FedEx unveils home delivery robot on US TV chat show
FedEx has showcased a home delivery robot, the 'FedEx SameDay Bot', on nationwide TV in the US, ahead of its official unveiling today, and will test it in Memphis and other cities this year.
The company’s executive vice president and chief marketing and communications officer, Brie Carere, presented the compact, four-wheeled, driverless vehicle on 'The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” on Tuesday evening.
“The FedEx Same Day Bot is an autonomous delivery device and it is going to bring goods to your home. We are so excited to introduce it to you and to the whole world. It’s our global unveiling,” Carere said, telling Fallon. “And we’ve got a package for you coming now actually.” The robot then proceeded to deliver a “still-warm” pizza to the TV host.
“It can deliver lots. It can deliver anything from your local restaurant, your local retailer, I know you (Fallon) are a parent so if you’re at home with your sick child and you don’t want to go to the pharmacy, it can bring medicine to you at your door,” she said.
The robot also demonstrated its capability over unpaved surfaces such as sand and gravel and also through water while it negotiated a step easily too.
FedEx explained that the Same Day Bot uses artificial intelligence and an array of sensors enabling it to “safely navigate to its destination and make deliveries directly to you” while an “intelligent wheel system is designed to set the robot apart, allowing it to traverse various kinds of terrain.” The robot is also equipped with an “innovative” compartment meaning it to carry all kinds of cargo, even hot or cold items, “making deliveries flexible and convenient.”
FedEx followed up with a detailed press release today with more details of the robot and its planning for tests.
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 percent 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,” stated 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 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.”
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, 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.
“We couldn’t be more excited that FedEx chose its hometown as one of the pilot cities for this revolutionary innovation,” Mayor Jim Strickland, City of Memphis, said. “We look forward to working with FedEx to continue introducing technologies that will help improve the quality of life in our community.”
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. “We are excited to bring this technology to address new markets and better support our customers. The companies who have provided feedback on its potential use have been instrumental in ensuring we are looking toward the future of e-commerce.”
The FedEx bot will support retailers in several segments, and the first group of retail customers to view the prototype have recognized the value the technology can bring to their industries.
“We are thrilled to be working with the talented teams at FedEx and DEKA on this revolutionary innovation,” said Bill Rhodes, Chairman, President and CEO, Customer Satisfaction, AutoZone. “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.”
“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. 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,” said Don Frieson, Lowe’s Executive Vice President, Supply Chain. “We look forward to exploring all the possibilities to enhance the service we provide our customers through this innovation.”
“Pizza Hut is constantly exploring new technology-based solutions to advance our delivery business as we look to redefine the modern pizza experience for our customers,” said Nicolas Burquier, chief customer and operations officer, Pizza Hut, U.S. “The opportunity to work with a proven innovator in the delivery space like FedEx allows us the opportunity to leverage cutting-edge technology to further optimize our best-in-class delivery experience.”
“We continue to invest in new technologies and capabilities that make Target the easiest place to shop – both now and in the future. We’re excited to be collaborating with FedEx to explore how autonomous robots could enhance delivery services and more, ensuring we continue to exceed our guests’ expectations for ease and convenience,” said John Mulligan, chief operating officer, Target.
“At Walgreens, we’re on a journey to leverage the latest in innovative technologies to provide a differentiated pharmacy and health care experience, and delivery solutions that bring our services to our customers wherever they are and whenever they need them,” said Alex Gourlay, co-chief operating officer, Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. “With FedEx as a partner, Walgreens has become the fastest choice for next-day prescription delivery in the U.S., and we’re excited that through our growing relationship, the FedEx SameDay Bot is another way we can offer better service and greater convenience to our customers.”