing challenges.
  • Integrated motion planning: By integrating its own trajectory and motion planning, the Dexterity AI platform can help the DexR’s two robot arms move quickly inside trailers without colliding with each other or the truck walls.

FedEx said it is testing the truck-loading technology to refine the technology and eventually deploy it commercially. The Memphis, Tenn.-based company has annual revenue of nearly $90 billion and more than 500,000 employees.

“FedEx shares our belief that innovation should solve the most difficult tasks in operations,” said Samir Menon, founder and CEO of Dexterity AI. “Our collaboration is driven by a vision of AI-powered robotics that is adaptable to our customer’s most pressing needs.”

The official unveiling of the AI-powered truck-loading robotics took place at the companies' “Unlock the Dock” joint event in San Francisco on Sept. 26.

In other truck-loading news, Tennessee Congressman Steve Cohen last week announced that the National Science Foundation awarded $999,746 to Memphis-based Dextrous Robotics Inc. for a project titled “Automated Perception for Robotic Chopsticks Manipulating Small and Large Objects in Constrained Spaces.”

The global market for automated truck loading systems could expand from $2.72 billion in 2023 to $5.37 billion by 2030 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.8%, according to Fortune Business Insights. It noted that the integration of AI is improving capabilities and driving that growth.

Dexterity AI announced a collaboration with FedEx to use AI-powered robotic technology to load boxes into trucks and trailers.

Email Sign Up

Get news, papers, media and research delivered
Stay up-to-date with news and resources you need to do your job. Research industry trends, compare companies and get market intelligence every week with Robotics 24/7. Subscribe to our robotics user email newsletter and we'll keep you informed and up-to-date.

Dexterity AI

Dexterity AI and FedEx are developing two-armed robotic truck loading.

Robot Technologies