Amazon.com Inc. will use robots to deliver packages in the suburbs north of Seattle, its latest experiment to automate the last-mile of delivery that's a labor-intensive and costly component of buying products online. The e-commerce giant on Wednesday announced a trial of "Amazon Scout," autonomous delivery devices the size of a cooler that roll along sidewalks at a walking pace. It will use six robots, which are designed to navigate around obstacles such as people and pets, to deliver packages in Snohomish County. The robots will be used to make deliveries Monday through Friday during daylight hours. Using robots to make deliveries outside on city streets will be much more challenging than most current common uses, such as moving items around in warehouses, hospitals and hotels that are well-lit and have level floors, said Dan Kara, vice president of robotics at WTWH Media.
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.
Don't be surprised if you see a drone outside on your doorstep this summer. Federal regulators want to begin using drones for'limited package deliveries' as soon as within the next few months, according to the Wall Street Journal. Officials have been working with Silicon Valley tech giants and aerospace companies to develop proposals, rewrite regulations and address safety concerns, as part of an effort to make the technology a reality. A drone delivers an Amazon package to customers in Germany. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) made similar promises last year, but their efforts were stymied by growing concerns from local and national law-enforcement agencies.
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."
To the editor: The article addresses many issues regarding classifying Amazon's delivery drivers as employees or contractors, but the bigger issue is barely addressed with a sentence that refers to drivers "who speed around major cities." ("Amazon drivers say they are pushed to the limit as holiday deliveries reach a frenzy," Dec. 16) The "army of people" speeding through our residential streets to make their deliveries within their allotted time pose serious safety problems. Los Angeles traffic makes it virtually impossible for the drivers to meet their deadlines. Every day I see delivery trucks speeding 40 mph down narrow streets with cars on both sides. Who is responsible for reducing the likelihood of an accident? To the editor: The Times' detailed reporting on the plight of drivers for Amazon reinforces a familiar lesson about the human costs of unregulated capitalism.