While driverless technology became part of the rhetoric of 2016, one tech giant was largely absent from the headlines.
Rather than dealing in autonomous vehicles, Amazon seems to have turned its attention to drone delivery. However, several reports indicate that Amazon is likely to enter the autonomous vehicle field this year, according to the Information, and already has all the tools to do it. However, it’s vision likely won’t mimic that of Google or Uber.
When it does enter the driverless race however, Amazon will likely do so through the mass e-commerce and delivery service it’s already built. The Information reports that Amazon will likely use driverless technology to automate the delivery of goods to its international roster of customers.
How does it plan to do this? Through autonomous delivery trucks.
Amazon is already experimenting with drone delivery in the hopes of cutting costs by avoiding roads, but the implementation of driverless trucks could bring new levels of syndication to Amazon’s already burgeoning e-commerce service.
A story published in Wired Magazine this past December also explores this concept. The piece describes the possibility that Amazon could be developing a mobile app for scouting available trucks and matching them with available shipments.
In doing so, Amazon can “cut out the middlemen,” like UPS and FedEx, which often take a 15 percent cut to match drivers with shipments. Furthermore, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos recently invested in a company that provides on-demand truck service to shippers.
This initiative is also the reason Amazon will likely push forward with autonomous trucks. With an already massive supply chain at its fingertips and a clear eye towards robotics, self-driving delivery trucks almost seem inevitable.
Rising shipping costs could also be a factor behind this initiative. Wired also reports that Amazon’s last earnings report revealed a 43 percent increase in shipping costs year over year.
Interestingly enough, the tech world is currently in the midst of the Consumer Electronics Showcase (CES) 2017, where Ford is debuting its second-generation autonomous Ford Fusion Hybrid. It was during CES 2016 that Ford announced a partnership with Amazon in the pursuit of driverless cars.
Since then, there hasn’t been much word on the subject.
However, many have predicted that autonomous trucks will find their place in society before commercial vehicles because of their lack of interruption with the everyday lives of consumers.
The Canadian smartphone company BlackBerry recently made its own foray into the world of connected trucking through the launch of its Radar IoT technology with the Caravan Transport Group trucking fleets.
In addition, Uber recently acquired in the self-driving truck startup Otto, which made its first delivery of 50 thousand cans of Budweiser this past October.
At this rate, it won’t be long until your Amazon order is driven up to your driveway by a truck with no driver, and dropped on your doorstep by a drone, to finish the job.