Amazon Announced on Wednesday that they would start shipping parcels using a six-wheeled sidewalk robot named Amazon Scout.
The announcement went: “Starting today, these devices will begin to provide packages to customers near snowhomish County, Washington.” Amazon said its robot “has only one small cooler and can roll on the sidewalk at the speed of the sidewalk.”
Amazon is not the first company to conduct sidewalk robot experiments. Emerging Companies like Starship and Marble have tested the concept for several years. However, as the largest retailer on the Internet, Amazon has the potential to quickly make sidewalk delivery robots a mainstream phenomenon.
Amazon said: “We start with six Amazon Scout devices and provide packages during the day from Monday to Friday.” “These devices will automatically follow their delivery routes, but will initially be accompanied by Amazon employees.”
An Amazon patent application in 2016 described a model whose small and medium sidewalk robots carry bags from the customer’s address of a full-size delivery truck. Starships have tried a similar method, using full-size trucks as “motherships” to transport up to eight pedestrian unmanned aircraft fleets and packages nearby. Then, a worker transferred the parcel from the truck to the unmanned plane on the sidewalk, and then continued to put the parcel on the address of each customer.
Of course, to make this model work properly, the organization of package delivery needs to be reconsidered. Now, Amazon hires people to put the parcel on the front porch of the customer, leaving them unattended until the customer comes home and collects it. But the unmanned aerial vehicles on Amazon’s sidewalk do not seem to be designed to put down the package. Instead, the video accompanying the announcement showed that the Amazon robot pulled the robot to the door of the customer’s home and the customer came out to meet the UAV.
Therefore, perhaps Amazon will send a truck to the nearby community full of parcels. After the truck arrives, it may inform the customer that it is nearby, so that the customer can ask for accurate delivery time in the next few hours. If there are no customers on the day, the truck can keep the package and try again the next day.
This seems to be a more complex model, but it will reduce package theft, and if it enables delivery personnel to deliver more packages every day, it may become more efficient. It may also be accompanied by changes in shopping behavior. Customers may not be used to ordering products and hoping to appear on the porch a few days later, but to placing orders in the morning and expecting to collect orders from sidewalk robots that night.
To be clear, I am only speculating here. Amazon’s announcement does not provide many details about how to load sidewalk robots or how the company ensures that customers can pick up goods when the robots arrive. The announcement states that customers will “order as usual and their Amazon packages will be delivered by one of our trusted partner carriers or by Amazon Scout.” Amazon said that customers would “enjoy the same delivery method, including fast and free delivery on the day, day and day”, but did not specify how these options work with delivery robots. Amazon said on Wednesday that it would start shipping parcels using a six-wheeled sidewalk robot named Amazon Scout.