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The march of the robots reaches your front door

Robotics, autonomous vehicles and artificial intelligence will all have a crucial role to play in the postal and delivery services of the future, and the nature of postal services is set to change radically

The sorting of letters is fully automated yet the delivery of parcels is still problematic and while Amazon's promised drone delivery service has yet to appear, the company has unveiled Amazon Scout - a six wheeled delivery robot that moves along a pavement at walking pace.

The device, developed at the company's research and development laboratory in Seattle, is being tested to safely navigate hazards, such as pedestrians and pets, and has to be escorted by Amazon employees as it traverses the streets around the company's HQ.

Early days and Amazon is not the first to develop this technology - in fact there trials already underway in Milton Keynes in the UK - and there is a growing list of companies looking to use autonomous vehicles to deliver small parcels - the last mile is the trickiest part of the process.

These projects are not without critics who argue that they involve the privatisation of public space and threaten the livelihoods of thousands of delivery workers.

That, however, will be an argument that will be played out time and again as technology continues to encroach into more sectors of the economy.

Neil Tyler

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