FedEx To Test Autonomous Delivery Robots Beginning Summer 2019

February 28, 2019

FedEx To Test Autonomous Delivery Robots Beginning Summer 2019

The multinational delivery services company’s robots will deliver goods directly to customers’ homes

The “last mile problem” refers to the high cost of transporting goods from a store, warehouse or transportation depot to their final destinations – consumers’ homes and apartments. This last leg is far and away the most expensive, oftentimes accounting for a quarter to half of total transportation costs. And if the delivery address happens to be in a busy urban area or a commercial zone, the delivery vehicle is likely to exacerbate congestion and potentially pose a risk to public safety.

In recognition of the continuing growth of the ecommerce industry and the fact that 60% of consumers live within three miles of most merchants’ physical stores, FedEx announced on Wednesday that it is collaborating with such partners as Walmart, Target, Lowe’s, Walgreens, Autozone and Pizza Hut to assess the cost and feasibility of transporting goods the last leg of their journey via autonomous robots.

In developing its new delivery robot, FedEx teamed up with DEKA Development & Research Corp, which was founded by Dean Kamen, who invented the Segway two-wheeled personal transporter and the iBot stair-climbing wheelchair.

FedEx’s same-day delivery robot is comprised of a white storage container riding on four wheels that enable the unit to maneuver over uneven ground and even to climb stairs. Multiple cameras will help the robot detect and avoid obstacles. The battery-powered device will travel up to 10 miles per hour on sidewalks and along roadsides and used to deliver small packages from retailers and hot meals from restaurants to residences and businesses.

Testing is expected to begin this summer in select markets, including Memphis, where FedEx is headquartered, pending city approval. Initial test deliveries will be between various FedEx Office locations in Memphis. FedEx Office currently offers SameDay City Courier services in 32 markets across the U.S.

Meanwhile, Amazon is testing its own autonomous delivery robot dubbed “Scout.” During the test, Amazon customers in Snohomish County, Washington can enjoy same-day delivery of qualified merchandise. During initial testing, Scout delivery units are being accompanied by Amazon employees.

This ecommerce industry news update is presented by Butcher Block Co. – a leading online seller of wood countertops, kitchen islands, kitchen carts and cutting boards.

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