Amazon's delivery robot "Scout" resembles a water cooler on wheels

By Kate Gibson

/ MoneyWatch

CES 2019 preview: Laundry-folding robot

An electric-powered, self-driving robot on wheels called Amazon Scout is now delivering packages in a neighborhood in Snohomish County, Washington.

Six Scouts, in fact, are operating, rolling along sidewalks at a walking pace and in daylight hours, Sean Scott, vice president of Amazon Scout, wrote Wednesday in a blog post.

Amazon Scout by amazon on YouTube

Developed at Amazon's research and development lab in Seattle, Scout was designed to avoid pets, pedestrians and anything else in its path. The devices, which are roughly the size of a small cooler, will autonomously follow their delivery route, though initially they'll be accompanied by an Amazon employee.

Whether or not Amazon's latest delivery system goes mainstream remains to be seen. Consumers are still waiting for drones to deliver Amazon packages, as CEO Jeff Bezos in 2013 predicted would occur within five years.

The retailer's technology-driven forays have also included stores without cashiers in Seattle and Chicago, and robots helping out in its warehouses and fulfillment centers.

A robot fleet with a similar look also started circulating this week around George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, with more than 25 knee-high, cooler-shaped devices delivering pizza, doughnuts and coffee on demand to students. Starship Technologies said the service, opened in partnership with food services management company Sodexo, drew hundreds of orders on Tuesday, its first day of operation.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.

First published on January 23, 2019

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc.. All Rights Reserved.

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