Amazon Begins Testing Delivery Robots

Prepare for Johnny 5 Amazon Scout.

On Wednesday, Amazon.com said its autonomous delivery robot, Amazon Scout, will begin delivering packages to a neighborhood in Snohomish County, Washington. The device, a prototype for a robotic delivery service so much needed by Amazon which has been struggling with "last mile" delivery, is the size of a small cooler and rolls along sidewalks at a walking pace.

According to a company statement, Amazon is starting with six Scout devices, delivering packages Monday through Friday during daylight hours; the devices will initially be accompanied by an Amazon employee.

It was not immediately clear what will happen if one of the "Scouts" causes a traffic accident, or worse, death, although we doubt that the company which is closest to monopolizing, well, pretty much everything, is wasting too much sleep over that possibility.

More details from the Amazon blog:

At Amazon, we continually invest in new technologies to benefit customers. We’ve been hard at work developing a new, fully-electric delivery system – Amazon Scout – designed to safely get packages to customers using autonomous delivery devices. These devices were created by Amazon, are the size of a small cooler, and roll along sidewalks at a walking pace. Starting today, these devices will begin delivering packages to customers in a neighborhood in Snohomish County, Washington.

How will 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 our trusted partner carriers or by Amazon Scout. Customers can shop on the Amazon App or amazon.com and enjoy the same delivery options including fast, FREE Same-Day, One-Day and Two-Day shipping for Prime members.

We’re starting with six Amazon Scout devices, delivering packages Monday through Friday, during daylight hours. The devices will autonomously follow their delivery route but will initially be accompanied by an Amazon employee. We developed Amazon Scout at our 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 excited to work with the community of Snohomish County as our initial partner for Amazon Scout. Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers shared the following with us: “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.”

While this is merely a testing prototype, the final design may look something like this.