Amazon is not building its own autonomous vehicles; but it has right ideas to make them work in its favour

A recent report by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) shed light on how Amazon has a team dedicated to driverless technology. Delving deeper into the piece reveals that the e-commerce giant has no plans on building its own stable of self-driving trucks and cars, but instead focusses on the technology and how it would best serve its business.

The news comes at a time, when every automaker out there is struggling to build and lay on the road its own commercialised version of a self driving vehicle. These would be vehicles that need no inputs from human drivers during the ride and cars that are smart enough to avoid collisions and not harm pedestrians.

According to Amazon, the industry is looking at it all wrong. And in a way Amazon could be right.

For decades as is the case with manufacturing, monotonous jobs time and again have been replaced by robots. Car manufacturing is a good example, food processing is another. It goes to show that humans can be replaced at a level where tasks are monotonous, perhaps help humanity focus on the broader picture (focus its attention on space maybe) instead of working in factories.

And this is where the self driving car comes into the picture. There is not exactly a real world use for it when it comes to personal driving. Most "humans" still love to drive their cars. Others like to tune them, light them up; in short the culture still exists, the enthusiasts are still here. And we are almost there where it comes to collision avoidance technologies, thanks to efforts made by automakers in the same field for more than a decade. In short, personal driving, really does not need more autonomy.

But there's this other side to driving, it's the commercial bit. Services, like taxis, truckers who transport goods from state to state, locomotives, shipping, areas that need human drivers to work long laborious hours behind the wheel, just to get that minuscule pen drive delivered or shipped from one end of the country to the other. Yes, there are people that consist of Amazon's workforce, a sizeable chunk, which Amazon could benefit from by using driverless technology.

amazon-prime-air drone

According to the WSJ report, Amazon's focus is exactly on this. After building drones that would help with last mile deliveries, autonomous driving would indeed seem like the right use of autonomous technology in the commercial space.

The focus is not entirely on trucks or semis delivering goods across the country, but even inside its facilities where forklifts could help around the warehouse. Drones could load up trucks and warehouses without any human intervention and operations would run 24x7, 365 days a year, so that even your gifts during the holiday season arrive on time; when employees are on leave.

There's plenty of potential in the commercial space and right now Amazon is the only one who can see it.

Published Date: Apr 25, 2017 12:21 pm | Updated Date: Apr 25, 2017 12:21 pm