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Amazon brings roller-based delivery robots to Atlanta

Amazon today launches a limited service in Atlanta of its sidewalk robot delivery system.
Amazon today launches a limited service in Atlanta of its sidewalk robot delivery system.

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

Device is size of 'small cooler,' will travel on sidewalks

Amazon said today that it will start using its sidewalk robot delivery system in Atlanta, launching a “small number” of the robots to bring packages to “select customers.”

The system, already being tested in two other places in the U.S., will use devices “the size of a small cooler” that roll along at a walking pace, using technology that will permit them to avoid colliding with pets, people or other objects, according to a statement from the Seattle-based retail giant.

The device, the Amazon Scout, is electric powered and was designed by the company, Amazon said.

At least at first, the devices in Atlanta will be escorted by an Amazon employee and will travel “a short distance,” according to the company.

The Amazon Scout launched in January 2019 and is in operation in Snohomish County, Washington and the Irvine-area of California. Amazon says it has delivered tens of thousands of packages using the technology at the two locations.

The company provided scant details for Tuesday’s roll-out in Atlanta.

Amazon declined to say exactly where the devices will be operation, how far they will be traveling or which “select” customers will be getting the deliveries. The company said it has “the regulatory support needed to safely launch in the city,” but declined to offer specifics. It said there is no extra charge for the service.

Autonomous vehicles have been in the works for years. Amazon is in a race with other delivery companies to develop technology that will let them deliver packages more quickly and efficiently and – they plan – without a human accompaniment. The pandemic has given extra incentive to the idea.

Among the competitors is Sandy Springs-based UPS, which said in April that it would be using drones for deliveries of prescription medicines from a pharmacy to The Villages retirement community in Florida. Those drone flights were to be less than a half-mile, going from the pharmacy to a ground vehicle that would deliver the prescription to the resident’s door, the company said.