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.
Amazon might want to consider placing more of its delivery drivers in uniforms, based on a comment from one of its higher-profile customers. Ice T, the rapper who later became a TV star on "Law & Order: SVU," posted a tweet on Tuesday claiming he almost shot one of the tech giant's drivers who was "creeping up to my crib" the night before to complete a delivery. "Message To Amazon: Now that you have regular people making your home deliveries.. Maybe they should wear a Vest with AMAZON DELIVERY on it," said Ice T on Twitter. In a follow-up tweet, Ice T said he wasn't mad at the delivery person but noted it's not safe for the drivers to operate without some type of uniform. Message To Amazon: Now that you have regular people making your home deliveries.. Maybe they should wear a Vest with AMAZON DELIVERY on it..... Amazon customer service reached out to Ice T on Twitter, saying his comments would be escalated to the company's logistics team for review.
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."