Check Out This Cool But Creepy Amazon Delivery Robot
The robots are coming! The robots are coming!by Jonathan Lopez, on
Look, we all know you absolutely must have that order of novelty toilet paper and oversized truck nuts as quickly as possible. After all, that’s why you signed up for Amazon Prime, right? Well, as a follow-up to the retail giant’s flying delivery drone concept, it looks like Amazon may shoot for something a little more down to Earth, namely six-wheeled autonomous delivery robots.
Come With Me If You Want Your Merchandise
The above video shows what Amazon has in mind - a branded, self-driving robot that skirts its way across public sidewalks to make the final-mile delivery of a package right at the recipient’s doorstep. The individual then walks up to the robot, flips the lid, and grabs their package.
It’s called the Amazon Scout, and it’s the company’s latest effort to streamline the delivery process even further through the inclusion of robotic technology.
Details are scant, but Amazon does say the Scout measures in with relatively small exterior dimensions, likening it to the size of a small cooler.
Amazon also says the Scout uses an electric motor and battery pack for propulsion. That means it’s not really that fast, but it can make deliveries at roughly the same rate as a human at walking pace.
It’s certainly an interesting idea, but Amazon isn’t the first to try and make this kind of thing a reality. For example, companies like PepsiCo and Domino’s Pizza are already experimenting with similar concepts, while Marble and Starship Technologies have been developing the idea for years now.
For now, Amazon is conducting limited testing of the Scout concept in Snohomish County, Washington. Rather than letting the robots loose all on their own, the prototype Scouts will have a human supervisor acting as chaperone to make sure nothing goes awry.
Is This The Future? What’s Holding It Back?
Really, all it takes is the success of one company to catapult this kind of thing into the mainstream.
However, there are a few questions left unanswered.
For example, what’s to prevent folks from stealing the package from the robot? Granted, package thieves are as prevalent as ever these days, but how will the robot figure out who the rightful recipient is? Will the flip-up compartment be locked until they are properly identified?
Here’s another scenario - let’s say something malfunctions in the robot’s navigation and it scoots right in front of a car. Who’s at fault in that scenario?
What if there’s something in the robot’s way, like a knocked-over trashcan or a tree branch? Will it reroute, or attempt to climb over the obstacle? Or what if the robot gets wet, or there’s bad weather, or there’s ice and snow on the sidewalk?
What if a curious dog nudges the robot onto its side?
Or how about the likelihood no one is home to pick up the package? Will it be able to leave it on the porch, or will it have to reattempt delivery some other day?
Thinking more maliciously, if I was a bored 13 year-old, I’d probably try to think of ways to screw with the robot, putting stuff in its way, directing it into traffic, and all the other dumb things we do as children.
That all said, I’m just a writer, not a robotics engineer, so I’m sure the folks on top of this are already considering all that.
One last note - does anyone else find it kinda funny to think about a highly advanced piece of robotics technology, with cutting-edge sensors and the ability to drive itself, all of which was developed at huge cost - just to deliver a hat for your dog?
Ah, oh well, there it is. Welcome to 2019.