Amazon.com Inc. today announced that its Amazon Scout robotic delivery services will be expanding to Atlanta and Franklin, Tenn. The Seattle-based company has already been testing the mobile robots in Snohomish County, Wash., and around Irvine, Calif.
Since the beginning of the year, Scout has been autonomously navigating around sidewalk obstacles, such as pets, pedestrians, and discarded Christmas trees, noted Sean Scott, vice president of Amazon Scout, in a blog post. The robot is part of the online retailer’s efforts to meet increased consumer demand during the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.
Amazon Scout field tests expand
“We are starting with a small number of Amazon Scout devices in each city, delivering Monday through Friday, during daylight hours,” said Scott. “Customers in both areas will order just as they normally would, and their Amazon packages will be delivered either by one of our trusted carrier partners or by Amazon Scout.”
He touted Amazon Scout’s safety, saying that the robot is the size of a small cooler and rolls at a walking pace. Although the mobile robots are autonomous, they will be accompanied by “Amazon Scout Ambassadors.” Such ambassadors have already received thank-you cards from children, Scott said.
The company chose Franklin and Atlanta because they have a different climate than Amazon Scout’s existing operations and because it already has a “significant presence in these areas through our corporate offices and logistics facilities,” wrote Scott. He added that the company will be looking for talent and to partner with schools in those cities.
Amazon pursues multiple routes to automated delivery
Last year, Scott announced that Amazon planned to expand Scout testing to Southern California. The company, whose Amazon Robotics unit has deployed tens of thousands of Kiva mobile robots in warehouses, has also been working on Prime Air for drone deliveries. It has not set a start date for Prime Air trials, citing the need for regulatory approvals. In addition, Amazon recently pledged to “net zero carbon by 2040.”
The global market for delivery robots will grow from $14.18 billion in 2019 to $54.3 billion by 2027, experiencing a compound annual growth rate of 18.2%, according to Selbyville, Del.-based Market Study Report LLC. Amazon is competing with last-mile companies including Starship Technologies Inc., Nuro Inc., and DEKA Development & Research Corp., which is working with FedEx Corp. on the SameDay Bot.