FedEx Express yesterday announced the launched of the DoraSorter robot in collaboration with Dorabot Inc. The company said the artificial intelligence-powered sorting robot represents its latest push to digitize its operations and build a smart logistics network to handle growing volumes of e-commerce shipments in Asia.
“With e-commerce taking center stage in the future of retail in our region, the speed with which a parcel can be picked up and delivered to customers’ doorsteps has become a dominant factor in driving the adoption of sorting robots,” said Kawal Preet, president of the Asia Pacific, Middle East, and Africa (AMEA) region at FedEx Express. “Bringing DoraSorter to China as a pilot program is a natural choice for us given it’s the world’s biggest e-commerce market, with an expected valuation of $3.3 trillion by 2025.”
“As we look to build a data-driven, smart logistics network to help our customers thrive in the digital economy, this alliance with Dorabot is part of becoming the network for what’s next,” she added. “AI-powered technology will continue to change how we support customers in the region and enhance supply chains for the future.”
Founded in 2014, Dorabot develops warehouse automation using AI, computer vision, and deep learning. The Shenzhen, China-based company provides systems for induction, sorting, transportation, and loading in logistics, e-commerce, and manufacturing.
DoraSorter already at work in Guangzhou
FedEx Express, a subsidiary of FedEx Corp. and one of the world's largest express transportation companies, said its deployment of DoraSorter is the first of its kind in China. The company is using the sorting robot at the 5,200-sq.-m (55972.3-sq.-ft.) FedEx South China E-Commerce Shipment Sorting Center in Guangzhou.
DoraSorter is already part of daily sorting operations and ican handle small inbound and outbound packages from e-commerce customers in South China, said FedEx and Dorabot. The companies said the robot's core function of sorting parcels based on destination matches the sorting center's operation process.
FedEx and Dorabot said their teams are continuing to fine-tune DoraSorter and explore more application scenarios. The system's key features include:
- At approximately 40 m2 (43 sq. ft.), the robot can carry up to 10 kg (22 lb.) of packages, covering up to 100 destinations simultaneously.
- The robot has a special drawer-shaped gripper that can connect with the conveyor belt seamlessly.
- Equipped with a barcode reader that scans packages to obtain destination information, the robot uses its gripper to receive a package inward from the conveyor belt and moves it outward to the corresponding destination slot.
“The use of DoraSorter helps FedEx sort a higher volume of cross-border e-commerce shipments,” said Xiaobai Deng, founder and CEO of Dorabot. “It is the starting point of a global collaboration between Dorabot and FedEx. We hope that we can work together to bring AI and robotics applications to more businesses and consumers.”
Sky's the limit for supply chain automation
FedEx Express said its investment in warehouse automation echoes broader industry trends. The global COVID-19 pandemic has prompted logistics businesses to optimize operational efficiencies, from warehouse management to last-mile delivery. They need to cater to the soaring demand for e-commerce products, seasonal peaks, and consumers’ heightened expectations for fast delivery, it said.
The global warehouse automation market will reach $51 billion by 2030, projected McKinsey & Co. By 2025, more than 4 million commercial robots will be installed at more than 50,000 warehouses, according to ABI Research.
“Innovation is at our core and is a major factor behind FedEx strategy in China,” said Robert Chu, vice president of operations at FedEx China. “To meet customers’ changing needs, we have been exploring and investing in new technologies to enhance every key aspect of transportation.”
“The rapid rise in e-commerce has led to higher customer demand for timeliness and flexibility in logistics services, creating new challenges and opportunities for the entire logistics industry,” he said. “Our collaboration with Dorabot is our latest effort to improve operational efficiencies and build an agile logistics infrastructure through robotics technology that will support the growth of China’s e-commerce industry.”
FedEx continues to invest in innovation
FedEx has continued to investigate advanced technologies to streamline operations and help customers of all sizes in seize opportunities in the global market. Last October, FedEx teamed up with Neolix to test an autonomous delivery vehicle in China, and it is testing similar vehicles with Nuro LLC in Houston.
The company is also testing FedEx SameDay Bot, Roxo, in the AMEA region to explore the future of contactless, last-mile delivery. FedEx is working with Aurora Innovation Inc. on autonomous long-haul trucks and with Future Mobility Campus Ireland (FMCI) Air on drone deliveries.
In addition, it launched the SenseAwareID sensor-based logistics device, which is designed to enhance tracking precision, reliability, and timely delivery of critical shipments such as pharmaceuticals and emergency medical supplies.
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