Amazon brings ‘Scout’ delivery robots to Seattle outskirts
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Amazon brings ‘Scout’ delivery robots to Seattle outskirts

Well, it’s finally happened – Amazon is introducing delivery robots, and it’s starting with the suburbs north of Seattle. Last Wednesday, the company announced that its new “Amazon Scout” delivery robots – which are about the size of a drinks cooler – would be delivering packages in Snohomish County. The robots will move at walking speed, are trained to avoid obstacles (including people and animals) and will operate in daylight hours Monday to Friday.

Amazon’s share price has increased by 13% so far this year

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Source: Yahoo Finance

Amazon isn’t the only company trialling robot deliverymen, but it’s probably one of the most experienced. It routinely uses robots in its network of warehouses to shift inventory around, and has been experimenting with the idea of delivery drones for years. However, getting a robot to shift crates around an open plan warehouse and getting it to drop off groceries on an American street are two very different things.

Dan Kara, vice president of robotics at WTWH Media, warns that any number of things – from extreme weather to steps – could make deliveries difficult for robots. He said: “These might work in a brand new neighbourhood that is well lit and has new sidewalks, but most of the world isn’t like that and neither is most of the United States. Congratulations for experimenting, but in terms of full implementation, I don’t see that any time soon.”

It is fair to say that delivery robots probably aren’t round the (metaphorical) corner. But the benefits to Amazon of getting a head start on this technology are obvious: less reliance on third-party delivery services like UPS and FedEx. And, as a result, greater control over the entire customer experience.

Disclosure
Dominion holds Amazon in its Global Trends Ecommerce Fund.


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