The delivery and logistics company teamed up with DEKA Research & Development, the company responsible for the Segway and the iBot stair-climbing wheelchair, to develop the robot.
The robot is battery powered and about the size of a cooler. Cameras, lasers and software help it avoid obstacles as it moves down the sidewalk or along the road. It can reach speeds up to 10 miles an hour. The robot has two smaller wheels in front that can lift up, and two large wheels on each side. It can navigate curbs, steps and uneven surfaces.
FedEx said it wants the robot to be part of its SameDay service, which currently operates in 1,900 cities around the world.
“The FedEx SameDay Bot represents the next chapter in our long legacy of delivering innovation and outstanding service, supported by an already existing FedEx logistics ecosystem,” said Brian Philips, president and CEO of FedEx Office. “We are excited to bring this technology to address new markets and better support our customers. The companies [that] have provided feedback on its potential use have been instrumental in ensuring we are looking toward the future of eCommerce.”
The project has to be approved in the proposed test cities, including Memphis, where it has the go-ahead from Mayor Jim Strickland.
Target CEO John Mulligan said, “We’re excited to be collaborating with FedEx to explore how autonomous robots could enhance delivery services and more, ensuring we continue to exceed our guests’ expectations for ease and convenience.”
“Last-mile” delivery accounts for 50 percent or more of package costs, and investors and delivery companies are spending millions to lower those costs and resolve regulatory issues.