What is Amazon Scout?
Amazon Scout is a new delivery service that utilizes autonomous robots. In 2017, Amazon purchased a robotics company, called Dispatch. Dispatch was purchased in preparation for the Scout delivery system, though Amazon has kept the specifics quiet.
Along with the acquisition of Dispatch, came a plethora of AI expertise – exactly what Amazon wanted. Scout was created in Amazon’s labs, in Seattle, WA. Currently, the Scout program is still in its testing stage. Amazon Scout deliveries are being carried out in Snohomish County, WA. So far, Amazon has invested in six Scout delivery robots.
How does Amazon Scout work?
Amazon is committed to creating a top-notch delivery system that caters to its customers. To accomplish this, Amazon routinely invests in and acquires companies that will improve the entire shopping experience. Amazon has changed the e-commerce world by making it customer-centered.
Amazon first introduced Amazon Prime, which guarantees 2-day shipping. This was revolutionary at the time, as no other online retailer offered such a shipping commitment. Not to mention, millions of products can be shipped for free on Amazon. Today, Amazon is the #1 destination for online shoppers.
With the acquisition of Dispatch, Amazon created the Scout delivery system. Scout is a six-wheeled, cooler-sized robot that will deliver orders right to customer’s front doors. Though Amazon is essentially using Dispatch’s highly-successful robot, obstacles remain.
Some of the challenges that Scout poses:
1. The need for a nearby charging station.
2. The need for a nearby loading station.
3. Navigational Challenges - cities with crumbling or non-existent sidewalks, pedestrians, animals, staircases and curbs all pose logistical issues.
4. Uncertainty around Scout’s durability.
5. Weather conditions pose another potential problem.
6. Scout is a pricey bot - it could easily be stolen.
7. During trials, Scout will need to be manned by an Amazon employee – its unclear if this will be the case after trials.
Other Amazon Delivery Methods
Another delivery endeavor that Amazon has embarked upon is Key In-Car delivery. The delivery service, exclusively for Prime Members, utilizes an app to gain entry for delivery.
Members can use the app to unlock their house front door or car trunk for Amazon deliveries. While the service is currently offered, much skepticism surrounds the concept. Shoppers are often unsure about the idea of allowing a stranger into their home or car, for package delivery. Though Amazon offers a Happiness Guarantee, the delivery idea has received tons of backlash.
Even Amazon Can Fail
Amazon is the world-leader in e-commerce, but even Amazon can fail. Take Amazon’s drone delivery system, for example. In 2013, Bezos – Amazon’s CEO - announced the whole-hearted decision to pursue drone delivery. Amazon committed to releasing its delivery drone system within a 5-year window.
In 2016, the first drone delivery trials were carried out in the UK. In 2017, Amazon attempted to develop a drone that would scan the inside a people’s homes for delivery-purposes, along with filing for the necessary patent.
Despite the effort, drone delivery attempts were unsuccessful. The idea of delivery drones posed more issues than benefits. For one, drones require recharging every few hours. To combat this issue, an extremely large fleet of drones or conveniently-placed charging stations are needed. As of 2019, Amazon has not carried out a single drone delivery.