FedEx could start delivering packages to your home or office through robots very soon. The company is launching a new program dubbed the FedEx SameDay Bot. The shipping giant says that a new sub-200-pound autonomous delivery robot will be deployed under the program. The goal is to make it easier for retailers to give customers same-day delivery at a cheaper cost. FedEx has also noted that it’s collaborating with other major brands such as Pizza Hut, Walmart, Walgreens, Target, AutoZone, and Lowe’s.
Testing for the bot will begin this summer in selected markets. The first batch of deliveries will be done in Memphis, the main headquarters for the shipping giant. FedEx is yet to get approval though for the tests but the program is likely to get the node after it was publicly backed by the city’s Mayor Jim Strickland.
FedEx notes that on average, about 60% of customers who buy stuff from online merchants live within three miles of a store location. This simply creates an opportunity for on-demand, hyper-local delivery. It seems like the shipping company feels that a bot would be better placed to do this kind of job. It won’t be the first time though that the company will be offering same-day delivery. At the moment, FedEx offers same-day delivery in 32 markets and 1,900 cities around the world. However, this is done using FedEx branded vehicles and a huge staff. As the robot begins testing this summer, there will be a lot of people who will want to know how this will affect the employees already working at the shipping giant.
A statement released by the company shortly after announcing plans for the new bot didn’t address this question. Instead, FedEx said that it felt this is the future of e-commerce and that it’s currently focusing on providing innovative support for its vast shipping ecosystem. The bot is battery-powered and it will be traveling largely on sidewalks. It will have four wheels, two smaller ones on the front and two large ones on the back. There will also be a compartment at the center that will carry the package to be delivered. In addition to this, the bot will be leveraging on laser light technology, multiple cameras, and machine learning to avoid pedestrians as it moves around from one location to the other.
FedEx is not alone though in experimenting with robot deliveries. Amazon too has been doing this over the last few months. The e-commerce giant has, in fact, started testing in Snohomish County, Washington. The bot has been named Amazon Scout, it features six wheels and is relatively smaller in size compared to the FedEx robot.
Same-day delivery has become a very popular demand for many people who shop online. A number of top online retail giants including Amazon have been able to offer it but the cost is quite high. Experts note that the idea of bringing autonomous robots into the picture will help reduce the cost. But this may come at the expense of employees working in product delivery.