Delivery logistics giant FedEx announced what it calls the SameDay Bot, an autonomous delivery robot aimed at retailers wanting to make same-day and last-mile deliveries. With the bot, which resembles a trash compactor-Opportunity rover hybrid, retailers can accept orders from nearby customers and use the bot to deliver products directly to their homes or businesses on the same day.
FedEx is collaborating with a variety of brands including AutoZone, Lowe’s, Pizza Hut, Target, Walgreens and Walmart to assess their autonomous delivery needs. According to FedEx, more than 60 percent of merchants’ customers live within three miles of a store location, which it claims demonstrates “the opportunity for on-demand, hyper-local” delivery service.
“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,” said Brie Carere, executive vice president and chief marketing and communications officer at FedEx.
The FedEx bot is being developed in collaboration with DEKA Development & Research Corp. and its founder is Dean Kamen, inventor of the iBot Personal Mobility Device and 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.”
The FedEx bot is designed to travel on sidewalks and along roadsides, delivering smaller shipments to customers’ homes and businesses. Bot features include pedestrian-safe technology, 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. FedEx claims the bot can traverse unpaved surfaces, curbs, and even steps.
FedEx plans to test the bot over the summer in Memphis, Tennessee, while other cities may join the test.
The bot made its first public appearance during NBC’s The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on February 26.