FedEx to Test Autonomous Delivery “Bot”

FedEx Corp. plans to begin testing a small, autonomous delivery robot in commercial applications this summer in select U.S. cities.

FedEx is partnering with retailers, such as AutoZone, Lowe’s, Pizza Hut, Target, Walgreens and Walmart. The companies will use the FedEx SameDay Bot to make last-mile, same-day deliveries to nearby customers. 

The device is based on DEKA Research and Development’s iBot personal mobility device for disabled and elderly people. DEKA is headed by inventor Dean Kamen, who created the Segway self-balancing, electric scooter.

Equipped with lidar and multiple cameras, the battery-powered FedEx bot is designed to travel on sidewalks and along roadsides. The units can travel 10 mph and carry as much as 100 lbs.

FedEx says the device can navigate unpaved surfaces, curbs and even steps. Machine-learning algorithms are used to help the system stay on course, avoid obstacles and adhere to safety rules, FedEx says.

Initial test will involve deliveries between FedEx Office locations. One of the pilot programs will be conducted in Memphis, Tenn., where FedEx is based.

FedEx says more than 60% of an average retailers’ customers live within three miles of a store location. The logistic firm currently offers same-day delivery in 32 metropolitan markets in the U.S., using traditional delivery vehicles and FedEx employees.

Several other companies are developing their autonomous delivery devices. Amazon launched tests of its Scout system, which is smaller and not as sophisticated as the FedEx bot, last month in Seattle.

Watch a video about FedEx’s SameDay Bot HERE.