Amazon is ending field tests of its autonomous Scout delivery robot nearly four years after it unveiled the machine.
The company told Bloomberg on Thursday that during the tests, it learned there were “aspects of the program that weren’t meeting customers’ needs” — company speak for, “This really isn’t working out.”
Amazon said that as a result, it is ending the field tests of the wheel-based robot and “reorienting the program,” adding that it’s aiming to match workers involved in the project to other roles that suit their experience and skills.
Company spokesperson Alisa Carroll insisted to Reuters that it was not abandoning the project altogether, though Thursday’s development does rather suggest that Scout has already made its final delivery.
The web behemoth unveiled Scout in 2019, showing off a self-driving vehicle with a slew of sensors for safe navigation and a secure box for packages. It touted it as a last-mile delivery robot that would bring orders right to your door (or, let’s be honest, a little bit farther away if there were steps or an elevator to navigate).
One of the first trials of Scout took place in a neighborhood in Snohomish County, Washington, using six of the robots. To reduce the chances of Scout suffering any kind of major mishap, the machine was accompanied by a human chaperone. The ultimate plan was, of course, to have Scout going solo, but Thursday’s news suggests it’s now going nowhere.
Amazon’s Scout robot looked remarkably like Starship Technologies’ own delivery robot, which has been in development since 2014. Unlike Scout, Starship’s effort is still trundling about, and to date has been tested in around 100 cities in 20 countries around the world, including the U.S. Unlike Scout, Starship’s robot focuses primarily on deliveries inside enclosed areas like college campuses.
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