If you live in Atlanta, Georgia or Franklin, Tennessee, your next Amazon order might arrive in one of the company’s Scout delivery robots. Amazon began testing its cooler-sized delivery bots in Snohomish County, Washington last year. They’ve been making deliveries in the Irvine area of California, and this week they popped up in Atlanta and Franklin.
Only a handful of Amazon Scout devices will operate in each city. They’ll be accompanied by a human, travel at walking speed and make deliveries Monday through Friday, during daylight hours. Customers will place their Amazon orders as usual, and there won’t be any additional cost for Scout deliveries.
Scout has successfully navigated around objects on the sidewalk -- from dogs to refrigerators left for pickup and surfboards. We still don’t know how it will verify who is opening its storage hatch or how it will unload packages if no one is there to collect them. For now, its human assistant will take care of that.
Amazon says the battery-powered bots fit into its goal of reaching net zero carbon by 2040 and that it will partner with schools in Atlanta and Franklin to support STEM and robotics activities. The company has corporate offices and logistics facilities in both areas. It's that kind of far-reaching footprint that could give Amazon an advantage over competitors like Postmates and Alibaba, which are also working on delivery robots.