Amazon creates new centre in Helsinki to develop its robot delivery service

2 Jul 2021

Amazon Scout delivery robot. Image: Amazon

The Seattle-based e-commerce giant is expanding its R&D presence in Europe to work on its delivery robot, Amazon Scout.

Amazon has announced the launch of a new centre in Helsinki, Finland, to support research and development for its autonomous delivery service that currently operates in four US locations.

In an announcement yesterday (1 July), Amazon said it is recruiting a team of over two dozen engineers to work at the Amazon Scout Development Centre. They will research and develop 3D software that can “simulate the complexity of real life” and help Scout “safely navigate around obstacles while making deliveries”.

The fully electric delivery system is designed to safely get packages to customers using autonomous delivery devices, navigating around “pets, pedestrians and anything else in their path”.

“Amazon Scout devices are inherently safe, the size of a small cooler, and roll along sidewalks at a walking pace,” the company said in a blog post.

The team in Helsinki is to work closely with the Amazon Scout research and development labs in Seattle, where the company is headquartered, as well as with teams in Cambridge, UK and Tübingen, Germany.

The launch of the new development centre comes six months after Amazon reportedly acquired Finnish 3D technology firm Umbra. Founded in 2006, Umbra reportedly raised $3.4m from investors before the acquisition.

In 2017, Amazon also acquired US-based urban delivery robot start-up Dispatch, bringing in both IP and talent.

Amazon has been growing its presence in Europe by investing heavily in the region and hiring local talent. The company’s European headquarters are in Dublin, Ireland, where it employed more than 2,200 people as of 2019.

“Across Europe, Amazon is creating thousands of quality jobs and investing billions in local economies. We created 20,000 jobs in 2020, growing our employee population to more than 135,000 across 15 European countries,” Amazon said in its blog post.

Delivery robots are also being developed by Estonian company Starship Technologies, which was set up in 2014 by Skype creators Janus Friis and Ahti Heinla.

Headquartered in San Francisco, Starship said in April that its robots had completed 1.5m deliveries in countries including the UK, the US, Estonia and Germany.

Amazon is now looking for engineers working in robotics and autonomous systems technology to join the Amazon Scout team in Helsinki, which is set to “grow over time”. The openings have been advertised on the company’s jobs site.

Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic