Just a little bit shorter than Wall-E, Amazon.com’s little delivery bot has been called Amazon Scout. The six-wheeled robot will be making deliveries during pilot tests in Washington’s Snohomish County.
For the beginning, six of the little Scout autonomous vehicles involved in the pilot tests have to be accompanied by an adult, specifically, an Amazon employee. The Scouts can get around at a walking pace and will only have to make deliveries during daylight hours from Monday to Friday.
The six-wheeled robot is about the size of a portable cooler and bears the Prime logo. The company said that their delivery device was developed at its research-and-development lab in Seattle and can safely negotiate its way around pedestrians, pets, or objects in its path.
Customers wanting a visit from an Amazon Scout in Snohomish County must order items from Amazon, as they might normally do. Their package orders get taken by one of Amazon’s carrier partners or by Amazon Scout. When the little bot arrives at their address, its lid flips open and the customer their order out of the body of the vehicle. Scout then carries on its way.
Scout is not alone. Several other large retailers are delivering products with driverless vehicles. Walmart has been delivering groceries this way. In one of the Walmart pilot tests, Waymo (which used to be Google’s autonomous car project), sends a driverless vehicle picks customers up from their homes and takes them to the store to collect whatever they have ordered online.
In another version, what Robomart and Stop & Shop have described as a “self-driving grocery store,” an autonomous device, or vehicle, carries an assortment of produce, meals, snacks and convenience items directly to customers. The technology here is called “Grab-and-go” whereby the vehicle automatically records the products that the customer has selected and charges them.