SameDay bot is hitting streets in FedEx delivery test.
While airborne drone deliveries entail all the technological and regulatory hurdles, and are yet considered as laudable ideas, FedEx believes it has an option for same-day ground service that’s ready to go and could beat them all. Six major retailers, including Walmart Inc., Target Corp., Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. and Lowe’s Cos., have signed on to try out the six-wheeled contraption.
“Right now in the market, nobody does this effectively,” Brie Carere explained, FedEx’s Marketing Chief. “This device is way more cost efficient than sending a full-sized truck or even a full-sized car. It’s also safer and more environmentally friendly.” She compares SameDay bot with vehicles used for deliveries which cause pollution, harm to the environment and prove to be expensive service.
The demand and trends of e-commerce shoppers are pushing retailers to compete for speedier delivery, which is driving up costs to hire drivers and buy and maintain vehicles while creating more traffic on busy city streets. Costs and congestion only increase as internet purchases, which make up about 14 percent of overall retail sales, continue to surge. Well, who doesn’t enjoy purchases at a click in the comforts of their home?
Robots are one effective solution. Amazon.com Inc. in January announced a trial of a delivery robot, “Scout” that resembles an ice chest on wheels that rolls along sidewalks and can adjust for obstacles such as people and pets. Postmate’s Serve was also designed for a similar purpose.
Startups, including Kiwi and Starship Technologies, used similar gadgets for college-campus deliveries. Savioke Inc. has developed a robot to deliver items to hotel rooms. A Los Angeles Sheraton hotel sends guests’ luggage to rooms using robots appalling the guests, made by Aethon Inc.
FedEx developed its mobile robot with the help of Deka Research & Development Corp., the group founded by inventor Dean Kamen, the engineer of the Segway scooter and the iBot. The platform for the device is Deka’siBot, a motorized wheel chair that is capable of climbing stairs and has more than 10 million miles of operation by users.
The FedEx robot will be able to carry packages as heavy as 100 pounds and will use machine learning to calculate the optimal route to a delivery destination. It’s equipped with sensors and cameras to help it find its way and avoid obstacles. The robot will signal to pedestrians, cyclists or motorists when it’s turning or stopping. If needed, it can even talk to people it encounters via speakers operated by a FedEx employee who will monitor the robots remotely. It will communicate with pedestrians through screens on its front and back, which display friendly but basic messages like “hello” and “stopped.”
The device weighs about 200 pounds and can run two hours on a single charge.
FedEx declined to discuss the price of the robot, the delivery cost, or the potential volume the bots could handle.
Once the robot arrives at a home or business, the person receiving the package would use a code sent to their mobile device to open the robot’s compartment. The automated vehicle would be able to pick up merchandise for return as well. Initial tests will be done from FedEx Office locations, though retailers are interested because 60 percent of their customers on average live within three miles of a store location.
Collaborators can’t keep calm and are very excited to explore how autonomous robots could enhance delivery services and ensure to continue to exceed guests’ expectations for ease and convenience.
FedEx Corp. envisions a not-too-distant future in which it functions with Star Wars-style robots for more deliveries. The delivery company just announced plans to pilot a new autonomous delivery bot calling it “SameDay”. It’s not Wall-E level cute, but promises high performance and efficiency. Imagine a box-shaped bot that can roll out of a neighbourhood pharmacy and drop off prescription medicine at a nearby house.
The company is all set to commence testing a 4-foot, 2-inch tall delivery robot in Memphis, Tennessee, and two other cities as early as this month. The battery-powered bot travels at 10 miles an hour, has a range of 8 miles and can navigate streets, sidewalks, curbs, potholes, dodge pedestrians and even take the steps up to a home’s front door.