Jul 16, 2021

Amazon Patented a New Delivery System That Could Have Your Block Crawling With Robots

Posted by in categories: business, robotics/AI, transportation

Last week, Amazon patented a delivery system involving self driving trucks carrying several small robots that deliver packages to homes.

Once all the small delivery bots are back on board, the truck (which would have a human driver in the near future but likely be autonomous in the less-near future) drives off to the next block—its fleet of mini-me’s restocking with new packages en route—and the scene repeats itself.

Cool/creepy? Good/bad? Depends on your perspective. On the one hand, employing fewer humans would bring Amazon more cost savings in the long run, which it would ideally pass on to customers and re-invest in other parts of the business, leading to hiring more people in a virtuous circle.

But on the other hand, it’s not hard to imagine the secondary vehicles going awry; there would be plenty of obstacles for them to get around (dogs, bikes, sprinklers, and children are just a few that come to mind), and given how hard it’s been to bring self-driving cars to market, Amazon may be underestimating the challenge of maneuvering the small delivery vehicles even 100 feet from truck to doorstep.

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