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Telepresence Robot Crosses Atlantic Seven Times Trying to Get Home (fedex.com)
68 points by 11thEarlOfMar 839 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 17 comments

Finally Delivered...

The package is a QB robot from Anybots. It's on it's way home from London to San Jose (we thought) for an upgrade. Over the last 18 days, FedEx has literally flown it across the Atlantic 7 times.

The sender inadvertently reversed the Sender and Receiver on the waybill, and was advised to 'just put arrows between the two, it happens all the time'. It got as far as San Jose distribution, who apparently missed the arrows and shipped it right back to London. Since then, and in spite of literally dozens of phone calls, this guy has been racking up frequent flyer miles.

QB in action: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mz4FshiMu3U

Interestingly, based on the fastest crossing of the Atlantic by ship, the same feat would take just over 24 days by sea using a transatlantic liner (which don't really exist anymore as they were obsoleted by the 747 and replaced by cruise ships). Of course it's not in any way a direct comparison because one flight across would take <8 hours, but I just figured the crossing by sea would take much longer. By sail it would depend on the boat - 19 days for a small vessel averaging 5 knots a day, a week for a larger one averaging 12 knots, and 3.5 days for a racing trimaran doing 30 knots.

Ah, this reminds me of a test parcel that inadvertently got shipped by a client - it had our company name (mis-spelled) and the city it's in on it, and Uruguay as the country (we're UK based). Nothing else.

The thing went to Uruguay, to the US (same city name), to Australia (ditto), to the UK, back to Australia, back to Uruguay, to the UK again, to Spain and Germany (think it wanted a holiday), and finally showed up on our doorstep 18 months later, thoroughly mangled, covered in scrawls by bemused postal workers.

Hell, you can't fault them for trying, and I was impressed it ultimately reached us - and that its 40,000 odd mile journey cost the grand sum of £2.95.

Makes me think physical packets needs a TTL or something.

Pretty sure physical packets get dropped at every hop!

If I'm understanding this correctly and it is just a package shipment being re-directed 7 times, I would say that the title is misleading. At first I thought that a (flying?) robot was actually crossing the ocean 7 times by itself, with some sort of AI that was "trying to get home". That's a far more interesting story.

The real story is that if you want the shipment to go where it needs to go you should reprint the waybill with the information on the correct lines.

Screenshot in the event the listing gets removed:


Reminds me of this Austrian problem: http://fashion.onblog.at/bilder/201108/missent-to-australia....

Common enough that they have preprinted stickers.

The converse is likewise common enough that they too have pre-printed stickers. https://photos.travelblog.org/Photos/4167/29805/f/148243-No-...

Weirdest shipping experience I've had was a DHL package to a relative in Khabarovsk, Russia (far east Russia, north-west tip of China). Package was shipped USA to Germany to Moscow where it was turned around, shipped back to USA where it puttered around for a couple days before finally heading east to Khabarovsk via Japan. Apparently couldn't get to Khabarovsk from Moscow.

A developer friend of mine from Ukraine sent me some snail mail (I'm in NY) and it took somewhere around 8 months to arrive. I wasn't home when it was delivered and they left a note on my door to pick it up at the post office (I thought it was a mistake as I wasn't expecting anything).

Anyway, I was in the middle of moving and misplaced the note and forgot about it for some time. When I went to the post office I was informed that it was mailed back to the sender since I did not pick it up in time. It has been a few years and my friend never received the returned package.

In the US we are pampered - our internal mail is orders of magnitude more reliable than most anywhere else.

Anecdote: my brother mailed photos to his in-laws in Bangalore. The in-laws never got the package, but they found local children carrying the pictures around as novelties.

I had a similar thing happen, though on a much smaller scale. I used to have to send letters that needed tracking & delivery confirmation and for whatever reason fedex was the cheapest. An evenlope I shipped from Queens, NY to Brooklyn, NY went back & forth from Memphis twice in three days before ending up at its destination.

Is this a corner-case of their shipping algorithms? Is this the kind of problem that supposedly get you millions of dollars if you manage to solve it?



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