So says Dave Sullivan of AutoPacific Inc. Amazon held a “Radical Transportation Salon” this week to study the future of transportation. Amazon doesn’t manufacture cars, but transportation is critical to its business. Most of what it sells must be moved via truck, plane, boat, drone, or some combination thereof. There are drawbacks to all of these forms of transport, and oftentimes those drawbacks are the humans piloting them. Truck drivers must rest, making a cross country trip last over four days. But a self-driving truck loaded with Amazon cargo could potentially cross the country in a day and a half, drastically reducing shipping times for customers.
According to Laura Stevens and Tim Higgins, Amazon has been working on the future of driverless tech for some time.
There have been early signs of Amazon’s interest in autonomous-vehicle technology. In January, Amazon won a patent for coordinating autonomous vehicles in a roadway, earlier reported by technology news website Recode. A job posting on Amazon’s site calls for a research scientist “to develop future mobility and transportation systems” at Amazon Robotics, which largely focuses on the company’s warehousing technology.
Over the past few years, Amazon has been building out its supply chain and logistics network, aiming to deliver more of its own packages. It also envisions transporting goods on a large scale for other companies, one day competing with delivery giants United Parcel Service Inc. and FedEx Corp. , according to people familiar with the matter.
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In addition to trucks that drive themselves, Amazon has an even more radical idea, bring the fulfillment center to your neighborhood, via air.