From pipe dream, to marketing ploy, to actual delivery robot? The Amazon Scout robot has been as much of a talking point as the Amazon delivery drones, however the scout is the first to be rolled out to look at last mile delivery.
After launching early last year, Amazon has limited Scout to select markets, namely Irvine, California and Snohomish County, which neighbors King County, home of Amazon’s corporate HQ in Washington state.
According to Amazon, Scout has been a useful tool as the company’s essential worker status has allowed it to maintain operations during the COVID-19 shutdown. Accompanied by human “Scout Ambassadors,” the small-sized robots have meant that the company has still been able to continue operations during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Two New States To Welcome Scout
Starting this week, Scout is set to expand operations to two cities in the American Southeast: Atlanta, Georgia and Franklin, Tennessee. In both cases, Scout’s deliveries will continue to be fairly modest, targeting “select customers” in those cities.
Amazon, like all companies in the robotic delivery game, understand the need to be deliberate in their expansion plans. Many larger cities, including New York and San Francisco, have been hesitant to the concept, due to largely over crowded sidewalks. Amazon’s expansion has largely targeted more residential communities. Atlanta is certainly an exception to this rule, as the company determines how Scout manages different terrain and different challenges geographically.
Amazon is also quick to address any safety concerns in their latest announcement, stating;
“Amazon Scout delivery devices are built to be inherently safe. They’re the size of a small cooler and move at a walking pace. Each delivery device can navigate around pets, pedestrians, and other objects (including surfboards!) in its path.”
Likely many councils in cities with higher populations will continue to approach the topic with caution and will be watching carefully to see how successful this roll out is.
What do you think? Are robot deliveries a gimmick or the future of last mile eCommerce?