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Start-ups and Amazon have started experimenting with robots for short-distance deliveries and FedEx has followed suit. FedEx Same Day bot could make last mile deliveries more efficient because the bot can steer itself around pedestrians and traffic by using a combination of LIDAR sensors, a technology that can be found in self-driving vehicles and regular cameras.
According to FedEx, the autonomous Same Day bot that has a top speed of 10mph will be used to courier packages between FedEx offices in its headquarters in Memphis. If the trials are successful, the service will be expanded to other companies and retailers. Eventually, the bots will become a standard in same-day delivery.
FedEx is also into talks with other companies like Auto Zone, Lowe’s, Pizza Hut, Target, Walgreens and Walmart to determine their needs for the robot delivery. On average, FedEx serves more than 60% of the customers of these retailers that live within 3 miles of a store. This distance is perfect for the little wheeled robot.
FedEx is not the first company to test short-range delivery robots. Start-ups and some large firms have tried the same technology; however, it is not clear whether the robots will be economical to deploy at scale. Safety is also a concern if the robots will be deployed in big cities.
When San Francisco was used as the testing ground for the robots, municipal regulators restricted their movements and considered them as nuisance. Other states and cities were more welcoming of the Same Day bots that have some features to make them standout from the crowd like multiple pair of wheels to climb up steps and curbs.
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