An autonomous delivery robot has been announced by leading delivery provider FedEx. The FedEx delivery robot will offer same-day, last-mile delivery services to a host of leading brands in the US.

Developed in collaboration with DEKA Development & Research, the FedEx SameDay Bot will meet growing demand for “on-demand, hyper-local delivery”, according to the transport company.

It has been developed following work with leading US brands, including AutoZone, Lowe’s, Pizza Hut, Target and Walmart to assess the need for autonomous delivery among retailers.

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

“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.”

However, FedEx is by no means the first company entering the autonomous delivery robot space, suggesting the company has felt the need to act now in order to avoid losing business to autonomous rivals.

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FedEx delivery robot joins the automation race

Autonomous delivery robots are increasingly being seen as a key option to solve the issue of last-mile deliveries, with a number of companies making moves in this emerging market.

German automotive giant Continental, for example, has unveiled plans for a robotic delivery dog that would be transported in driverless cars before completing the last mile of its delivery by itself.

Other delivery robot providers include KiwiBot, which has already begun trials in California, Marble and TeleRetail.

Arguably the biggest player in the delivery robot space, however, is Starship Technologies, which having nabbed former Airbnb executive Lex Bayer as CEO has already begun a limited commercial rollout, with Domino’s, Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts among its customers.

The company has also been testing multiple potential issues with the technology, including how guide dogs might react to the pup-sized robots.

The growing success of Starship’s offering has put FedEx on the back foot, and the company will need to work hard to catch up, particularly given its first trials in a number of US cities are not planned until this summer.

Taking the autonomous delivery robot market seriously

The launch of the FedEx delivery robot is, however, a stamp of approval for the wider delivery robot market, indicating that the courier does see this as a potential threat to its human-led business.

This is supported by the data. Mordor Intelligence projects the autonomous delivery robots market with see a compound annual growth rate of 49.5% between 2019 and 2024.

The FexEx delivery robot is, then, a chance for the company to maintain its leadership position in a market set for dramatic change.

“The FedEx SameDay Bot represents the next chapter in our long legacy of delivering innovation and outstanding service, supported by an already existing FedEx logistics ecosystem,” said Brian Philips, President and CEO of FedEx Office.

“We are excited to bring this technology to address new markets and better support our customers. The companies who have provided feedback on its potential use have been instrumental in ensuring we are looking toward the future of e-commerce.”