Amazon is scaling back its work on Scout, the package delivery robot that looks like a cooler on wheels.
“During our limited field test for Scout, we worked to create a unique delivery experience, but learned through feedback that there were aspects of the program that weren’t meeting customers’ needs,” an Amazon spokesperson said. “As a result, we are ending our field tests and reorienting the program. We are working with employees during this transition, matching them to open roles that best fit their experience and skills.”
Bloomberg first reported the news Thursday, noting that there were about 400 people working on the Scout team.
Amazon started rolling out Scout in 2019, with tests in the Seattle area and later expanded to Southern California, Atlanta, and Franklin, Tenn.
The robots autonomously followed their delivery route and were accompanied by an “Amazon Scout Ambassador” during testing.
“We are happy to welcome Amazon Scout to our growing suite of innovative delivery solutions for customers and look forward to taking the learnings from this first neighborhood so Amazon Scout can, over time, provide even more sustainability and convenience to customer deliveries,” Amazon wrote in a blog post introducing Scout in 2019.
Sean Scott, a longtime Amazon leader who was most recently vice president of Scout, left in January 2021.
There are a number of startups developing sidewalk robots for the “last mile” of delivery, including Starship Technologies, Nuro, Serve Robotics, Coco, Tortoise, and many more.
Amazon recently ended work on Glow, its video-calling device made for kids, and axed Amazon Care, its primary care service.
Amazon said earlier this year it was determined to get costs under control and return its consumer business to profitability, after doubling its fulfillment capacity and hiring hundreds of thousands of workers to meet demand during the pandemic.
The company is freezing hiring for corporate roles in its retail business, according to a report from The New York Times on Tuesday, joining others including Meta and Google that are slashing budgets amid the broader economic downturn.