This holiday season, more New Yorkers will be seeing FedEx Express couriers pushing a four-wheeled electric cart on city sidewalks.
The e-carts, as the logistics company calls them, are part of an expanded pilot program aimed at improving deliveries in major metropolitan areas. The e-carts used in the expanded pilot are from BrightDrop, a technology startup from GM looking to decarbonize last-mile delivery.
According to FedEx, the BrightDrop “Trace” e-carts are helping the company’s couriers make deliveries in five locations in New York City — the Theatre District, Midtown, Midtown East and Brooklyn Heights — expanding on an initial test in Manhattan’s Diamond District last year.
Here’s how the carts work. Workers pre-sort and load each cart at local FedEx stations. Then, e-carts are dropped off with foot couriers at locations along their route. Next, couriers make deliveries on foot with the enclosed e-carts, and finally, empty carts are picked up and taken back to the station to restart the process.
FedEx said that the e-carts are helping couriers operate with more “efficient routes” and have the potential to help “reduce vehicle idling” and redistribute delivery activity away from the curb, with the hope of alleviating bottlenecks on high-traffic streets.
In the previous limited Manhattan pilot, FedEx couriers increased the number of total stops and stops made per hour when using the e-carts versus operations without them — a win for couriers, customers and drivers battling road congestion, FedEx added.
Michael Salerno, a FedEx Express senior station operations manager in Manhattan, added in a statement that the company “hopes to shape what the future of efficient urban delivery could look like” with the growth of this program.
This expansion comes as FedEx prioritizes a more efficient network and works towards its goal of carbon neutral operations globally by 2040, the company is on a mission to match operational needs with the right technology in the right environment.
With the routes included in the e-cart courier pilot now covering more than seven walking miles across the two boroughs, FedEx said it hopes to gain more learnings from operating the units in urban environments and help policymakers envision the future of last-mile delivery in an evolving urban mobility landscape.
FedEx Express has also worked with BrightDrop to incorporate new electric vehicles into its network, the first 150 of which are out delivering to customers this season in Southern California.