Amazon is testing a new, fully electric delivery system called Amazon Scout. They designed the system to deliver packages safely to customers using autonomous delivery devices.
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These devices created by Amazon are the size of a small cooler and roll along sidewalks at a walking pace.
The field test, which started last week, will deliver packages to customers in a neighborhood in Snohomish County, Washington.
How Does Delivery by Amazon Scout Work?
Customers in Snohomish County order just as they normally would and their Amazon packages will be delivered either by one of Amazon’s standard carrier partners or by Amazon Scout.
There appears to be no way for customers to know at the time of the order if the package will arrive by Amazon Scout.
Amazon is starting with six Amazon Scout devices, delivering packages Monday through Friday, during daylight hours.
The devices will autonomously follow their delivery route but are accompanied by an Amazon employee.
The company developed Amazon Scout at their research and development lab in Seattle, ensuring the devices can safely and efficiently navigate around pets, pedestrians, and anything else in their path.
“We are delighted to welcome Amazon Scout into our community. Similar to Amazon, we are always looking for new ways to better deliver service to our residents. From the latest Amazon innovation to cutting edge technology, Snohomish County is a great place for entrepreneurial creativity.”Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers
This is clearly an experimental program. Even the video shows the customer leaving the house to retrieve the package from the device.
For this field test, it seems Amazon will always need an employee to follow the unit so they can place the package by the door if the customer is not home.
Don’t expect a huge rollout of autonomous Amazon Scout devices in other parts of the country yet. There is a lot of work to do, especially for deliveries when the customer is not present.
Still, it’s a pretty cool concept that could have some interesting uses down the road.
Update 2021: Amazon has launched a new development center in Helsinki to focus on autonomous delivery technology to such as Amazon Scout, suggesting the company sees a significant future in this kind of delivery.
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