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The droids you’re looking for? Amazon delivery robots begin cruising Washington sidewalks

By Benjamin Bullard
Amazon Scout via official website 2019

There’s a video of this little guy in action below, and we think you’ll agree it’s just a little too slow-paced and pleasant. Sure, getting robot deliveries is cool, but maybe what Amazon’s new Scout courier bot really needs is a zippy Star Wars-style double-speed option — and an accompanying monologue of appropriately frenetic bleeps and bloops.

Amazon revealed this week that the Scout has begun robo-schlepping its precious retail cargo to customers in an unnamed neighborhood in Snohomish County, Washington — not far from Amazon’s Seattle home. The real delivery service, which is being conducted in a limited coverage area, marks the online giant’s trial run toward automating the final step in the shipping process.

Check the Scout out in action the trailer below, and imagine how cool this would all be if the video were running twice as fast, and if our diminutive pal were chirping and whirring a fussy, busy-sounding tune the whole way:

Yeah, it’s functional, but Amazon’s new toy could definitely do all this important work with a little more panache. Here, Scout — make like BB-8 in The Last Jedi and take a lesson from the original Death Star “toaster” droid. This is how you robot:

Amazon hasn’t divulged the finer points of the Scout’s operation — like how it magically knows who’s the real customer and who’s the thieving impostor, or how the stubby device makes it presence known at eye level if it has to navigate a really crowded sidewalk…or how it kicks things into high gear so it can run like hell if Chewbacca decides to give chase.

Amazon assures that the Scout can at least dodge basic obstacles, though. “We developed Amazon Scout at our research and development lab in Seattle, ensuring the devices can safely and efficiently navigate around pets, pedestrians and anything else in their path,” the company explained in its announcement. 

There are only six of these devices in service so far, and for now, Amazon says they’re limited to daytime delivery. As part of the trial, the bots are being “accompanied by an Amazon employee” for observation and potential troubleshooting, although the deliveries themselves are fully autonomous. 

If the field test succeeds, expect to see more of these guys in the future. Just be sure that you forge a trusting bond with the one nearest you before entrusting it with those battle station plans you stole.