If you are one of the 800,000 people that live in Snohomish County, Washington, you may soon see one of the first 6-wheeled Amazon delivery vehicles out for a stroll in your neighborhood. These cooler-sized package delivery devices are referred to as Scouts and to my eye, look very similar to one of Anki’s adorable robots.
Amazon Scouts are capable of self-navigating down sidewalks and delivering packages to the proper destinations while rolling at an average walking pace. Scouts do not appear have a ton of room inside, so do not expect to see them when ordering hefty or bulky items.
The launch and rollout of Amazon Scout was rather abrupt. The new delivery vehicles were announced earlier along with a statement that Scouts will begin delivering packages immediately. The only bad part with this approach is that residents of Snohomish County may be caught off guard since they may not have heard of Scouts prior to seeing one for the first time.
Amazon is taking things slow by starting with just six Scouts at launch. Just like many other couriers, Scouts will initially be scheduled to work Monday through Friday. They will only work during daylight hours and will initially be accompanied by an Amazon employee (a human, of course).
“We are delighted to welcome Amazon Scout into our community. Similar to Amazon, we are always looking for new ways to better deliver service to our residents”, Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers said, “From the latest Amazon innovation to cutting edge technology, Snohomish County is a great place for entrepreneurial creativity.”
Who will see Scouts?
Since Scorts do not appear to be made for off-road travels, it is likely they will only deliver to homes with sidewalks. Outside of that, nobody in Snohomish County is excluded that we are aware of.
The company called out that customers using either the Amazon app or Amazon.com are eligible to have a package delivered by a Scout. Delivery options ranging from same-day to two-day Prime shipping will also qualify.
Scouts were created at Amazon’s research and development lab in Seattle. During this time, Amazon employees went to great lengths to ensure that Scout vehicles will be able to deliver packages safely. A specific example provided by Amazon include safe navigation around pets, people, or anything else that may stand be in front of a Scout.
Amazon plans to use the time spent in Snohomish County to learn how it can make Scout better. Throughout its announcement, Amazon continuously mentioned the convenience Scout would bring to customers, but never called out the effect it could have on its partner carriers.
In order for carriers like USPS to stay relevant in this space, they will need to be on the lookout for new ways to innovate. UPS’ recent partnership with Latch for in-apartment deliveries shows that it is a courier that does not plan to rest on its laurels.