West Coast tech is coming to the American South.
In 2019, Amazon launched its robotic delivery system in Irvine, Calif., following a test-run north of Seattle where they were first developed by engineers and artificial intelligence experts. Dubbed the Amazon Scout, the electric, autonomous mobile machines can wheel through streets and sidewalks to deliver packages at customers’ doors.
Now, the online retail giant will bring the contactless delivery service to Atlanta and Franklin, Tenn. Facing demand for a hands-free hand-off of packages during the COVID-19 health crisis, execs at Amazon Scout hope that the service will bring some peace of mind to customers.
“Amazon Scout has continued to operate during the pandemic and helped us meet increased customer demand by supplementing our transportation network,” wrote Sean Scott, vice president of the division, in a blog post Tuesday. “Adding Atlanta and Franklin to our existing operations gives Scout devices the opportunity to operate in varied neighborhoods with different climates than they operate in today.”
The fact that both Atlanta and Franklin are hosts to Amazon corporate offices and inventory warehouses, according to the post, played into the decision to send a “small number” of devices to each city.
The blue bots are affixed with six wheels and a storage compartment where customers can reach inside to retrieve their shipment. They move at a walker’s pace, able to dodge pedestrians and other hurdles and arrive at their destination using pre-determined routes. At least initially, they will also be chaperoned by an “Amazon Scout Ambassador,” who will be there to ensure successful delivery.
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