Amazon builds new team focused on driverless delivery in UK

Consumers in Britain may soon see online orders reaching their doorstep on a small self-driven vehicle as Amazon on Tuesday said it is creating a new team focused on driverless delivery.

The new team at the e-commerce giant’s Cambridge development centre will work on Amazon Scout, the company’s fully-electric autonomous delivery service.

Amazon Scout devices are the size of a small cooler and roll along pavements at a walking pace.

The service is in field test mode, currently delivering packages to customers in four states in the US, but will continue to expand to more customers, Amazon said.

The investment in a team focused on driverless delivery comes even as Amazon is ramping up hiring in Britain to meet growing customer demands for its online services.

“Our investment in this new Amazon Scout team in the UK, which will consist of dozens of engineers, is driven by our partnership with the Cambridge community and made possible by the talented people who live here,” Sean Scott, Vice President of Amazon Scout, wrote in a blog post.

“The team in Cambridge will work closely with the Amazon Scout research lab in Seattle, US to develop on-system software to help Scout delivery devices safely and autonomously navigate around pedestrians, pets, and obstacles found in residential neighbourhoods such as recycling bins and sign posts,” Scott said.

The company is now hiring software development engineers who are at the forefront of robotics and autonomous systems technology.

The creation of the Amazon Scout team in Cambridge follows on from last week’s announcement that Amazon is creating 10,000 new permanent roles across the UK this year, taking the company’s total permanent UK workforce to more than 40,000.

Amazon said that it has already added 3,000 new permanent roles to its workforce across our UK network of fulfilment centres, sort centres and delivery stations — including at a new hi-tech fulfilment centre in the North East of England which opened in May 2020.

The company plans to add a further 7,000 new permanent roles by the end of this year across more than 50 sites, including Corporate offices and two new fulfilment centres launching in the autumn in the North East and in the Midlands.