UPS jumps onto the tech bandwagon

… with electric trucks and self-driving vehicles:

I remember way back in the day doing a report with the local UPS distribution center. Some of those drivers are making 6 figures. UPS would love nothing more than to get rid of them and have a computer do the job for free.

1 Like

For sure!
UPS drivers are Teamsters Union members, so their salaries are good.
By contrast, FedEx treats its drivers as independent contractors, and gets away with paying them much less.

But, I heard a rumor that FedEx and UPS are going to merge, and their new name will be FedUp.


Even if the self driving feature doubles the price of the delivery truck, that extra cost up front is probably about what a delivery driver makes in a year or two. Add a robot to get packages from the van to the door, and add another $50k- $100k. Payback is still fast. That’s quite an incentive to get the system up and running.

1 Like

FedEx ground drivers are form 1099 contractors while Express drivers are employees but they are non union in most locations. In my opinion 1099 contract labor has become share cropper work of the 21st century. For several years I was a contracted 1099 owner operator for a parcel delivery service and made a good income but the pay isn’t always good and for many who went into debt buying a truck and paying for insurance then gasoline, oil changes etc they were earning less than a 40 hour minimum wage job while working 60 to 70 hours. I understand that FedEx Ground, Uber and Lyft have many drivers in that situation.

@Rod_Knox The situation with FedEx reminds me of my days in the late 1940s through the mid 1950s at a country school where the bus drivers were independent contractors who owned their own buses. I had a colleague years later who grew up in another part of the state. His parents bought a farm in the 1950s and a school bus and bus route were included in the sale of the farm. My colleague’s mother became a bus driver.
When the school bus was too old to be in service transporting students, the body was removed from the chassis, a truck cab was purchased from a salvage yard and a grain bed was built on the chassis. The bus body that was removed became a tool shed or a chicken coop.

1 Like

I’m not sure how many Uber or Lyft drivers use this work as primary income, but I suspect a large portion, probably the majority, use it as second income. I had a Lyft ride on a business trip in NJ from a 50-ish woman in a Lincoln SUV. We passed through what she identified as her neighborhood, and most of us would likely consider her rich. I certainly do. I got the impression that she used the income to pay their annual $20,000 or so real estate tax bill. Along the way, she pointed at houses and estimated taxes in the $30,000 range. Breathtaking. No, they were not 10,000 SF mansions on 10 acres, more like 4000 SF homes on an acre. Big homes to be sure, but 30 large for annual RE taxes? Gad zooks, man!

But for the many who beg and borrow from friends and relatives to get into a profitable situation only to find that they will never be able to clear enough to live any better than they did at their previous dead end jobs yet now owe a great deal of money the situation can look very bleak. And those who can find some success at Uber, FedEx, etc., at the end of the year they suddenly are hit with filing and paying taxes and self employment taxes added to income tax can be a tough hill to climb. Such jobs are like share croppers. The owner gets his cut off the top and the share cropper gets a small cut from what is left which was usually just enough to cover their debts and start a new year with nothing again.

1 Like

And Amazon (the leader in cloud computing) is getting into the delivery business to bypass Fex-Ex and UPS.

It seems a little strange for Amazon to have a delivery fleet to drive down my street and deliver a package just minutes after UPS or FEDEX has driven down the same street. The same goes for those small packages the Postal Service could deliver.

1 Like

Agree one time I had two package’s coming the same day Fedex brought one he could not have been more than a mile down the road when UPS showed up with the second one.

Cost. It’s cheaper for them to get their own fleet. Another reason was their new Same-Day delivery.

Yep. That’s why they’ve formed their own airline too. And they’re treating the airline kinda like Fedex treats its drivers. Someone else owns and flies the plane. Amazon pays them a set amount. Lets them avoid paying the shipping fees normal shippers want to charge.

And separate from that airline is their other airline, which is drone delivery. That’s in its infancy but it’s cleared some big hurdles already. Won’t be long before we see big monster drones buzzing around and landing in peoples’ yards. That program must have them really excited because there won’t even be remote pilots for them - the drones will fly themselves to and from their destinations.

The situation re parcel delivery is another unintended consequence of grand schemes by various government departments in dealing with corporate lobbyists while turning a blind eye to the greater situation. Fifty years ago it was illegal for any private company to deliver an envelope and each state and municipality had restrictions requiring limited access by a select few carriers. At one time for a carrier like UPS to deliver in any given city the freight would have been brought to the city by a licensed common carrier with a permit for that city and once there the parcel company could deliver it. It was a nightmare that resulted in a package being handled by numerous carriers that often criss-crossed each other repeatedly before getting to the destination. When people are told that FedEx carries virtually all Express freight to Memphis where it is sorted and shipped to the destination which more often than not the first plane flew over getting to Memphis they are amazed that such an inefficient process is used. But actually their system is much more efficient and obviously faster than the nightmare that once took weeks to get a package from Oakland to Salt Lake City at an outrageous cost.

Long ago when driving a local(in state) parcel truck a car dealership just a few miles across the Alabama state line could not get good service due to DOT requirements so someone decided to ship from Mississippi and address everything to a dealership employee’s Mississippi home and have all freight pre-paid. The packages were actually delivered to the dealership. A lot of freight got bootlegged that way over the years. And then when FedEx began to lobby for the rights to get into all states it resulted in virtually eliminating individual states restrictions on truck lines.

1 Like

And another reason is to offer end to end service to their clients that sell their goods on Amazon.

There’s a large Amazon fulfillment center on the other side of the city and I’m sure they would like to directly control shipping from the center to the customer.

Yeah and I’m sure they will cut their prices in half once they do this ? What are people going to do once every job has been automated ?

1 Like

Excellent question. It’s one of the biggest problems facing us today. I think auto repair is safe for a long while, but automation has certainly taken over auto manufacturing to a great degree.


Those folks in the big house need their grass cut and their cars washed and waxed and someone to drive the car… Fish are jumpin-and the cotton is high and will soon need picking. A return to the “good ole days” for sure.

1 Like

UPS uses high tech EVs (electric vehicles) to deliver all packages here for about 6-8 weeks every year when package volume is heavy, around the Christmas holiday time.

They drop a “Pod” (trailer without wheels) at the golf course pro shop and ship packages to the pod. Then a UPS driver equipped with an EV makes daily deliveries all the way around the golf course, to all the condos and villas.


I’m pretty sure that a robot could drive a golf cart, but even a human driver has trouble finding all the addresses, accessing elevators, and making deliveries. I’m not sure robots could do that here. Just in our “quad” of buildings, Amazon, USPS, FedEx, AC repairmen, etcetera, have problems finding everybody.
:palm_tree: :sunglasses: :palm_tree:

Robots don’t have to deliver to your door if you are in a multiple residence building. They can put them near the entrance, possibly in a locker and provide a code for you to unlock and retrieve your package. That’s already done in large cities. I imagine that your snail mail is delivered to a kiosk and not to your door in a multi residence condo.

1 Like