Amazon, the e-commerce behemoth made headlines earlier this month when it unveiled its automated electric delivery robot named Scout. Running on six wheels and powered by an electric engine, Amazon’s new delivery mechanism was launched with an aim to optimize last mile delivery and improve customer experience. The Seattle based tech giant had earlier revealed that its robot was developed in-house. However, according to the latest reports, Amazon had acquired a robotics startup called Dispatch specializing in automated delivery in order to bolster its automated delivery program.
Founded by three enterprising engineers working in New York, Dispatch was launched in 2015 in California and managed to build an electric powered semi-autonomous robot that could carry an amazing 100 pounds. After successful tests on college campuses, the founders of Dispatch managed to secure $2 million in seed funding from leading venture capitalists Andreessen Horowitz and Precursor Ventures. The money was used to hire additional talent and even make improvements on the design, enough to file for a patent. All of this followed by a period of silence until Amazon’s delivery robot was showcased earlier this year. Amazon never made its acquisition of Dispatch public, especially in light of its other purchases.
Although Dispatch’s robot is only slightly different from that of Amazon’s, both of them need to solve the same problems of navigation, obstacle avoidance, and timely delivery, not to mention all other aspects of operating autonomously in an urban environment.