Amazon calls it a “fully electric delivery system,” but the rest of us will probably call it “that cute little delivery robot.”
Amazon Scout looks kind of like a six-wheeled cooler with a blue top and the company’s signature smile painted on the side. It moves about as fast as you would if you were out taking a stroll.
Amazon Scout is being tested now with customers living just north of Seattle. The company is using the autonomous robot to deliver packages. After customers place an order, Scout will make its way on its own from the warehouse to the delivery location. When it arrives at the destination, it goes straight to the front door and pops its top to allow customers to grab their package.
In the beginning, 6 devices will be deployed Monday through Friday, delivering packages during daylight hours. During the test phase, the company says Scout will be accompanied by an employee just to make sure everything goes smoothly, to make sure the bot can “safely and efficiently navigate around pets, pedestrians, and anything else in their path.”
Amazon’s floated several concepts over the years to make home deliveries more efficient. Focusing on that “last mile” from warehouse to home, the online retailer has tested ideas like drones, delivering to your car trunk, your garage, and even unlocking your door and placing packages inside your home.
Amazon isn’t the first company to test delivery bots. Marble has developed what they call “intelligent courier robots” to transport medicine, meals, and groceries. Kroger is testing self-driving Toyota Prius vehicles to deliver groceries. Kiwi Campus is delivering snacks and Pepsi products to students at the University of Pacific. UPS and DHL have experimented with bots and drone as well.