Amazon Tests Delivery Robots

The e-commerce company is using robots to deliver the last mile in a Seattle suburb.

January 25, 2019

SEATTLE – Amazon has started a pilot of delivery robots in a Seattle suburb, Bloomberg reports. The company is using six “Amazon Scout” autonomous delivery devices around the size of a cooler to deliver the last mile to customer homes. The robots, which are designed to roll on sidewalks at the speed of a person walking, will make the deliveries during daylight hours Monday to Friday.

Robot deliveries outside on the street or sidewalk can be more challenging because of the terrain, weather and people the device might encounter. “These might work in a brand new neighborhood that is well lit and has new sidewalks, but most of the world isn’t like that and neither is most of the United States,” said Dan Kara, vice president of robotics at WTWH Media. “Congratulations for experimenting, but in terms of full implementation, I don’t see that any time soon.”

Amazon already employs robots in its warehouses for inventory movement and delivery by drone. In 2018, Amazon debuted a program allowing people to begin their own delivery business to increase capacity and lower the company’s dependence on FedEx and UPS. 

Other companies have been working on similar delivery methods. For example, PepsiCo is testing robot delivery on a college campus. Last month, Kroger launched what it calls the first-ever autonomous vehicle delivery service for the general public from its Fry’s Food Store in Scottsdale, Arizona.