American delivery company FedEx has developed the FedEx SameDay Bot, an autonomous delivery device designed to help retailers make same-day and last-mile deliveries to their customers. With the bot, retailers will be able to accept orders from nearby customers and deliver them by bot directly to customers’ homes or businesses the same day. FedEx is collaborating with companies such as AutoZone, Lowe’s, Pizza Hut, Target, Walgreens and Walmart to help assess retailers’ autonomous delivery needs. On average, more than 60 percent of merchants’ customers live within three miles of a store location, demonstrating the opportunity for on-demand, hyper-local delivery.
The FedEx bot is being developed in collaboration with DEKA Development & Research Corp. and its founder Dean Kamen, inventor of many life-changing technologies, including the iBot Personal Mobility Device and the Segway.
“The bot has unique capabilities that make it unlike other autonomous vehicles,” Kamen said. “We built upon the power base of the iBot, an advanced, FDA-approved, mobility device for the disabled population with more than 10 million 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.”
The FedEx bot is designed to travel on sidewalks and along roadsides, safely delivering smaller shipments to customers’ homes and businesses. Bot features include pedestrian-safe technology from the iBot, plus advanced technology such as LiDAR and multiple cameras, allowing the zero-emission, battery-powered bot to be aware of its surroundings. These features are coupled with machine-learning algorithms to detect and avoid obstacles, plot a safe path and allow the bot to follow road and safety rules. Proprietary technology makes the bot highly capable, allowing it to navigate unpaved surfaces, curbs, and even steps for an extraordinary door-to-door delivery experience.
FedEx plans to test the bot this summer in select markets, including Memphis, Tenn., pending final city approvals. “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 e-commerce.”
The bot made its first public appearance during NBC’s The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on Tuesday, Feb. 26. This prototype will be refined to meet safety standards and regulations, and the specific needs of customers.