Scout, Amazon’s autonomous wheeled delivery bot, will start delivering packages today in Irvine, California, according to a blog post published by Amazon.
Scout bots will operate “Monday through Friday, during daylight hours,” according to the blog post. Customers in Irvine will order their packages as normal, including options for same-day delivery for Prime members. The cooler-sized, six-wheeled bots will autonomously follow their delivery route and, for now at least, be accompanied by a human being who can take over in the event of a problem.
Back in January, when Scout debuted near Amazon’s Washington State headquarters, my colleague Chris Albrecht noted that, “If Scout’s trial proves successful, Amazon’s involvement in the space will certainly light a fire under the existing competition and accelerate robot delivery.”
Today’s post from Amazon didn’t specifically mention food delivery, but it’s a realm in which Amazon operates and where, if Scout does indeed prove successful, the Seattle giant would certainly give the competition something to worry about.
And there’s plenty of competition to go around. Postmates’ Serve bot already, eh, serves Los Angeles, Miami, NYC, Chicago, and Phoenix. Kiwi and Starship are available on a growing number of college campuses, and Kiwi also just expanded its program to the city of Sacramento. Pepsi, too, has bots on campus in the form of an autonomous roving device by San Francisco-based company Robby.
Of course, both campuses and city streets contain obstacles for bots, which Amazon said in its blog post it has been testing Scout against for some time: “All the while, the devices have safely and autonomously navigated the many obstacles you find in residential neighborhoods—trashcans, skateboards, lawn chairs, the occasional snow blower, and more.”
Now they have to navigate an even tougher test than a snow blower: the human beings who will be both interacting with the bots as they accept packages and getting used to seeing the wheeled devices roving about the block. How that reception goes will give us a good idea of where Scout is headed — literally and figuratively — in the near future.