Amazon's Delivery Robots May Soon Be Knocking At Your Door

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Amazon's Scout robots are being tested in Snohomish County, Washington and Irvine, California (Credit: Amazon.com)

With self-driving vehicle technology rapidly advancing, many companies are turning to autonomous robots for the final leg — the so-called last mile — of the delivery process, from the store or local distribution center to the customer. The latest to join the trend is e-commerce giant Amazon. Following a successful eight-month test run in Snohomish County, Washington, the company's Scout robots have been making the rounds of Irvine, California, since August 6, 2019.

The six-wheeled Scout, which sports Amazon's familiar Prime logo, is about the size of a large cooler with the capacity to carry small or medium-sized packages. The battery-powered vehicle, which moves at a regular walking pace, has been programmed to avoid pedestrians, animals, and unexpected obstacles, such as garbage cans. Its powerful sensors can also detect the movement of a car backing out of a driveway.

Customers can unlock Scout's cargo bay using a unique code that is texted to them prior to the delivery (Credit: Amazon.com)

To accelerate Scout's development and bring it nationwide sooner, the company has created several detailed virtual maps of American suburbs and conducted simulated deliveries to homes there. “We can run thousands of deliveries in simulation overnight versus taking a bot outside in the real world,” Scout VP Sean Scott told The Verge. “The bot doesn’t actually know it’s in a simulation. It thinks it’s in the real world, which is pretty cool.”

Though Amazon has not revealed how Scout ensures the delivery is picked up by the right person, it most likely requires the customer to apply a unique code, texted to them prior to the delivery, to unlock the cargo bay. Also unclear is the number of deliveries Scout can complete before its battery needs to be recharged. Though the initial tests are being conducted with a human in tow, the robot will be autonomous in the future. Its location, however, will be tracked at all times — if someone attempts to steal Scout, Amazon employees will be instantly alerted.

Starship Technologies plans to deploy thousands of food delivery robots to college campuses across the US (Credit: Starship Technologies)

While Amazon is focusing on home deliveries, San Francisco-based Starship Technologies has its eyes set on college students. On August 20, 2019, the company announced plans to deploy thousands of robots to deliver food and other items to students at college campuses across the country. Unlike Scout, Starship's eponymous bots are seasoned workers with extensive street experience. They have been tested in over 100 cities in 20 different countries, traversed 350,000 miles, crossed 4 million streets, and successfully completed over 100,000 deliveries.

Meanwhile, food and grocery delivery company Postmates' bug-eyed robots are currently making their rounds along the busy San Francisco streets. Also in test-mode, the robots can carry up to 50 lbs and travel 30 miles on a single battery charge.

The bug-eyed Postmates robots can carry up to 50 lbs and travel 30 miles on a single battery charge (Credit: Postmates)

Though the eco-friendly robots will help free our streets of bicycles, motorized scooters, and large delivery trucks that typically ferry packages, they have some limitations. They are unable to climb stairs or open gates, which means that they can only reach consumers who live on the ground level. Additionally, the robots are unable to leave packages at the front door if the customers are not home. Whether these issues get resolved remains to be seen. For now, it appears that humans will still be needed to fulfill the ever-growing demand for home and office deliveries.

Resources: The Verge.com, Cnet.com,Wired.com

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1017 Comments
  • idk696969
    idk696969Tuesday, March 31, 2020 at 10:44 am
    This is just the beginning of the robots soon they will take over the world... First deliver mail then WORLD DOMINATION!!!
    • dannyboi
      dannyboiSunday, April 5, 2020 at 8:53 pm
      I thought about that a few times....
    • chimi
      chimiThursday, March 26, 2020 at 10:34 am
      omg that is so weird
      • daniela43347
        daniela43347Wednesday, March 25, 2020 at 8:03 am
        this is actually a good idea because of the corona virus and you wouldnt want people sneezing on the mail and food and other stuff butttttttttttttttttttttttt (big but) i wonder if it has a alarm or something to protect itself from the strangers because a giant robot is very visible to robbers so does it have a lock or something?
        • kotlcfitzphie12
          kotlcfitzphie12Thursday, March 12, 2020 at 5:39 pm
          What about the people who lose their jobs? AKA: Postmen and delivery guys.
          • daniela43347
            daniela43347Wednesday, March 25, 2020 at 8:09 am
            no that only happens when you buy something from amazon ONLY!!!!1!!!! so it will not replace mailman and delivery guys just like you said kot but i like your thinking
            • daniela43347
              daniela43347Wednesday, March 25, 2020 at 8:05 am
              no that only when you buy something from amazon
            • unicorn_crazy
              unicorn_crazyMonday, January 27, 2020 at 6:01 pm
              That is so cool! Although, it's really strange! If I see one of those at my door I think I'll be super surprised!😮
              • daniela43347
                daniela43347Wednesday, January 22, 2020 at 10:02 am
                wow amazon must make these really good for them to remember their coordinates they put on them and also how do they not get drived over? did they build them so big cars can see them? but i dont care cause im thinking i like this robot and might tell my mom about this so she can stop shopping! there always boring
                • randomthing
                  randomthingMonday, February 24, 2020 at 8:33 am
                  The robots have sensors that can see if they are in danger and they would get out of there as soon as possible
                • ada4
                  ada4Wednesday, January 15, 2020 at 4:34 pm
                  wow! now i'm only gonna shop from amazon!😊
                  • coolperson12321
                    coolperson12321Sunday, March 29, 2020 at 12:23 pm
                    only if you live in Seattle
                  • daniela43347
                    daniela43347Wednesday, January 15, 2020 at 12:56 pm
                    amazon is always coming up with stuff to make people buy more stuff from them
                    • becca7500
                      becca7500Wednesday, January 8, 2020 at 11:12 am
                      WOW!!!! I want to get a package delivered by one of these!!!!!
                      • aydenawesome3
                        aydenawesome3Monday, December 16, 2019 at 7:58 pm
                        amazon and fedex are friends