The image of a robot rolling down the street while people go about their everyday business may soon be a normal sight. That's because FedEx unveiled their "SameDay Bot," basically a big metal box on heavy duty wheels that makes short distance deliveries to customers (both business and residential) on behalf of retailers.
FedEx unveiled the machine to the world last night on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon while also debuting a commercial that shows the robot's travel capabilities, splashing through puddles, stopping at red lights, and rolling up the precarious steps of a front porch with apparent ease.
“The FedEx SameDay Bot is an innovation designed to change the face of local delivery and help retailers efficiently address their customers’ rising expectations,” said Brie Carere, executive vice president and chief marketing and communications officer for FedEx in an official press release. “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.”
Watch the SameDay Bot's global "premiere" below:
Right now, FedEx has partnered with big-name retailers like AutoZone, Lowe’s, Pizza Hut, Target, Walgreens and Walmart. All of these businesses deal in simple, yet imperative consumer needs like food and pharmaceuticals, making them the perfect conduits through which to roll out the delivery droid. The machine was developed alongside DEKA Development & Research Corp., a company known for such game-changing inventions as the iBot Personal Mobility Device and the Segway.
“The bot has unique capabilities that make it unlike other autonomous vehicles,” said DEKA founder, Dean Kamen. “We built upon the power base of the iBot, an advanced, FDA-approved, mobility device for the disabled population with more than 10 million hours of reliable, real-world operation. By leveraging this base in an additional application, we hope that the iBot will become even more accessible to those who need it for their own mobility.”
Letting off zero emissions and able to navigate unpaved surfaces, the SameDay Bot is also capable of learning best practices for safe travel and pedestrian well-being.
Watch the first-ever SameDay ad, which depicts medicine delivery, below:
FedEx will begin to test out the SameDay Bot in select cities around the United States. Right now, Memphis, Tennessee is among one of the trial cities. Why Memphis? Well, it's the city where Frederick W. Smith founded FedEx, of course!
“We couldn’t be more excited that FedEx chose its hometown as one of the pilot cities for this revolutionary innovation,” Mayor Jim Strickland, City of Memphis, said. “We look forward to working with FedEx to continue introducing technologies that will help improve the quality of life in our community.”
Naturally, FedEx wasn't the first company to come up with the idea of a package delivery droid. In late January, Amazon began to send out its "Scout" robots in Washington State. Unlike the SameDay Bot, they're much smaller and closer to the ground, but their smaller size means less cargo space.