Amazon Robotics announces investment into a new Amazon Scout Development Center in Helsinki, Finland focused on autonomous package delivery solutions. The Amazon Robotics division is planning to hire more than a dozen engineers to staff the new development site and focus on innovations for last-mile delivery solutions.
Amazon is just one of several robot companies who are investing in ground-based last-mile autonomous delivery solutions. Amazon was one of the first ecommerce companies to offer free shipping, and also innovated with next day shipping options. but “free shipping” isn’t free. The costs of fulfilling an ecommerce order is built into the cost structure of the company, thus Amazon has all of the incentive to reduce the delivery costs.
Enter Amazon Scout.
The Amazon Scout is a six wheeled, electric delivery pod that is intended to deliver packages from a central drop point. Imagine either a centrally located facility in a neighborhood, where the Amazon scouts are loaded with customer packages and sent on their journeys to deliver the package to a customer. Alternatively, a larger “cargo” vehicle might drop several Scouts in the middle of a residential or urban neighborhood to complete the last mile delivery task. The concept has promise, however, there are still many obstacles to making this fulfillment concept a reality.
Amazon is investing in the new development center to work through the remaining challenges to commercializing the delivery pod concept. It is just on of several bets that the company is making to accelerate a breakthrough in fulfillment. Amazon has the incentive to remove costs and improve customer satisfaction at every step along the path from supplier to customer.