How Google's Self-Driving Delivery Truck Will Transform Retail

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.

self-driving technology

Google's self-driving delivery truck

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.

Today, there’s no guarantee that Google will actually roll out a fleet of self-driving delivery trucks any time soon; yet, this patent dovetails this project with another project by its parent company Alphabet that has been working on their drone delivery program for quite a while now. Called Project Wing, the program is set to be launched in 2017 and become the main competitor to Amazon that hopes "it can beat any Google-backed delivery effort to the punch". Amazon says they'll be ready to set up their drone delivery service right after the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration figures out how to incorporate commercial drones into the national airspace.

And who do you think is going to win the race for driverless tech - Google or Amazon?

Vik is our Brand Journalist and Head of Online Marketing / PR with 11+ years of international experience in IT B2B. He's also a guest blog contributor to business2community, SitePoint, Journal of mHealth, Wearable Valley and other e-zines.

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