Small startups and logistics giants alike are working on how to use automated vehicle technology and robotics for delivery. Some have even accelerated their efforts, with mixed results, as the COVID-19 pandemic drove up demand for delivery.
But is the world — or the tech — ready for the mainstream?
TechCrunch has tapped three experts from FedEx, Refraction AI and Postmates to join our virtual stage at TC Sessions: Mobility 2020 to talk about the challenges and opportunities of using robots for delivery. TC Sessions: Mobility is a two-day conference scheduled for October 6 and October 7 that aims to bring together the best and brightest minds working on the future of transportation.
Matthew Johnson-Roberson, co-founder and CTO of Refraction AI; Ali Kashani, VP of Special Projects at Postmates; and Rebecca Yeung, VP of Advanced Technology & Innovation at FedEx will discuss the changing face of delivery, what it will take to make this technology commercially viable and whether the COVID-19 pandemic has changed their strategy.
Johnson-Roberson’s company, Refraction AI, came out of stealth on our stage last year. The Midwest-based startup, which developed a delivery robot that uses the bike lane, has been ramping up testing and operations in its home state of Michigan. Johnson-Roberson has worked in robotic perception since the first DARPA grand challenge, and is associate professor of robotics at the University of Michigan College of Engineering.
Kashani has co-founded several startups, including Lox, which was acquired by Postmates in 2017. When Kashani joined the company he launched Postmates X, which aimed to solve the economic and environmental dilemma of using vehicles to deliver food. His team came up with Serve, the robot that is now used to deliver food in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Yeung’s primary responsibility as VP of advanced technology is to accelerate innovation in the autonomous vehicles and robotics space and use it to improve FedEx’s operations and customer experience. Yeung has more than 20 years of experience in emerging technology, strategy, marketing and business development. She is the lead officer for FedEx’s same-day robot known as Roxo. She also oversees key autonomous vehicle and robotics initiatives at the enterprise level, evaluating emerging technologies to inform R&D investments.
In case you hadn’t heard, TC Sessions: Mobility 2020 is virtual this year. The virtual version of TC Sessions: Mobility will bring all of what you’d expect from our in-person events, from the informative panels and provocative one-on-one interviews to the networking and this year, even a pitch-off session. This year, we’re also holding Q&A sessions following several of the panels, allowing ticketholders to submit questions to the panelists.
We want TC Sessions: Mobility to be accessible to as many people as possible, so we’ve created a range of pass levels to fit just about every budget. Prices start at $25 for the Expo ticket and students can attend for $50. We also have discounts for groups. Or buy an Early-Stage Startup Exhibitor Package to claim a spot in our expo before we run out of space!