Amazon is seeking a patent for an autonomous ground vehicle or AGV, which can take packages from a delivery truck and bring them to a customer’s doorstep. In a patent application that was published last week, the online retail giant presented details of a self-driving that can move from a customer’s home to pick up packages from a special delivery truck.
This looks similar to one that was done last year, where Amazon, the Seattle-based retailing giant was granted a patent to operate an airship that will be used to track drones as they deliver items to customers. This patent is in addition to the other one published in late 2016 to have a floating warehouse or an “airborne fulfillment center,” which would store merchandise for multiple drones to deliver.
The application for the patent for this robotic vehicle was filed in 2016. The vehicle is envisioned to be intelligent enough to be shared by neighbors. According to the inventors, Ethan Zane Evans, Amazon’s vice president for Twitch Prime and Tye Michael Brady, chief technologist at Amazon Robotics, the AGV can be shared among by a set of users in a given neighborhood or apartment building.
In the detailed model, the AGVs would be stored in a holding area and would be called to action from Central Dispatch or they would automatically sense the advance of the delivery truck and navigate towards it. After picking up the packages, they would then proceed to deliver them to designated addresses. The vehicle could also deliver the items to a locker or using Amazon Key, they would have access codes that enable them to enter the customer’s home or garage, drop the package and leave.
If there is difficulty accessing the customer’s home, the robot will be fitted with a keypad locking system that will help the customer access the hatch by inputting the correct code.
The application is 17 pages long and is well documented with various uses of the vehicle. The vehicles could be linked such that they would meet and exchange packages. With a refrigerated compartment, the robot could be used to deliver a wide array of products like ice-cream or meat products.
The whole concept is a pattern that Amazon has been pursuing having applied for patents relating to airships, self-driving trucks and delivery drones. This is geared towards covering the “last mile” and ensuring a seamless delivery network.