Why it matters: The future of product delivery might eliminate humans from the equation, but we're still quite a ways off from that level of automation and AI sophistication. However, the tech industry is still taking frequent steps toward that goal. For now, that comes in the form of a new announcement from Amazon -- the tech giant's "Scout" robots have begun delivering packages to Southern California residents.
For those who don't know, Scout is a small, six-wheeled vehicle with a Prime logo emblazoned on its side, and an array of sensors that help it navigate streets, sidewalks, driveways, and other random day-to-day obstacles safely. The little robot is completely autonomous, with no human driver or operator.
Prior to this latest announcement, Scout robots had been primarily used to ferry packages around Snohomish County, Washington; near Amazon HQ. This gave the company more control and oversight over the robot's behavior, but now, Amazon clearly feels their creation is ready to spread its wings and work further away from home.
If you live in the Irvine area, you may just find that your next Amazon order will be delivered by one of these mini machines. There's no special opt-in agreement that you have to sign; the integration is seamless and random, so there isn't a reliable way to guarantee you'll get a Scout-delivered order. However, if you order enough packages through Amazon on a weekly basis, your odds will certainly go up.
If you have your heart set on spotting one of these little guys, though, here's some additional information: the pool of initial Scout robots will be small, and they will only deliver packages during the daytime between Monday and Friday every week (likely to cut down on the risk of nighttime theft or vandalism).