Amazon’s roving six-wheeled delivery workers are headed to the sidewalks of California, and they’re bringing their human babysitters with them.
The company announced in a blog post on Tuesday that the robot, a black and sky blue courier named Scout, will start delivering packages in Southern California beginning with a “small number” in Irvine. The rollout is a continuation of its ongoing field testing that kicked off in Snohomish County, Washington earlier year.
Amazon customers can place orders normally online “and their Amazon packages will be delivered either by one of our trusted carrier partners or by Amazon Scout.” Scout deliveries will be limited to daytime on weekdays, but the company said same-day, one-day, and two-day delivery options will be available. They will also be accompanied by “ambassadors,” who will function as a liaison between Amazon and community members.
A job listing posted three months ago on LinkedIn for a Scout ambassador in Seattle outlined several crucial responsibilities of the human companions to Amazon’s cooler-sized delivery devices. In addition to transporting and accompanying Scout to delivery regions—the company noted workers must be willing to “stand and walk for up to 10 hours a day”—human workers were also expected to follow up on concerns, questions, and other feedback from community members in the area.
By all indications, this means community members of test regions where Scout has been deployed have some say in how the program evolves. The bad news is that even if you hate them, robot delivery workers in some shape or another are an inevitability, as Amazon is hardly the only company deploying robot delivery workers. Obviously, don’t be a dick to Amazon workers who are probably not being treated any better by their employer than the robots.
But hey, the good news is Amazon’s bots don’t look like this.