Robot Roxo to help FedEx for same-day, last-mile deliveries
FedEx in association with Manchester-based DEKA Research
August 14, 2019: FedEx in association with Manchester-based DEKA Research & Development Corporation has officially launched- Roxo, a battery-operated robot on August 6 in Manchester. Roxo, which means 'purple' in Portuguese, is a nod to FedEx's purple branding.
In February 2019, Fedex announced Roxo as an autonomous delivery device designed to help retailers make same-day and last-mile deliveries to their customers.
Founder Dean Kamen, who has championed robotics research at DEKA; Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig; and Yeung attended the launch of Roxo at the City Hall Plaza.
"The future is knocking! Roxo™, the FedEx SameDay Bot, is hard at work training in Manchester, New Hampshire. Roxo is learning more and more every day, including navigating streets, interacting with pedestrians and climbing curbs," wrote Rajesh Subramaniam, president and chief operating officer of FedEx Corp and co-president and co-chief executive officer of FedEx Services on his LinkedIn page.
With a capacity to carry up to 100 pounds, Roxo can travel up to 10 miles per hour (mph), over puddles, potholes, steep slopes, sand, and curbs. Its intelligent wheel system is designed, allowing it to traverse various kinds of terrain. It has a flexible design, configuring cargo for single or multiple deliveries, and making the contents accessible only for the recipient. Using artificial intelligence and an array of sensors, Roxo is able to safely navigate to its destination and make deliveries directly to the customer. Businesses are already coming in for the same-day bot version to deliver pizzas, prescriptions, auto parts, groceries, and more. For now, Roxo will be focused on navigating city sidewalks, respecting pedestrian right-of-way, dodging stop-and-go traffic as guided by the cloud and the ongoing programming tweaks by a team of DEKA engineers.
"We started with Manchester, obviously we work with DEKA, so it's the birthplace for Roxo," vice president of FedEx Corp, Rebecca Yeung stated in Manchester Ink Link, a publication based in Manchester.
By late August, Roxo should also start local testing on Memphis roads. Recently, FedEx Corp has announced an additional $450 million investment to the $1.1 billion Memphis Hub modernisation project, which was announced in March 2018. The project is expected to be completed by 2025.
"I think we are helping collectively to create a better way to do that last mile, it's cleaner, it's safer, it's more efficient, especially in a pedestrian environment like this," Kamen told the publication.
The power base is modelled after the standing, stair-climbing wheelchair invented by Kamen more than 20 years ago. Now, high volume production of the base could help lower the cost and make the wheelchair more accessible for the disabled.
At the event, Kamen explained his long-term relationship with FedEx founder Fred Smith, for official delivery service for transporting all his For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) team robots.
Roxo is the result of Smith's request to Kamen to design "the world's best last-mile pedestrian-friendly delivery device", a couple of years ago.
Meanwhile, Roxo will be tested in three other cities to see if any customisation is needed before rolling out anywhere in the future.
The bot has made a recent appearance at the World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational in July where it delivered a cheque for St. Jude.