Amazon halts Scout delivery robot field testing, will reassign employees to other projects

Amazon is winding down one of its more ambitious projects in an effort to cut costs. The e-commerce giant started field testing Scout, an autonomic robotic vehicle designed to make deliveries in neighborhoods, nearly four years ago. Testing commenced in Amazon’s home state of Washington before expanding to other regions including Tennessee, Georgia and Southern California.

At its peak, Amazon had around 400 employees working on the project globally. According to one source, Amazon has decided to halt further testing.

A skeleton crew will be retained in hopes of finding a new use for the bots, but otherwise it sounds like the project is dead.

Amazon spokesperson Alisa Carroll said they worked to create a unique delivery experience but learned through feedback that certain aspects of Scout weren’t meeting customers’ needs. As such, Amazon is ending field tests and reorienting the program. Employees that worked on the Scout team will be moved to other positions that best fit their skills and experience.

This isn’t Amazon’s first cost-cutting measure under CEO Andy Jassy. Last month, sources said Amazon was encouraging some employees to work remotely to help scale back costs associated with on-site employment. If successful, the initiative could allow Amazon to close some call centers across the country to save money.

A separate report claims Amazon has paused hiring for corporate positions through the end of the year.

Earlier this week, another Amazon spokesperson confirmed the company was discontinuing Glow. Launched roughly a year ago, the interactive entertainment and video-calling hub for kids wasn’t a big seller.

Prime Day 2022 was Amazon’s biggest shopping day ever, and the company is looking for a repeat performance.

Amazon will host a second Prime Day-style sales event next week. The Prime Early Access Sale, exclusively for Prime members, will serve as a precursor to the holiday shopping season and run in 15 countries including the US. The two-day event starts on October 11 and will feature the company’s first-ever Top 100 list, highlighting the most desirable and giftable products of the season.