FedEx Reveals New Same-Day Delivery Robot

February 28, 2019

Managing the “last mile” of a product’s journey from the warehouse to its destination is one of the most complicated aspects of shipping and logistics. This final step accounts for as much as half of all delivery costs due to unpredictable factors like traffic jams, route distances, and the need to make multiple stops. That’s why this week FedEx revealed its new SameDay Bot, an autonomous machine that cuts costs by delivering products directly to the customer’s door.

Developed in partnership with a company founded by the inventor of the Segway, this waterproof robot can easily climb stairs and steep inclines to reach its destination. (Click here to see it in action.) Multiple cameras and a laser-guidance system ensure that SameDay Bot doesn’t hit any obstacles as it zips along the sidewalk. FedEx plans to test the machine in several cities as a compliment to its same-day delivery service. “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,” said FedEx’s chief marketing and communications officer Brie Carere.

The company has also teamed up with big names like Walmart, Pizza Hut, and Target to try out the robot in various local markets. FedEx claims that 60 percent of a retailer’s customers live within three miles of a store and could easily receive products from SameDay Bot. Of course, FedEx isn’t the only company currently exploring the possibilities of automated delivery. As tech giants like Google and Amazon experiment with drones, established food delivery services like GrubHub and UberEats present a strong challenge to newcomers like FedEx.

Questions:

  1. Why is the “last mile” one of the most complicated aspects of shipping and logistics?
  2. Do you think automated services like SameDay Bot could revolutionize how companies deliver products to customers? Why or why not?

Source: Hamza Shaban, “Your Next FedEx Delivery Could Be a Pizza,” The Washington Post, February 27, 2019.

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