Amazon Inc. is expanding testing of its delivery robot Scout, sending it into areas where human delivery staff might be vulnerable to COVID-19.
The six-wheeled, high-tech blue box will begin delivering packages to some locations in Atlanta, Georgia and Franklin, Tennessee, Amazon Scout Vice President Sean Scott wrote in a blog post published on Tuesday (July 21).
“At the start of 2020, Amazon Scout — our fully-electric delivery system designed to safely get packages to customers using autonomous delivery devices — was busy becoming fast friends with a variety of household objects. From surfboards, to luggage, to refrigerators, and even Christmas trees waiting to be picked up for recycling — our autonomous devices have navigated around all types of objects on the sidewalk,” Scott wrote.
“But a lot has changed these past few months,” he added. “Amazon has been providing an essential service during the COVID-19 pandemic and working hard to get customers the products they need so they can continue to stay safe. Amazon Scout is quietly playing its part in this effort, too.”
Scout already has been doing test deliveries Snohomish County, Washington, and around Irvine, California.
The robot is designed to be safe, Scott wrote. It moves at a walking pace and can navigate around pedestrians, pets and objects in its path.
In Georgia and Tennessee, Scott wrote, “Customers in both areas will order just as they normally would and their Amazon packages will be delivered either by one of our trusted carrier partners or by Amazon Scout … the devices will autonomously follow their delivery route, and initially be accompanied by an Amazon Scout Ambassador.”
As sleek as Scout is, Amazon may find impressing Southern shoppers difficult. A grocery chain in Alabama says it will begin making deliveries by drone this fall.
Amazon unveiled Scout in January of 2019 and began training the robots with detailed virtual maps, initially accompanied by Amazon employees.