Pizza Hut and FedEx announced today a collaboration to “modernize and enhance the pizza delivery experience” by using FedEx’s SameDay Bot, a new autonomous delivery device in the last-mile delivery space. The companies said the robot will support existing delivery staff in an effort to improve efficiency of the delivery process “without compromising the quality of America’s favorite pizza.”
“Our success is built around the best-in-class experiences we provide to our customers,” said Nicolas Burquier, chief customer and operations officer at Pizza Hut, U.S., in a statement. “As we look to advance our business and continue providing experiences that our customers deserve, exploring technology solutions that allow our team members to do what they do on an even greater scale is critical to our success. Testing of the SameDay Bot with FedEx is just one more way we’re looking at the future of delivery at Pizza Hut.”
Navigating curbs, unpaved surfaces
The FedEx SameDay Bot is developed by FedEx and the DEKA Research and Development Corp., and is equipped with proprietary technology that allows it to navigate unpaved surfaces, curbs, and even steps for a door-to-door delivery experience, the company said. In addition to Pizza Hut, FedEx said it is collaborating with AutoZone, Lowe’s, Target, Walgreens and Walmart “to help assess retailers’ autonomous delivery needs.” Testing of the robot is scheduled for this summer in select markets, including Memphis, Tenn., pending final city approvals, FedEx said.
Initial tests of the FedEx SameDay Bot (not necessarily for pizza) will involve deliveries between selected FedEx Office locations, the company said. FedEx Office currently offers a SameDay City service in 32 markets and 1,900 cities, using branded FedEx vehicles and uniformed FedEx employees. The FedEx robot would complement the FedEx SameDay City service, it said.
“The FedEx SameDay Bot is an innovation being developed to change the face of local delivery and help brands, like Pizza Hut, address the growing needs of their customers,” said Brie Carere, executive vice president and chief marketing and communications officer for FedEx. “The FedEx bot looks to redefine delivery for this market in a manner that is cost-effective, safe and environmentally friendly.” More details on the SameDay Bot are available here.
The FedEx SameDay Bot also made an appearance last night on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon last night (see video, below).
This isn’t the first foray into robotics for Pizza Hut. Late last year, the company announced working with Toyota on creating a “mobile pizza factory” that includes a robotic arm for making pizza while on the road to a customer’s doorstep. Other companies, including Zume Pizza and Domino’s Pizza, have explored the concept of using robots and drones to make and deliver pizzas as well.
Beyond pizza, the last-mile delivery space continues to remain a hot market, as companies such as Nuro, Starship, Robby Technologies, Boxbot and others have progressed with pilot programs around the world. Earlier this month, Research and Markets projected a $34 billion market for delivery robots by 2024, with a compound annual growth rate of 19.15% between 2018 and 2024.