Amazon has taken the wraps off a new delivery robot that travels on sidewalks to bring packages to customers, the latest sign of how the e-commerce giant is tackling one of its biggest logistical challenges. Scout shows how Amazon is learning to build robots that can do the work of humans. Amazon is also building robots that could one day handle the jobs of human pickers in its e-commerce fulfillment warehouses, as we reported in October.
One question is whether Scout is a stopgap as Amazon waits for the Federal Aviation Administration to green-light testing of package delivery drones. CEO Jeff Bezos announced the drone project in a 2013 interview with 60 Minutes, estimating that it would take four to five years to complete. But with Scout, Amazon would only need approval from local governments, making them easier to deploy.