Amazon’s Scout robot, a small machine that looks like a cooler and can navigate sidewalks, won’t be delivering anybody’s packages anymore. The e-commerce giant has shut down field testing for the experimental machine and is “reorienting” the program. According to Bloomberg, the Scout team has been disbanded and most of its 400 members will be offered new positions within the company. Amazon spokesperson Alisa Carroll told Reuters that the company will not be abandoning the project completely. Only a skeleton crew will remain to consider the use of autonomous robot for deliveries, though, and that could mean that it’s the end for the cooler-like Scout.
“During our Scout limited field test, we worked to create a unique delivery experience, but learned through feedback that there were aspects of the program that weren’t meeting customers’ needs. As a result, we are ending our field tests and reorienting the program. We are working with employees during this transition, matching them to open roles that best fit their experience and skills.”
Amazon started testing Scout back in 2019 and initially deployed six units to deliver packages north of Amazon’s Seattle home base. The machine can autonomously follow a delivery route, and though it was accompanied by a human employee for the tests, it can stop at a customer’s front door and open its lid to allow them to collect their purchase. After that initial rollout, Amazon expanded its tests to Southern California, Atlanta, Georgia and Franklin, Tennessee.
While Carroll didn’t say which exact aspects of the program “weren’t meeting customers’ needs,” this is but one of the recent moves Amazon has made that indicates it’s scaling back its experimental projects. Just a few days ago, it also killed the Glow kid-focused video calling device, possibly due to lackluster sales.
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