Amazon is throttling back on its Scout robot — the company’s version of those rolling coolers that can be seen puttering along sidewalks making deliveries.
A spokeswoman for the e-commerce behemoth told me field tests will end but the program isn’t being shut down, even though many team members will be reassigned to new gigs within the company.
“During our limited field test for Scout, we worked to create a unique delivery experience, but learned through feedback that there were aspects of the program that weren’t meeting customers’ needs,” Alisa Carroll said.
“As a result, we are ending our field tests and reorienting the program. We are working with employees during this transition, matching them to open roles that best fit their experience and skills.”
It’s a striking development. On the one hand, many retailers are testing out this delivery technology, trying to determine if it’s feasible and cost-effective.
On the other, well, if Amazon can’t make these goofy-looking robots work, who can?
The machines are intended to autonomously find their way from a store or restaurant to customers, and then make their way back again.
Anyone who has encountered one on a sidewalk knows they’re a weird addition to the urban landscape — and seemingly a pricey way of delivering goods.
Amazon started testing the contraptions in 2019. It took just three years for the company to decide they’re not ready for prime time.
Will other businesses reach the same decision? That remains to be seen.
Industrial robots already have a place in the workforce. It seems short-sighted to think robots won’t play an ever-greater role in society.
But these rolling ice chests? Maybe not so much.