FedEx (NYSE:FDX) is making some pretty big moves. The company recently unveiled an autonomous delivery robot designed to help retailers complete same day deliveries to their customers. To create the robot, FedEx turned to DEKA Research and Development Corporation. You may recognize DEKA as the company that invented the Segway (believe it or not, while Segways have fallen out of fashion, USPS used them as one of its forms of transportation, once upon a time). This robot is a play for FedEx to compete in the quickly-growing same day delivery space.
“SameDay” is its Name, and it’s Here to Deliver
FedEx’s delivery robot’s name is “SameDay,” and it may make an appearance on your street in the near future. The company plans to test out the robot this summer in select regions across the United States, such as Memphis, TN (FedEx’s headquarters).
SameDay is designed to travel on sidewalks and roadsides, and can even navigate curbs and steps. The battery-powered bot gives off zero emissions, and comes equipped with multiple cameras and laser detection technology (LiDAR). Along with machine learning algorithms, this technology allows SameDay to detect and avoid obstacles, plot a safe path, and follow road and safety rules.
That’s a pretty cool robot, if we do say so ourselves.
Will SameDay Deliver My Mail?
Don’t expect the SameDay Bot to drop off letters or parcels at your doorstep any time soon. Remember: the US Postal Service is the only shipping carrier that can legally deliver mail. That’s why other carriers all rely on USPS to complete last mile delivery for them.
FedEx’s SameDay Bot will solely service retailers and their regional customers. Think of it kind of like a high-tech pizza delivery guy. Speaking of pizza: current retail partners for FedEx’s SameDay program include Pizza Hut, Walmart, Lowe’s, Walgreens, Target, and more.
The Benefit of Autonomous Delivery Robots
In the era of eCommerce, customers want their products, and they want them NOW. However, that poses some problems because, well…humans can only do so much. Delivery robots can potentially provide faster and more efficient delivery without stretching manpower too thin.
SameDay’s retail partners have positive things to say on the matter.
“The convenience and capability of the FedEx SameDay Bot has the potential to greatly simplify and speed distribution for the full range of our customers,” said Don Frieson, Lowe’s Executive Vice President, Supply Chain. “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.”
If all goes well with SameDay, we may see other shipping carriers follow suit and develop their own delivery robots. As for now, keep an eye out for the SameDay Bot rolling down sidewalks this summer!