FedEx’s new autonomous delivery robots can hop curbs and climb stairs

In a few short years, delivery robots have gone from futuristic science-fiction dream to seemingly one of the most crowded new fields in tech. The work of companies like the well-funded Starship Technologies and retail giant Amazon, these self-driving robots are already being demonstrated doing everything from delivering takeout on campuses to dropping off mail. Not wanting to be left out, courier delivery service FedEx has announced its own entry into the field with the FedEx SameDay Bot.

As with the other examples mentioned, FedEx’s autonomous delivery bots are capable of traversing the streets using smart Lidar sensors and cameras to avoid obstacles. They also exhibit some impressive abilities to handle uneven terrain, allowing them to navigate on unpaved surfaces, climb curbs, and even handle steps to deliver goods right to the front door. That’s thanks to the involvement of Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway and the impressive stair-climbing iBot Personal Mobility Device.

Not willing to lose any more ground to delivery upstarts, FedEx also revealed an impressive number of companies that it is collaborating with. These include AutoZone, Lowe’s, Pizza Hut, Target, Walgreens, and Walmart.

FedEx

While robot deliveries from these companies won’t happen overnight, FedEx is working with them to assess how useful autonomous delivery robots could be in helping them make same-day and last-mile deliveries to customers. According to FedEx, upward of 60 percent of these merchants’ customers live within three miles of a store location, thereby making a local robot delivery service a potentially attractive proposition.

“The FedEx SameDay Bot is an innovation designed to change the face of local delivery and help retailers efficiently address their customers’ rising expectations,” Brie Carere, executive vice president and chief marketing and communications officer for FedEx, said in a statement. “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.”

The SameDay Bot officially made its first public appearance on Tuesday, February 26, during The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Hopefully, it won’t be long before this technology moves beyond late-night comedy show gimmick and becomes an everyday occurrence. Anything that combines robots with saving us an unnecessary trip to the stores is A-OK from our perspective!

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