Amazon reveals six-wheeled ‘Scout’ delivery robot | Science & Tech News

Amazon has revealed its new six-wheeled delivery drone called “Scout” which it claims started delivering packages in Snohomish County, Washington, this week.

The devices are about the size of a small cooler, says Amazon, and “roll along sidewalks [pavements] at a walking pace” as displayed by the lavishly shot advertising video accompanying the release.

Amazon says Scout is “designed to safely get packages to customers using autonomous delivery devices” although it isn’t clear how autonomous the device is, and whether that autonomy amounts to more than a programmed path for it to drive along.

An Amazon Scout robot
Despite the video, the delivery vehicles will initially be accompanied by Amazon staff

The company says Scouts will “initially be accompanied by an Amazon employee” when they drive around, and adds they are able to “safely and efficiently navigate around pets, pedestrians and anything else in their path”.

In the advertising video, the receiver of one package has to walk out of her house to collect it. The Scout for her without any obvious authentication mechanism which she uses to unlock it. The lid seems thin and not particularly resistant to burglary.

An Amazon Scout robot
Amazon Scout devices are about the size of a cooler

Although at times Amazon seems like retail giant with a very successful website more than a technology company, the growth of its cloud hosting arm Amazon Web Services and its investment in developing delivery devices gives it solid silicon valley credentials.

The company is conducting similar trials in locations around the world, with more protected environments such as college and industrial campuses providing a valuable use-case for pre-programmed or self-directing delivery vehicles.

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