FedEx Corp. has launched a new agent to meet the rapidly changing needs of consumers: 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 per cent of merchants’ customers live within three miles of a store location, demonstrating the opportunity for on-demand, hyper-local delivery.
“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.”
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,” Mr 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, kerbs, and even steps for extraordinary door-to-door delivery.
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 bot will support retailers in several segments, and the first group of retail customers to view the prototype have recognised the value the technology can bring to their industries.