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FedEx's 'Roxo' delivery bot gets chilly reception in New York City

FedEx says Roxo was visiting New York City for a special event and is not currently being tested for that market.

FedEx Corp. in February introduced the world to the SameDay Bot with an appearance on NBC’s The Tonight Show.

Known as “Roxo,” it uses artificial intelligence, sensors and stair-climbing wheels to autonomously deliver cargo. However, after being spotted out on the streets of New York City in mid-November, the reception on social media from local residents and even Mayor Bill de Blasio was as chilly as the late autumn temperatures.

"First of all, FedEx never get a robot to do a New Yorker’s job. We have the finest workers in the world. Second of all, we didn’t grant permission for these to clog up our streets. If we see ANY of these bots we’ll send them packing,” de Blasio said in a Tweet.

In response, FedEx said in a statement Roxo was visiting New York City for a special event and is not currently being tested for that market.

"Roxo has been tested in four markets throughout the United States so far. Future testing plans are not yet determined,” FedEx said. “As with any new technology from FedEx, Roxo will undergo rigorous testing to ensure safety in collaboration with regulatory authorities in test markets. We believe autonomous technology can help supplement operational and service efficiency for our customers and our team members, and even help to create new job opportunities."

The goal of Roxo is to allow more retailers to more efficiently complete same-day and last-mile deliveries to customers. One location that has been more accommodating is FedEx’s hometown of Memphis, TN.

“We couldn’t be more excited that FedEx chose its hometown as one of the pilot cities for this revolutionary innovation,” Mayor Jim Strickland said. “We look forward to working with FedEx to continue introducing technologies that will help improve the quality of life in our community.”

Roxo weighs about 200 lbs., can carry up to 100 lbs. and is always monitored by a remote operator. FedEx is working with retailers such as AutoZone, Lowe’s, Pizza Hut, Target, Walgreens and Walmart to evaluate the role Roxo could play in local, same-day deliveries in the coming years.

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

Roxo was developed by FedEx in collaboration with DEKA Development & Research Corp. and its founder Dean Kamen. It features pedestrian-safe technology from the iBot, plus advanced technology such as LiDAR and multiple cameras, allowing the zero-emission, battery-powered bot to be aware of its surroundings.

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