Amazon’s Scout six-wheeled, sidewalk-driving delivery robots have begun making deliveries to customers in the Irvine, Calif. area. Amazon announced this first California deployment of Scout bots in a blog post, noting that in its experience to date, the company has had plenty of opportunity to experience a range of weather conditions in its first deployments in the Pacific Northwest in Seattle — so weather-wise, at least, the little blue bot should have a smoother time in sunny California.
There are only a “small number” of the robots currently deployed, so even if you’re an Irvine resident, don’t necessarily expect to get a glimpse of one just yet. But they will be making their way to customer homes “during daylight hours,” Monday to Friday, per Amazon. They’ll be sent out at random for orders placed by customers through Amazon as usual, regardless of which delivery option you select.
While the robots can drive themselves around, which is the whole point of the project to begin with, for the time being they’ll be accompanied by an “Amazon Scout Ambassador.” These Amazon staff are part diplomat, part research associate for the project, answering questions from people in the neighborhood and also taking note of their reactions. Robots aren’t yet actually interacting with people too much on a daily basis, especially out in the world, so a key part of rolling them out commercially is studying how people interact with them, and thinking about how those interactions might be altered or improved.
A lot of thought went into the initial Scout design, both in terms of making sure it’s able to survive the many miles it traverses during a day, and in coming up with a design that looks and feels at once approachable but also somewhat bland, so as to quickly evolve from novelty to standard neighborhood background scenery.