You didn’t think FedEx would sit on the sidelines of the robot revolution, did you? The overnight delivery company officially announced its own autonomous SameDay Bot today that will not only deliver documents and packages, but is equipped to bring you hot pizza or cooled drinks.
The SameDay Bot is meant for, well, same day delivery for retailers. As part of the announcement, FedEx said it is helping assess the autonomous delivery needs of several retail partners including Pizza Hut, Target, Walgreens and Walmart.
Almost as interesting as the FedEx bot news itself is the company that designed it: Dean Kamen’s DEKA Development & Research Corp. Kamen is famous for inventing the Segway and the iBot, which is used to provide mobility for those disabilities and serves as the base of the FedEx SameDay Bot. SameDay uses LiDAR, multiple cameras and machine learning to navigate safely around people and obstacles.
The SameDay Bot is definitely bigger than other rover bots we’ve seen from Starship, Kiwi or even Amazon and the DEKA technology is on full display in FedEx’s b-roll footage in which its bot deftly climbs up stairs to provide literal door-to-door delivery.
A demo video for SameDay Bot on FedEx’s site says that the robot will have the ability to deliver warm or cold food, though the press announcement didn’t list any specific technology (heaters, etc.) that makes that happen. Given the size of the SameDay Bot, it’s not hard to imagine some kind of add-on inserted into the bot itself to allow that. FedEx actually “delivered” a (non Pizza Hut) pizza to Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show last night that was, in the words of the host “Still warm!”
FedEx will start testing the SameDay Bot this summer in select markets, including its hometown of Memphis, TN, “pending city approvals.” Getting cities on-board is an issue every robot company has faced as municipal regulators figure out how we’re going to share the sidewalks with fleets of delivery bots scurrying around.
I’m not sure how big a market FedEx sees in food delivery for its new robot, but it certainly has the market cap and muscle to be an immediate player in the space should it choose. Partnering with Walmart and Target gives the FedEx an immediate entré into the grocery biz, plus it has the aforementioned Pizza Hut.
FedEx’s SameDay Bot announcement comes just a day after we at The Spoon uncovered a new patent issued to Amazon for a new “Autonomous Ground Vehicle” (AGV), which could flip the model on robot delivery. According to the patent, the AGV would live at a person’s home and go out and retrieve packages, rather than being sent out from a fulfillment center.
Big players like Amazon and FedEx getting into the robot delivery space is one of the reasons we’re doing our ArticulATE summit in San Francisco on April 16. It’s a one-day, one-track summit discussing the future of robotics and automation throughout the food stack. Get your ticket today!
And if that wasn’t enough robot action for you, you can also join in our exclusive Spoon Slack Chat on Food Robotics this Friday, March 1 at 10:30 a.m. (Pacific). We’ll be talking with delivery bot company Kiwi, as well as farm robot company Augean and automated smart fridge company, Byte Foods.