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FedEx Unveils Autonomous Delivery Robot


Package delivery giant FedEx Corp. (FDX) on Wednesday unveiled an autonomous delivery robot designed to help its partners like Pizza Hut, Walgreens and Walmart to make same-day and "last-mile" deliveries to their customers.

The company noted that with the FedEx SameDay 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 and retail giants 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, FedEx noted.

"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," said Brie Carere, executive vice president and chief marketing and communications officer for FedEx.

The FedEx bot is being developed by FedEx in collaboration with DEKA Development & Research Corp., whose founder Dean Kamen is the inventor of the iBot Personal Mobility Device and the Segway.

The bot is designed to travel on sidewalks as well as along roadsides and safely deliver smaller shipments to customers' homes and businesses.

Features of the battery-powered bot include pedestrian-safe technology from the iBot as well as LiDAR and multiple cameras, allowing the bot to be aware of its surroundings. These features are integrated with machine-learning algorithms to detect and avoid obstacles, plot a safe path, and allow the bot to follow road and safety rules.

FedEx said it plans to test the bot this summer in select markets, including Memphis, Tennessee, pending final city approvals. The initial test will involve deliveries between selected FedEx Office locations.

The FedEx bot will complement the FedEx SameDay City service, which operates in 32 markets and 1,900 cities using branded FedEx vehicles and uniformed FedEx employees.

The bot made its first public appearance during NBC's 'The Tonight Show' starring Jimmy Fallon on Tuesday, February 26. This prototype will be refined to meet safety standards and regulations, and the specific needs of customers, FedEx said.

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