FedEx Corp. aims to help retailers step-up local delivery service with development of a safe, environmentally friendly autonomous mobile robot, the company said today.
The FedEx Same-Day Bot is designed to travel on sidewalks and along roadsides, delivering smaller shipments to customers' homes and businesses, the Memphis-based company said. The zero-emission, battery-powered bot features pedestrian-safe technology from iBot as well as LiDAR technology and multiple cameras, allowing it to be aware of its surroundings, developers said. Those features are coupled with machine-learning algorithms that make it even safer—the bot can detect and avoid obstacles, plot a safe path and follow road and safety rules, FedEx also said.
The bot will help retailers respond to increasingly fast delivery demands and growing e-commerce orders, allowing them to accept orders from nearby customers and deliver them via robot the same day, the company said. FedEx said it is collaborating with retailers such as AutoZone, Lowe's, Pizza Hut, Target, Walgreens and Walmart to determine their autonomous delivery needs.
FedEx is developing the bot in collaboration with DEKA Development & Research Corp. and its founder Dean Kamen, inventor of the iBot Personal Mobility Device and the Segway.
"The bot has unique capabilities that make it unlike other autonomous vehicles," according to Kamen. "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 bot made its first public appearance during NBC's The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon on Tuesday, Feb. 26, and is set to be tested in select markets this summer.