FedEx has begun testing its new same-day-delivery robot, Roxo, on the streets of Memphis.
FedEx signed an agreement with the city of Memphis on July 31 to allow testing of Roxo. Roxo will be tested in two locations; one route near the University of Memphis and another downtown. Each route will be less than three miles. Roxo will also be tested in other cities including Manchester, Plano, and Frisco.
Memphis mayor Jim Strickland said that he was excited FedEx chose to test the new technology in its hometown.
“We couldn’t be more excited that FedEx chose its hometown as one of the pilot cities for this revolutionary innovation” Strickland said.
The purpose of Roxo is to deliver products from stores to customers in the same neighborhoods. The bot is slightly over four feet tall and it comes equipped with tires designed to traverse all types of terrain. It can even climb small flights of stairs.
Initial test will have the robot making deliveries between select FedEx office locations which currently offer a SameDay City service. FedEx hopes Roxo will compliment this already existing service.
The company is also planning on working with Lowes, Walgreens, Target, Pizza Hut and AutoZone to help with implementation. FedEx says the bot can currently run for about eight miles, but they will be able to expand that distance. Its top speed is ten miles per hour.
Roxo was originally announced in February and it appeared on the “Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.” The bot will use artificial intelligence and sensors to map out a delivery route from point-to-point. It will also be able to communicate with any pedestrians it may cross using screens located on the front and back. The bot will be able to stop at traffic lights and detect unexpected obstacles in its path.
Roxo will stay off the main street as it makes its route. It is designed to use sidewalks and crosswalks so that it does not impede traffic. In case the bot gets stuck, it is programmed to connect with a FedEx employee who can take over remote control.
The box on Roxo is designed to carry items securely. It can make multiple or single deliveries and it will only open for the customer who made the order. The bot can also carry hot or cold items. This makes the use of the bot for grocery deliveries a possibility.
Students at University of Memphis have said they view Roxo or other drones for deliveries as beneficial in certain ways.
Sophomore Kallie Holly said it will be positive, but potentially at the expense of employees.
“I think it will be good as long as they operate it right,” Holly said. “I would probably use it, but I also think it could take away jobs.”
However, PHD student Morgan Bromley, said he thought the robot would create more jobs.
“I don’t see any problems with it at all,” Bromley said. “I think it would bring in more jobs for maintenance, building, and repairs. As long as it sends me a text every now and then to tell me when it’s on its way.”
FedEx hopes the bot can help lower the costs of short distance deliveries and help deliver items during hours where an employee would be unavailable. This could also allow FedEx to break into the food delivery market and compete with companies like Uber.
Brie Carere, chief of marketing and communications, said Roxo comes with great potential.
“There is a massive market that exists today that we don’t currently serve; that’s your prepared foods, for example, pizza delivery,” Carere said. “It’s a growing market. It’s going to grow faster than it has in the last five years, and there’s already a massive opportunity. But absolutely it’s a game-changer for the industry. It’s a game-changer for our customers and consumers, and it’s certainly a game-changer for FedEx.”