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Commercial Vehicle

Google’s Autonomous Delivery System: Courier Industry is Evolving

Friday, 01 April 2016 GMT
Author: Staveley Head

Tech giant Google have been working on autonomous vehicles for some time now. As their self-driving cars are tested in three US cities, Google have moved onto their next big venture.

The latest patent predicts a move into the courier industry with a system that handles the delivery of goods called ‘Autonomous Delivery Platform’.

Google Autonomous Car

Image Source: Roman Boed on Flickr

The ‘Autonomous Delivery Platform’ is set to make the journey from factory to consumer much more efficient.

The latest Google patent states that two of the largest US commercial courier firms have invested in 100,000 self-driving trucks. The only issue is they currently require a driver!

Combining Google’s self-driving vehicles and delivery system could prove a real threat to the courier industry.

As providers of courier insurance it’s important for us to understand what this means for couriers.

The Patent: Autonomous Delivery Platform

In February 2016, Google’s patent for the ‘Autonomous Delivery Platform’ was accepted in the US.

Here’s an overview of the patent.

The delivery system consists of multiple packing compartments each with their own pin number. Google plan to text the pin number to the consumer giving them access to their goods.

Google Autonomous Delivery Patent

Source: Google's Autonomous Delivery Platform PatentAutonomous Delivery Platform Patent

For extra security the pin will only be activated once the vehicle reaches a specific location. Alternatively an NFC chip will be installed on mobile devices sending an alert to the vehicle when the destination has been reached.

However, this is only Google’s latest concept. Let’s not forget Project Wing due to launch in 2017.

Will human drivers be required at all?

When the news was announced that self-driving commercial vehicles will come to UK roads there were mixed reactions. Many drivers felt the invention was a good one as long as they still had a purpose:

It means I get to sit and read a book and then unload the machines the other end

Others were not so optimistic:

Personally I hate the idea of autonomous vehicles. I enjoy driving and I own a courier firm. This tech won't be mainstream, if ever, for quite some time. Based on my back ground in IT development I wouldn't trust a software over a human to control a vehicle, to many variables.

Google’s new delivery system would be totally autonomous, requiring the customer to have no human interaction at all. This means that a human is no longer required!

However, the idea is still just a concept so is years away from reality.

For now couriers and HGV drivers jobs are safe - but who knows what the future will bring?

What do you think about the delivery system, will it work? 

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