Shopping parcels could soon be delivered by self-driving delivery boxes in the UK, with Amazon ramping up development in the country.
The Amazon Scout has been developed to avoid obstacles in the street such as pedestrians and bins.
The ecommerce giant is hiring a team of engineers to develop its Amazon Scout vehicles for use in the UK following the growth in online shopping.
The Scout rolls along the pavement at walking pace before delivering to a customer’s door.
The vehicle has been developed with a camera and sensor to help it navigate around pedestrians, pets and obstacles such as bins and sign posts.
The technology is already being tested out in small areas in the States, including the area just outside Amazon’s headquarters in Washington state.
Engineers in the UK will be working with the Amazon Scout research lab in Seattle to develop the software.
“Our investment in this new Amazon Scout team in the UK, which will consist of dozens of engineers, is driven by our partnership with the Cambridge community and made possible by the talented people who live here,” the company said.
Last week, Amazon said it would create 7,000 jobs by the end of the year, taking its permanent UK workforce to more than 40,000 people.
Ramping up competition with supermarkets
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.”