Amazon launches autonomous delivery service using six-wheeled robots
Amazon's aspirations when it comes to autonomous deliveries are well-known, but much of the buzz has surrounded its Prime Air service that would rely on drones to deliver packages through the air. The company has today kicked off trials using ground-based robots instead, which will start rolling down the sidewalks of a Washington neighborhood using autonomous navigation to reach their destination.
While perhaps not as exciting as the notion of drone couriers, ground-based robots are emerging as a viable, and perhaps more realistic in the short-term, pathway for autonomous deliveries. Earlier this month, Pepsi introduced a set of self-driving vendors at a California university, and just yesterday Starship Technologies launched a trial at Virginia's George Mason University where its six-wheeled robots will deliver customer's food across the campus.
Amazon's all-electric solution, named Scout, bears more than a subtle resemblance to Starship's robots. It too has six wheels, is around the size of a cooler and travels along at walking pace. It can autonomously follow a delivery route and, according to Amazon, safely navigate around pets, pedestrians and other obstacles it may encounter.
Six of them will now go to work delivering packages for Amazon's customers in Snohomish County, Washington from Monday to Friday during daylight hours. Though they are designed to do this autonomously, they will initially be accompanied by an Amazon employee as they go about their business.
You can see Scout in action in the video below.