“All of this is powered by more tech-savvy buyers here in the Asia Pacific. At FedEx, we have been adapting our technology and putting new technological solutions in place to deal with this extraordinary demand which started long before Covid-19,” Preet said.
Preet said the pandemic has accelerated digital adoption for consumers and businesses alike. With e-commerce booming, businesses have been looking into new ways to deliver products to customers in a faster, safer and much more efficient way.
In response to the extended lockdown in Sydney, online fashion marketplace The Iconic recently launched a same-day delivery service on Saturdays where shoppers can place orders for same-day delivery up to 2 p.m.
Customers in Sydney will be able to get free express delivery on all orders which are worth more than $50, and will enjoy free 60-day extended returns.
At the height of the pandemic, not only did Toys R Us offer curbside pickup, it partnered with food delivery service DoorDash to offer same-day shipping on items that were available in-store.
Data shows 30.97 per cent of consumers are expecting more from online delivery options in the future, and 38.88 now expect faster delivery, the Asian Retail Outlook 2021 survey reveals. Meanwhile, 33.09 per cent of respondents believe omnichannel will be the name of the game for the future of retail.
According to Preet, Roxo is being designed to create an entirely new market for making the economics of same-day delivery feasible.
“Roxo is one of the stars of our next generation devices and embodies our FedEx philosophy,” she said. “It represents our next evolution of contactless, zero emission same-day deliveries backed by our existing logistics ecosystem.”
Standing at nearly five feet, the autonomous delivery service was first introduced in Dubai in 2019 and is now undergoing testing in seven states in the US to further “train” its software.
Roxo uses advanced technology such as LiDAR and multiple cameras which allows the battery-powered bot to be aware of its surroundings.
Roxo, which FedEx is co-developing with Deka Development & Research Corp, also includes machine-learning algorithms to detect and avoid obstacles, plot a safe path, and allow it to follow road and safety rules.
The role of autonomous technologies
According to Preet, the FedEx team believes that autonomous technologies will play a key role in optimising last-mile delivery services.
“That’s why, in addition to Roxo, we are piloting another partnership in the US with the autonomous vehicle company Nuro,” she explained.
FedEx announced last month that it partnered with Nuro to test the use of driverless vehicles for multistop and appointment-based deliveries in Houston, Texas.
The deliveries will be made by Nuro’s R2 vehicle, an autonomous, driverless delivery vehicle, which is awaiting regulatory approval from the US Department of Transportation so it can operate on public roads.
Last year, the company introduced its SenseAware ID, a lightweight sensor-based logistics device that would keep products at a desired humidity and temperature levels.
According to Prashant Menon, FedEx managing director for IT, the business’ SenseAware ID technology is currently being used by pharmaceutical companies to deliver Covid vaccines worldwide. The company also introduced drone delivery in 2019.
“With innovations like these, we are not just responding to changing consumer behaviour and business demands. We are leading the way,” Preet said. “Our aim is to work smarter solutions that will fit our purpose in today’s rapidly changing business environment.”
“This is all part of how we reimagine what is possible.”
Why the world needs bots like Roxo
According to Jeremy Goldstrich, FedEx vice president, NPAC Operations, one of the benefits of Roxo is its ability to help better manage resources.
“We can let our team members focus on operations as planned while delivery robots handle the on-demand deliveries,” Goldstrich said.
Personal delivery devices like Roxo can also help address challenges associated with last-mile delivery, reducing the number of vehicles on the road, and of course, easing traffic congestion.
“Roxo will be a safer, more efficient and more sustainable alternative to heavy vehicles, cars, trucks, especially for small packages for same-day deliveries,” he said.
Goldstrich added that new technology like Roxo also contributes to the company’s goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2040.
FedEx is currently collaborating with major retailers, businesses, academic teams and local government bodies in Japan to identify local customer use cases, which will help the business explore new opportunities to best leverage the technology for their customers in other markets.