Is Google’s self-driving delivery truck the future of the last mile?
With all the talk of Amazon’s push for package delivery by drone, it has become easy to imagine a drone-dominated sky in the near future (if the FAA plays ball). But another big tech player is exploring a different solution to win the future of last-mile logistics. Quartz reported that Google has patented an unmanned, self-driving delivery truck.
The patent, according to the article, describes technology resembling that of the self-driving car that Google is currently testing. The delivery truck will be able to automatically navigate to the houses where deliveries are needed, stop to make deliveries and return to the distribution center to collect more packages when the deliveries are complete. To facilitate the secure delivery of the package, the patent further describes a system that will allow customers to enter a pin number into a keypad, opening a locker from which customers can collect their packages. It also suggests that an NFC reader or credit card could be used to unlock the correct package locker.
Google’s self-driving delivery truck might be one of the more ambitious solutions in an ambitious space, but they’re not the only ones trying to do on wheels what Amazon wants to do in the skies.
Last month, ZDNet reported that two of the founders of Skype were demoing another wheeled delivery option. The knee-high six-wheeled self-driving delivery vehicle looks more akin to a Roomba than an automobile. The creators intend it to be used for local deliveries, such as groceries. Users of the device can follow its path from the distribution center to the door on a mobile app.
In addition to the self-driving truck, Google is also working on a way to hybridize airborne drones and machines on wheels. According to a PSFK article, Google filed another patent for a “delivery receptacle.” In order to mitigate concerns over drones falling out of the sky with packages, the receptacle rolls on the ground, locating drones via beacon; then accepting drop-offs and moving the package to a secure location for pickup.
- Google wants to deliver packages from self-driving trucks – Quartz
- Move over drones: Here come Skype co-founders’ self-driving delivery robots – ZDNet
- Google Drones Might Deliver Packages Through Help of Receptacle Buddies – PSFK
Source: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office – Patent No.: US 9,256,852 B1
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you think self-driving delivery vehicles are a better alternative to Amazon’s planned drone delivery program? What automated delivery model, if any, do you see as being most viable for retailers and customers?