Driverless, and there is no stopping Amazon

By Gartner’s count, there are more than 40 companies actively working on autonomous software. Wall Street Journal sources revealed that Amazon formed a team of 12 people last year to explore the possibilities of using autonomous self-driving tech for the company’s online shopping business. Smarter delivery vehicles can thus be seen in near future.

Amazon was awarded a patent for a system that manages and guides autonomous cars how to navigate in reversible lanes. Self-driving cars that have not yet been programmed to understand the overhead signals (that indicate change in direction of traffic) can make reversible lanes a potential disaster zone. Amazon has devised a network that can communicate with self-driving vehicles so they can adjust to the change in traffic flow.

In recent times Amazon is taking increasing control of its delivery chain – buying its own jets, managing ocean freight, buying own truck trailers to deliver good between warehouses. The company is spending $1.49 billion on its own air cargo hub in northern Kentucky. Amazon currently has 16 Boeing 767 planes in use and plans to increase that number to 40 in the next few years. The company has also agreed to lease 20 cargo planes from Atlas Air Worldwide.

All this is being done to lower costs and ship goods faster. Autonomous vehicles are the logical next step to this line of thought.  Amazon also has plans to use drones to deliver goods, the service called Prime Air, by 2018. Research into autonomous tech can help Amazon “coordinate” drones with ground-based self-driving vehicles to help with deliveries.

The Wall Street Journal noted that Amazon had posted a job listing for research scientists in the Amazon Robotics division who will work on “future mobility and transportation systems”.

Alexa, the company’s virtual assistant, is set to be used by Ford, Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz. The technology will allow owners to perform various tasks using voice commands such as start their vehicles or complete an order.