FedEx Partners with Retailers in Development of Autonomous Delivery Robots

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FedEx Partners with Retailers in Development of Autonomous Delivery Robots
Photo Still: Vimeo

At the end of February, FedEx announced a partnership with multiple retailers in the development of a same-day delivery autonomous robot.

FedEx Partners with Retailers in Development of Autonomous Delivery Robots
Photo Still: Vimeo

The robot will help retailers who are looking for ways to expand its delivery products and same-day pickup services, the company wrote in a release. Target is investing in new tech to find new ways to deliver products to its customers and add a new level of convenience. FedEx’s robot, deemed the FedEx SameDay Bot, is an autonomous delivery device designed to help retailers make same-day and last-mile deliveries to their customers, FedEx stated.

FedEx is collaborating with AutoZone, Lowe’s, Pizza Hut, Target, Walgreens and Walmart. FedEx stated that more than 60 percent of merchants’ customers live within three miles of a store location, demonstrating the opportunity for on-demand, hyper-local delivery.

FedEx SameDay Bot from FedEx on Vimeo.

“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.”

According to 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.”

Chief Operating Officer of Target John Mulligan said Target has more than 1,800 stores in neighborhoods across the country, where they have already offering local shipping, pickup and delivery services in which most customers live within 10 miles of a Target.

“We’re working together to imagine—and someday test—how the SameDay Bot could help our teams offer new services to guests, like completing the last mile of a package’s journey from our store to a guest,” Mulligan said. “This partnership presented a great opportunity to match our proximity to our guests with FedEx’s autonomous robot technology that’s designed for local deliveries.”

The bot made its first public appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon Feb. 26. 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 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.

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