Memphis announces new autonomous vehicle program, smart routing for transit


TML Communications Specialist

Known as a transportation hub and the home of shipping giant FedEx, the city of Memphis is exploring new ways to use technology to seamlessly and efficiently deliver city services, people, and traffic throughout its sprawling 324 square miles.

Memphis has partnered with San Jose, Calif.-based technology company Extreme Networks, Inc., to roll out autonomous trucks and an intelligent routing system transporting both citizens and goods to enhance transit and the city’s network infrastructure. 

The autonomous vehicle roll-out is part of a larger partnership between the city and Extreme Networks to give Memphis a Smart City advantage.  The company will be providing the city with switching, management, and analytics technology as well as a simplified network management, meeting the city’s growing bandwidth demands, and supporting new technologies as they come online.  Another one of the first projects between the city and the company will enable AI-powered IP cameras at 27 community centers to provide real-time detection. 

Extreme Networks Vice President of Product Marketing Abby Strong said the partnership lays the foundation for Memphis to continue to develop as a Smart City.

“The city of Memphis is already making impressive strides in its smart city initiatives, deploying AI-powered IP cameras in dozens of community centers to improve safety and communications,” she said. “But it’s just the tip of the iceberg. With a secure, automated network at its core, Memphis has laid the fabric across the city to create new, tech-driven experiences and achieve greater efficiencies and quality of life for its citizens.”

Memphis Chief Information Officer Michael Rodriguez said the goal of the partnership is for Memphis to use emerging technology to tackle the city’s challenges and improve quality of life for its residents and city employees.

“The city’s vision is to use technology to tackle some of our most difficult challenges, from pollution and traffic to health and public safety,” he said. “As we move toward that future, we need a robust, secure, software-driven infrastructure that can interface with third-party solutions, and provide a path to automation. The solutions that Extreme provides will be instrumental in making our city one of the smartest in America.”

The partnership between Memphis and Extreme Networks is just one of several partnerships rolled out in recent years to give the city a technological edge. 

Last year, FedEx partnered with the University of Memphis to launch a program offering FedEx employees tuition-free degrees as part of the Learning inspired by FedEx (LiFE) program. The fully-online degree program was launched last August through UofM Global.  In 2016, FedEx also offered research awards totaling $182,000 for 13 innovative research proposals for projects dealing with drones, autonomous vehicles, and robotics at the university.

FedEx announced earlier this year it was using Memphis as one of several cities to pilot same-day delivery robotics technology.  The company brought the robot to a city council meeting to discuss how they were partnering with retailers including Walmart, Walgreens, Target, Pizza Hut, Lowe’s, and AutoZone as part of the program launching this summer