New York City (NYC) officials are calling for a ban on FedEx’s delivery robots.
Though FedEx told reports that its SameDay Bots, Roxo, were in NYC simply for a preview party, that didn’t stop NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio from tweeting that FedEx never obtained permission to deploy the robots. He also criticized the company for using a bot to perform a task that a New Yorker could do. As a result, the New York Department of Transportation has sent FedEx a cease-and-desist order, accusing the bots of violating several vehicle and traffic laws, including one that prohibits motor vehicles from being on sidewalks.
FedEx first unveiled its SameDay Bot in February 2019, revealing that it had partnered with DEKA Research & Development — the company responsible for the Segway and the iBot stair-climbing wheelchair — to develop the robot. In addition, FedEx also revealed at the time that it had partnered with Walmart, Pizza Hut and others to test the technology.
The robot is battery powered, and about the size of a cooler. Cameras, lasers and software help it to avoid obstacles as it moves down the sidewalk or along the road. It can reach speeds of up to 10 miles an hour, and has two smaller wheels in front so it can lift up, as well as two large wheels on each side. It can navigate curbs, steps and uneven surfaces.
“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, at the time. “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.”