FedEx Corp. unveiled an autonomous delivery robot designed to assist retailers with last-mile deliveries to customers, which debuted on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" on Feb. 26.
The next day, the Memphis, Tenn.-based shipping company issued a press release that stated: "FedEx SameDay Bot " will have the capabilities to aid retailers in accepting orders from customers and deliver directly to their homes or businesses.
FedEx is collaborating with retailers such as AutoZone, Lowe’s, Target, Walgreens and Walmart, in the development of autonomous delivery.
“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.
“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.”
FedEx SameDay Bot can travel on sidewalks and along roadsides, delivering small packages to customers’ homes and businesses. Bot features include pedestrian-safe technologies, including LiDAR and multiple sensors, battery power for zero emissions, and machine-learning algorithms to detect and avoid objects.
FedEx is preparing a pilot test this summer in select markets, including Memphis, Tenn., pending final approval from local officials.
“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.”
The test will include deliveries between selected FedEx Office locations.
FedEx said 60% of merchants’ customers live within a three-mile circumference of most stores. The upcoming test will run through the end of the year to see if autonomous delivery at the last mile is a viable solution for cheap deliveries.
Unlocking new technology that eliminates costs from the last mile is any delivery company and retailers' dream heading into 2020. Restaurants pay third-party delivery companies like Uber Eats, DoorDash and GrubHub commissions of 10-30% per order.
So if FedEx succeeds in its upcoming test and offers a nationwide rollout, let's say sometime in the early 2020s, then thousands of broke Americans who are working last-mile gig-economy jobs could find themselves displaced by robots.