The hype surrounding the possibility of driverless cars reached a new high last year, and appears that trend is continuing into the new year.
Reports indicate that Amazon recently filed a patent application for a technology that would allow the company to manage a very specific aspect of driverless cars, which could also contribute to automating the delivery aspect of its e-commerce empire. According to the documents, Amazon could be pursuing a method to enable driverless cars to navigate reversible lanes.
Reversible lanes indicate a change in the direction of traffic, which can understandably pose a hazard for self-driving cars that are unable to understand these signals. The patent states that Amazon is exploring a method to communicate with driverless cars when to adjust to changes in traffic flow.
It’s become clear over the past year that driverless trucks could reach the market sooner than personal vehicles because of the cost-saving potential for the companies deploying them. As one of the largest e-commerce networks in the world, it only makes sense that Amazon would take a specific interest in automating its delivery service.
The company has already begun experimenting with drone delivery as a means for completing the same goal, though with the advent of driverless cars, Amazon may be looking towards an even more all-encompassing solution.
MobileSyrup previously reported that Amazon’s most recent earnings report revealed that a 43 percent increase in its shipping costs year over year, which could suggest similar increases for other companies that rely heavily on delivery services.
Interestingly, however, the majority of announcements made about driverless cars have to do primarily with the consumer deployment of autonomous driving technology rather than corporate deployment. BlackBerry is an example of another tech company that’s divested some of its resources towards connecting the shipping and delivery markets, though the company seems to have split their interests between consumer and B2B.
Furthermore, this past December Amazon bought thousands of truck trailers to deliver goods from one Amazon warehouse to another, Recode reports. Amazon is currently working on its driverless ambitions out of its drone arm. It seems however that Amazon intends to own and operate the system on its own without licensing software from automakers.
[source]United States Patent and Trademark Office[/source]