Autonomous vehicles could be used by Amazon to lower shipping costs and speed up deliveries
Retail giant Amazon has put together a 12-person team focused on exploring how driverless car technology could be incorporated into its supply chain, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Rather than going through the trouble of building its own vehicles, Amazon is looking at ways to make use of third-party self-driving tech in its warehouses and for deliveries in an effort to get packages into the hands of customers faster.
According to sources familiar with the matter, the company could start using autonomous trucks, forklifts and drones to move goods around and lower shipping costs, as well as driverless cars for package drop-offs.
The use of such technology would of course mean that much of Amazon’s logistic and delivery processes could be automated, significantly reducing the reliance on humans as already seen with its drone delivery service.
Indeed, the company has plans to create “airborne fulfilment centres” or ‘flying warehouses’ to act as mothership for drones, which will hover over cities and be resupplied with fresh inventory from the ground by smaller airships.
The company currently spends billions of dollars a year on shipping costs and the use of autonomous vehicles would be an effective way of reducing this financial burden.
If it does go ahead with the plans, Amazon will have no shortage of vendors to choose from as pretty much every technology and automotive firm you could think of is actively looking into the development of autonomous vehicles.
Google’s parent company Alphabet is currently leading the pack and recently launched a driverless car company called Waymo to accelerate its efforts, but will face stiff competition from Apple, which finally confirmed its driverless ambitions at the end of last year.
In terms of traditional car makers, Ford plans to invest $1 billion (£798m) in artificial intelligence to help advance its autonomous driving development, while Porsche has refused to jump on the driverless bandwagon.
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