The dream of having a robot deliver packages to your home is now real, provided you live in the right part of the UK. Starship Technologies has launched a ground-based robot package service (the first in the world, according to the company) in Milton Keynes. You have to tell companies to ship to a Starship facility instead of your usual destination, but after that it's just a matter of using a mobile app to schedule a robotic delivery at a convenient time. You can track the bot in the app if you're anxiously awaiting an order. You won't have to wait long to try this on the other side of the Atlantic.
If you live in Washington, D.C., or Redwood, Calif., you may have glimpsed a small, boxy robot rolling along a local sidewalk, minding it's own business, but attracting the attention of many a curious onlooker. The autonomous machines -- which look like the spawn of an Igloo Cooler and a slow cooker -- were part of a pilot program last year by Starship Technologies focused on delivering meals from local restaurants in dozens of cities around the world. This week, the company unveiled plans to broaden its delivery service beyond food to include packages, a move that led it to declare itself "the world's first robot package delivery service." "Today, more than ever, people lead busy and diverse lives," Lex Bayer, Starship's chief executive, said in a statement online. "The hassle of needing to rearrange your life for a delivery will become a thing of the past. No more having to switch your working from home day, reschedule meetings, visit a locker, drive to a post office or contact a courier all because of a missed delivery."
Amazon is rolling out self-driving delivery robots. The internet giant announced Wednesday that six'Scout' robots will deliver packages to customers in a neighborhood in Snohomish County, Washington. Each Scout robot is a squat, bright blue device that gets around on six wheels. The battery-powered devices about the size of a small cooler and can deliver packages autonomously. And city or suburban dwellers don't have to worry about Scout running them over on the street, as Amazon says the robots'roll along sidewalks at a walking pace.'
Amazon's ever-expanding retail empire is going to need more workers and vehicles to get millions of packages to shoppers' doors. To do so, the web retailer is encouraging people to start their own delivery businesses. For those in the U.S. willing to strike out on their own in the service of the e-commerce giant, Amazon will offer financial and operational support, the Seattle-based company said in a statement. Startup costs can be as low as $10,000 and they will get access to discounted trucks, uniforms, fuel, insurance and other resources, Amazon said. Amazon has been working on ways to expand delivery capacity, from leasing its own cargo planes to experimenting with drones.
With the introduction of its latest delivery drone iteration, the Scout, Amazon is once again reassuring the shopping public that automated package delivery services are just just around the corner. Just as they've been promising since 2013, when founder Jeff Bezos went on 60 Minutes and claimed that the technology would be commonplace within 5 years. But unfortunately for his predictions, the march of progress rarely sticks to a set schedule. Over the past half decade, a litany of companies worldwide have sought to build and deploy dozens of drone-based delivery services, with varying degrees of success. Last May, Ele.me, Alibaba's online meal ordering service, began using drones in Jinshan Industrial Park to get meals to mouths in just 20 minutes, a fraction of the time it'd take a human courier to drive through Shanghai traffic.