FedEx rolls out autonomous delivery robot
The human element in package delivery looks set to disappear in the near future. Readers will likely be well aware of Amazon's air and ground autonomous delivery robots, and you may have seen Starship's electric six-wheeled bot trundling around hundreds of cities. Now FedEx has joined the ranks with the development of the SameDay Bot.
As its name indicates, this autonomous delivery robot has been designed to make same-day and last-mile deliveries.
"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 the company's Brie Carere. "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 battery-electric robot is being developed in collaboration with Dean Kamen's DEKA Development & Research Corp to deliver small packages from business to business, and business to customer.
It can roll along sidewalks and roadsides, though is also reported capable of trundling over unpaved surfaces, taking on curbs and tackling steps. And there are display panels front and back for showing messages or vehicle status.
Pedestrian-safe technology from Kamen's iBot powered wheelchair is included, as well as multiple cameras and LiDAR, while machine learning algorithms take care of obstacle detection and avoidance, and route plotting.
When it reaches its destination, the hinged cargo doors can be unlocked only by the customer for retrieval of the package.
FedEx intends to start testing the SameDay Bot on its home turf of Memphis in the summer (Northern Hemisphere), with the initial pilot taking place between FedEx Office locations. A robot prototype has already been introduced to several retailers, including AutoZone, Pizza Hut, Target and Walgreens and early reactions seem positive.
"When we saw the FedEx SameDay Bot in action, it confirmed to our team the many ways it can help us improve our service by offering reliable, highly efficient deliveries to our customers," said the AutoZone's Bill Rhodes.
The video below shows the SameDay Bot in action.