A new patent that surfaced on Tuesday (via Qz) suggests that Google/Alphabet could have plans to use its self-driving car technologies for a truck-based delivery service. The patent describes an “autonomous delivery platform” for an autonomous truck with lockers (not unlike an Amazon locker), driving to a customer’s location to deliver a package…
The patent goes on to describe a “package securing system” with “securable compartments” that the vehicle uses to make sure that deliveries get to the correct customer. As shown in the below diagram, this system could be secured by a pin code, or as suggested by the patent, a person’s credit card or NFC reader.
Package delivery platform. An autonomous road vehicle is operative to receive destination information, and to drive to a destination based on the destination information. A package securing subsystem is attached to the autonomous road vehicle and comprises at least one securable compartment. Each securable compartment is associated with compartment access information. An access subsystem comprising of at least one access information interface. The access subsystem is operative, upon receipt through the access information interface of compartment access information, to permit access to the compartment associated with the received compartment access information.
The patent doesn’t directly describe the autonomous part of the vehicle (which, to us, is probably the most interesting part of this patent), but it does briefly mention technologies such as “various sensors” including video cameras and radar sensors, to control the automated vehicle.
Automated road vehicles can use various sensors, for example, video cameras, radar sensors and laser range finders, to “see” other traffic, as well as detailed maps to navigate a road, and a communication subsystem, such as a wireless communication subsystem, to communicate with a controller and other entities.
As is the case with every other patent in the world, this is just a patent. Google, Apple, and most other companies in Silicon Valley patent things every day, and very often these patents don’t go on to become actual products. We do know that Google/Alphabet is working on self-driving cars, and that the company has a delivery service in the works. Merging the two would just make sense.