Amazon disbands delivery robot team

E-commerce giant Inc is ditching its home-delivery robot business, the latest sign that the company is starting to shrink experimental programs as sales growth slows. Amazon has stopped developing Scout, the autonomous robot that it launched about three years ago, according to people familiar with the matter. Amazon has about 400 people around the world working on the project.

Amazon spokeswoman Alisa Carroll said the Scout team would be disbanded and the company would give them new jobs. “During Scout’s limited field test, we worked hard to create a unique delivery experience, but we learned through feedback that there were aspects of the program that didn’t meet the client’s needs. So we ended the field test and re-directed the project. During this transition, we will work with our employees to provide them with openings that best suit their experience and skills," Carroll said.

Starting in 2019, Amazon tested the cooler-sized robot on sidewalks outside Seattle, before expanding the trial to Southern California, Georgia, and Tennessee. The slow-moving device, which is supervised during testing, stops in front of a customer's door and opens the lid so the customer can pick up the package. Amazon said the battery-powered robots are part of its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in its delivery operations.

Just a few months ago, Amazon was holding meetups with the community testing the devices. Sean Scott, Amazon’s vice president in charge of robot development, left last year, according to LinkedIn data.

Under CEO Andy Jassy, ​​Amazon is adjusting to slowing growth in its core retail business, delaying some investments and halting others. The company is known for backing aggressive experiments that could take years to come to fruition, including cashier-less stores, flying delivery drones, and a constellation of satellites promising internet access around the world. Amazon will also stop selling the Amazon Glow, a video-calling device for children, freeze hiring for corporate retail teams, and is winding down its telehealth service Amazon Care.

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