Amazon first introduced its delivery robot in January last year. The autonomous six-wheeled robot, Scout, was first rolled out in Snohomish County, Washington, shortly followed by another site in Irvine, California and, since the pandemic, there has been a rise in interest in the technology.
Now, Amazon has declared it will be rolling out more Scout prototypes throughout the country, namely in Atlanta, Georgia and Franklin, Tennessee. It is clear that these are field tests, for now, but this technology has potential to be groundbreaking.
Announcing the expansion, Amazon wrote: “Amazon has been providing an essential service during the COVID-19 pandemic and working hard to get customers the products they need so they can continue to stay safe. Amazon Scout is quietly playing its part in this effort, too,” adding that “these devices have brought small moments of joy for communities staying at home”.
Adding two new communities to the trials, Amazon is allowing the Scout devices to operate in different environments, including climates and terrains, which is a vital step in rolling out the robots countrywide.
Amazon chose Franklin and Atlanta because they have a great presence in the area, but also because they’re hoping that they’ll find some world class talent to help them along. “…We’re looking forward to partnering with local schools near the areas where we operate in Atlanta and Franklin to support STEM and robotics activities, helping to build the next generation of innovators in both cities”.
For now, Amazon has a small number of Scouts operating Monday through Friday and, despite the AI allowing the machines to navigate autonomously, each Scout is accompanied by a human minder. While the technological advancements are exciting, most delivery services still rely on human drivers and it’s not clear how efficient Scouts will be when it comes to navigating busy streets outside of suburban neighborhoods.
Only time will tell, eh?