Amazon builds team to develop autonomous delivery technology, Amazon Scout, in the UK

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Amazon has announced a new investment to expand research and development of autonomous delivery technology in the UK with the creation of a new team at its Cambridge development centre. The team will be focused on Amazon Scout, Amazon’s fully-electric autonomous delivery service.

Amazon Scout devices: in field test mode

Amazon Scout devices are the size of a small cooler and roll along pavements at a walking pace. The service is in field test mode, currently delivering packages to customers in four states in the U.S, but will continue to expand to more customers.

According to Sean Scott, vice president of Amazon Scout, the investment in this new Amazon Scout team in the UK, which will consist of dozens of engineers, is driven by Amazon’s partnership with the Cambridge community and made possible by the talented people who live here.

“The team we’re building in Cambridge will work closely with the Amazon Scout research lab in Seattle, U.S. to develop on-system software to help Scout delivery devices safely and autonomously navigate around pedestrians, pets, and obstacles found in residential neighbourhoods such as recycling bins and sign posts,” he said.

“We’re now hiring software development engineers who are at the forefront of robotics and autonomous systems technology.”

Open roles for Amazon Scout in Cambridge are now live on Amazon’s jobs site.

Hugh Fletcher, global head of consultancy and innovation, Wunderman Thompson Commerce, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has completely disrupted the retail sector and, despite the slow reopening of the high street, online marketplaces are emerging as the overall winners. In fact, 62% of shopping took place online during the lockdown, with consumers estimating that in a post-COVID world, their online spend will be 51%. And Amazon was at the forefront of that success.

“Known for convenience, immediacy and reliability, its latest foray into autonomous technology deliveries in the UK is an exciting advent for a sector that has a pivotal role to play in bolstering the UK economy. Moreover, it’s another example of what the ‘new normal’ could look like in retail as businesses discover new ways to safely purchase goods, and another example of its bench-mark setting service – in fact, our research found that 75% of consumers wished that all retailers and brands offered the same level of service as Amazon.

“When it comes to speedy delivery, Amazon, and more significantly Amazon Prime, is often perceived as the best and 57% of shoppers agree. And, as online orders placed on Amazon become more commonplace, with the majority (55%) of UK consumers being Prime subscribers, there is a renewed pressure to compete with a service as wide-reaching as Amazon’s. Scout could even be another way to connect the giant’s vast marketplace with its ever-expanding Fresh service and tackle the grocery sector. The task for retailers, then, will be finding a balance between working alongside Amazon to take advantage of its services and audience, while continuing to grow their own market share.”