If you’re not preparing now to serve our future robot overlords, then you’d better start.
Amazon, since at least Jan. 2019, has been hard at work developing what it calls a “fully-electric delivery system – Amazon Scout – designed to safely get packages to customers using autonomous delivery devices.”
Amazon has already developed Amazon AI. You know her as Alexa, and her counterpart is the Echo. Alexa, Amazon notes, is “Amazon’s cloud-based voice service,” and it is available “on more than 100 million devices from Amazon and third-party device manufacturers.” From playing music to making phone calls to family members, and from setting timers to sharing the weather forecast – even learning French – Amazon Alexa could be in the infancy stages of what could otherwise be considered the core of Skynet.
You probably have seen the movies or read the comic books, or if you have not seen them, you have at least heard about them – The Terminator franchise.
I know, I know … this is not how it was supposed to happen. Mankind’s arch nemesis, Skynet, was supposed to be created surreptitiously in some military base out in Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado, but Bezos had other plans.
Reports came out back in April that Amazon’s Alexa may have been listening to you, Newsbusters reporting that “contract workers for Amazon in the U.S., Costa Ricas and Romania have been listening up to 1,000 audio clips, some of them lasting up to nine hours. In response to these reports, Amazon confirmed to CNN Business that they do in fact hire employees to listen to what customers say to Alexa.” And more recently, Amazon announced “new ways” Alexa can detect and listen for things in your home.
Amazon attempted to pacify us all by including five new features on Alexa that “give you even more transparency and control,” but now with robot drone Amazon Scout minions wheeling about delivering packages, how could we possibly feel safer?
So how exactly does Amazon Scout work? Starting out in Snohomish County, Washington back in January, customers could simply order as they normally would, and then a Scout Device (robot drone) or Amazon’s partner carriers will deliver their Amazon packages, thankfully, “during daylight hours,” Amazon told us in January – because God knows you do not want to bump into one of these babies at night time. Just ask John or Sarah Connor.
And where does Amazon Scout stand now? The “cooler-size[d]” devices have “delivered thousands of smiles to customers just outside of Amazon’s headquarters in Washington state,” Amazon told us back in August. And “[a]ll the while, the devices have safely and autonomously navigated the many obstacles you find in residential neighborhoods ... Scout has even made a handful of furry neighborhood friends, like Winter the cat and the excitable Irish terrier Mickey.” Great, they’ve already started in on the pets!
Amazon Scout’s deployment is helped along by “dedicated hardware and software labs in Seattle” that “give engineers, scientists, and our operations staff the opportunity to quickly build and test the delivery devices,” and Amazon brags, “[w]e don’t need to wait on external parts or software updates; we can rapidly prototype hardware components and write new code, and are able to validate our efforts in real-time.”
“[S]till in field test mode,” the robot drones have expanded to Southern California, to the Irvine area, and Amazon said, “[this] is just another in the many steps forward for this new delivery system.”