The people who deliver our packages to us may soon have some competition.
In January, the e-commerce giant Amazon announced that it had begun field-testing Amazon Scout, a robot that’s been delivering packages to customers in Snohomish County, Washington. The United States Postal Service is also exploring ways to use delivery robots.
According to a post on the Amazon AMZN blog Day One, there are just six Scout robots in existence , and they only deliver during daylight hours on weekdays. An Amazon spokesperson who spoke with CNBC could not comment on the program beyond what’s on the blog, so for now the future of the rollout remains murky.
Whatever plans Amazon has for Scout, it’s only natural to wonder what effect widespread adoption would have on the delivery jobs that are currently being performed by human beings. Do these workers need to brace themselves for the possibility that they may soon be obsolete?
According to a 2018 report issued by the United States Postal Service’s Office of the Inspector General, more Americans embrace the idea of robotic delivery than oppose it. Those who support it said robot delivery could offer greater flexibility to package recipients and reduce the risk of injury to delivery personnel. As far as the drawbacks, respondents cited job losses as a primary concern. However, postal delivery workers won’t have to worry about being put out of jobs just yet.