FedEx is developing an autonomous delivery robot that will help retailers and restaurants make same-day deliveries within a specific range of miles from FedEx locations. With the FedEx SameDay Bot, stores will be able to accept small-item orders from customers close by and send the bot directly to their homes or offices by end of day.
FedEx has already announced partnerships with AutoZone, Lowe’s, PizzaHut, Target, Walgreens and Walmart. The bot is not meant to completely take over a store’s delivery system, but merely aid and optimize the process.
“The FedEx SameDay Bot is an innovation designed to change the face of local delivery and help retailers efficiently address their customers’ rising expectations,” said Brie Carere, executive vice president and chief marketing and communications officer for FedEx. “The bot represents a milestone in our ongoing mission to solve the complexities and expense of same-day, last-mile delivery for the growing e-commerce market in a manner that is safe and environmentally friendly.”
To develop the FedEx SameDay Bot technology, FedEx is collaborating with Deka Development & Research Corp. which was founded by Dean Kamen, inventor of the iBot Personal Mobility Device and the Segway.
“The bot has unique capabilities that make it unlike other autonomous vehicles,”said Kamen. “We built upon the power base of the iBot, an advanced, FDA-approved, mobility device for the disabled population with more than 10m hours of reliable, real-world operation. By leveraging this base in an additional application, we hope that the iBot will become even more accessible to those who need it for their own mobility.”
Multiple features from the iBot have been implemented into the FedEx bot, including pedestrian-safe technology. The zero-emissions bot also includes LiDAR technology and multiple cameras for optimized travel on sidewalks and along roadsides. The bot uses machine-learning algorithms to detect any obstacles such as curbs, cars, and steps it may come across on its journey.
Before launching the FedEx SameDay Bot nationally, FedEx will be testing the autonomous delivery bot in select locations this summer, including Memphis, Tennessee. The bot has already made its first public appearance on NBC’s The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon earlier this month.
“The FedEx SameDay Bot represents the next chapter in our long legacy of delivering innovation and outstanding service, supported by an already existing FedEx logistics ecosystem,” said Brian Philips, president and CEO of FedEx Office. “We are excited to bring this technology to address new markets and better support our customers. The companies who have provided feedback on its potential use have been instrumental in ensuring we are looking toward the future of eCommerce.”