Autozone, PizzaHut, Lowe's and Walgreen's are among the high-profile customers helping FedEx test its new SameDay Bot delivery system in Memphis, Tennessee. 
 - Photo: FedEx

Autozone, PizzaHut, Lowe's and Walgreen's are among the high-profile customers helping FedEx test its new SameDay Bot delivery system in Memphis, Tennessee. 

Photo: FedEx

The rise of the delivery robots continues, as FedEx announced what it calls a “cutting-edge delivery solution to meet the rapidly changing needs of consumers.” The FedEx SameDay Bot is an autonomous delivery device designed to help retailers make same-day and last-mile deliveries to their customers.

With the bot, FedEx said, retailers will be able to accept orders from nearby customers and deliver them 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% of merchants’ customers live within 3 miles of a store location, FedEx said, demonstrating the opportunity for on-demand, hyper-local delivery.

The FedEx bot is designed to travel on sidewalks and along roadsides. The six-wheeled device has a top speed of 10 mph and can carry about 100 pounds. It uses 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. FedEx says the bot SameDay Bot can navigate unpaved surfaces, curbs, and even steps.

FedEx SameDay Bot from FedEx on Vimeo.

The FedEx bot is being developed in collaboration with DEKA Development & Research and its founder Dean Kamen, inventor of 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.”

FedEx plans to test the bot this summer in select markets, including Memphis, Tennessee, pending final city approvals. The initial test will involve deliveries between selected FedEx Office locations. FedEx Office currently offers a SameDay City service that operates in 32 markets and 1,900 cities using branded FedEx vehicles and uniformed FedEx employees. The FedEx bot will complement the FedEx SameDay City service.

“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.

“The convenience and capability of the FedEx Same Day Bot has the potential to greatly simplify and speed distribution for the full range of our customers," said Don Frieson, Lowe’s executive vice president of supply chain. "Consider pros who could save time and money by never leaving the job site for the critical tools and supplies they need from Lowe’s."

The bot made its first public appearance during NBC’s The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on Tuesday, Feb. 26. FedEx said this prototype unit will be refined to meet safety standards and regulations, and the specific needs of customers.

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