Amazon’s dopey looking delivery robots—which have been roving around parts of California and Washington—are now being deployed in two more states, and they’re bringing their human babysitters along with them.
As part of an ongoing field test, Amazon’s wheeled delivery workers have already been making deliveries in Irvine and Snohomish County. Now, the bots are heading to Atlanta, Georgia and Franklin, Tennessee, where Amazon said they’ve already begun fulfilling orders. According to the company, the bots have continued to operate in tandem with its delivery partners throughout the duration of the pandemic.
Scout, a Wall-e-looking delivery courier about the size of a footstool, is meant to navigate around everyday objects it may encounter en route to its delivery destinations. It moves at a walking pace, but the robot is meant to detect unforeseen obstacles like pets, curbside recycles, and probably some very curious tiny humans. They work the typical Monday through Friday grind and service the including same-day, one-day, and two-day delivery options available to Prime members.
Amazon says the bots “are built to be inherently safe,” but they’re also accompanied by human companions referred to by Amazon as “Scout Ambassadors.” In the before times, these ambassadors were meant to be liaisons between Amazon and the communities that Scout serves, including by following up on questions and complaints about the program. It’s not clear, however, how that will work now in the midst of the pandemic.
Sure, ambassadors could, in theory, try to still maintain six feet of distance from other humans, but given that people can’t even police themselves in polite company, I imagine dealing with frustrated or curious strangers would be an absolute nightmare. When asked about its policies around protecting the human babysitters of its so-described “adora-bots” during a global health crisis, the company said they maintain six feet of distance and wear PPE. The wellbeing and safety of its workers is not something Amazon is particularly good at though, so…
In any event, if you happen to see a small, sky blue contraption with black tires rolling past your home, do not be alarmed. There’s a very good chance it’s there to deliver your toothpaste.
Added comment from Amazon.