As reported by Mike Murphy in Quartz a few hours ago, Google has just been awarded with a patent for an autonomous delivery platform, which confirms tech giant's strong aspirations for its self-driving (or driverless) technology. And although Google said it never wanted to a be a car maker, it has a great opportunity to leave a solid footprint in retail with its truck of secured lockers to be used for driverless delivery of purchased products to consumers.
The idea behind Google's innovative self-driving vehicle technology is pretty simple: Google will drive a delivery to a customer who would come up to the truck and unlock their dedicated locker with either a special PIN code and a credit card or NFC reader built in a smartphone. After the item retrieval, the truck will drive off to the next destination or return to the depot to pick more packages.
The patent comes in timely especially given the fact that the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has recently confirmed that Google's self-driving vehicles qualify as "drivers" under Federal Law.
While the patent doesn't go deeply into detail about how the truck will drive itself, it mentions technologies that Google is currently using in its driverless car tests. Google's automated road vehicles use different sensors (e.g. video cameras, radar, laser range finders) and actuators to see traffic, advanced maps to navigate a road, and wireless communication subsystems to communicate with a controller and other entities.