AMAZON HAS taken the covers off its latest efforts towards autonomous delivery.
Amazon Scout is a six-wheeled box ('hamper' officially) which can trundle along the pavements under its own steam, much in the same way that companies like JustEat have been trialling in London's fashionable Greenwich borough.
Interestingly, Scout actually looks remarkably like… well, just about every other autonomous delivery robot we've seen, actually, but then, how different can they be?
The arrival of Scout is concurrent to ongoing plans for Amazon to do last mile deliveries from the air, too, with a fleet of drones currently testing in selected parts of the US, as well as a pilot running in rural Cambridgeshire.
Currently, there are six Scout devices delivering to a test area in Snohomish County, Washington State, delivering solely in the hours of daylight (you really don't want to trip over one of these bad boys when you're walking the dog.
In fact, at least for now, Scout will have a human master walking at a respectful pace beside it, to ensure it can "safely and efficiently navigate around pets, pedestrians and anything else in their path."
If that seems to defeat the object, of course, that won't be the way it works forever, but lest we forget the 1865 Red Flag act in the early days of the automobile, which required a maximum speed of 4mph (2 in the city) and a man walking in front with a red flag, should the vehicle be hauling anything.
In short - things will move on.
As for when, it's difficult to say and will depend largely on how these early trials go, but we could see autonomous last mile Amazon deliveries become commonplace, long before the drone legislation takes the message to the skies. μ
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