Amazon halts trials of delivery robot and reassigns staff as company adjusts to slowing retail sales growth
Amazon is to end field tests of its Scout delivery robot after about three years, as the company adjusts to slowing sales.
The company said it wasn’t abandoning the Scout programme altogether but would reassign its staff, offering them other roles within the organisation.
About 400 people were working on the project worldwide, Bloomberg reported, citing an unnamed person familiar with the matter.
A few people will continue to consider the idea of an autonomous delivery robot after active field testing is halted, the report said.
‘Not meeting needs’
Amazon said in a statement to Silicon UK that the current iteration of Scout was not “meeting customers’ needs”.
“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,” the company 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.”
Amazon began testing the Scout robots, which are about the size of an ice chest, in residential areas around Seattle in 2019 and later expanded into Southern California, Georgia and Tennessee.
The robots, which were accompanied by human minders during tests, were designed to approach a home and then pop open their lids to allow customers to receive a package.
Amazon recently discontinued Glow, a child-focused video calling device, has paused hiring for its corporate retail teams and is shutting down telehealth service Amazon Care after purchasing health care provider One Medical.
Other experimental Amazon projects include deliveries via flying drones, till-less stores and a planned satellite-based internet service.