Amazon ends testing of Scout delivery robots

Amazon’s last-mile delivery robot, Scout. | Source: Amazon

Amazon is shutting down testing of its Scout home delivery robots, according to multiple reports. Bloomberg was first to report the news, saying “the e-commerce giant is starting to wind down experimental projects amid slowing sales growth.”

“During our Scout limited field test, 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,” an Amazon spokesperson told Bloomberg. “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.”

Amazon rolled out Scout in 2019 with tests in the Seattle area. It later expanded to Southern California, Atlanta, and Franklin, Tenn. The robots autonomously followed their delivery route via sidewalks and were accompanied by an Amazon Scout Ambassador during testing.

Amazon said the Scout team is being disbanded and employees will be offered new jobs in the organization. About 400 people were working on the project globally, according to Amazon.

Amazon quietly acquired Dispatch, a last-mile delivery company, in 2017. It used the company’s technology and expertise to create Scout.

There are a number of startups developing last-mile delivery robots that operate on sidewalks, including Starship Technologies, Serve Robotics, Coco, Tortoise, and more.

Despite shutting down the testing of Scout, Amazon continues to expand and invest in other types of robotics. In August 2022, Amazon agreed to acquire iRobot for $1.7 billion, which is more than double what it paid for Kiva Systems back in 2012. The FTC is currently investigating this deal, citing a number of potential issues.

In September 2022, Amazon announced it agreed to acquire Cloostermans, a Belgium-based company that specializes in mechatronics. Cloostermans has been selling products to Amazon since at least 2019, including technology Amazon uses in its operation to move and stack heavy pallets and totes and robots to package products for customer orders.

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