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    Amazon Patents Key Self-Driving Car Technology

    © AFP 2019 / EMMANUEL DUNAND
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    Amazon has secured a patent on a key technology for self-driving cars to manage highways. The technology allows for autonomous vehicles to navigate reversible lanes, lanes where traffic can flow in either direction based on traffic signals that, currently, most self-driving cars cannot read.

    Amazon has found a way around the problem as their technology allows autonomous cars to interface with other self-driving vehicles to learn and adapt to the flow of traffic. 

    "The roadway management system can identify a period of time and a particular lane of the roadway that is best suited to assign to the autonomous vehicle while taking into account an outcome directive," an Amazon tech expert told Geekwire.

    The patent was filed November 2015 and deals primarily with autonomous vehicles sharing information, such as lane direction and guidance. Amazon's patent reads that it extends to "any type of vehicle," including aircraft and boats.

    Amazon has been working to exert more control over the post-sale process of items on their website. They created Amazon Logistics in 2012 to handle order delivery in the United Kingdom. In December 2016, they purchased thousands of truck trailers to control the movement of goods between their warehouses. When autonomous cars become viable, Amazon, like every other freight carrier, would save money by automating their fleet of delivery vehicles.

    While Amazon has been quiet in their development of autonomous driving technology, in comparison to companies like Uber and Tesla Motors, the new patent reveals a vested interest in autonomous technologies by the e-commerce titan. Unconfirmed rumors state that they have been quietly developing self-driving vehicles out of their drone division, Prime Air.

    Amazon has been working on a network of autonomous systems meant to allow them to coordinate every aspect of the services. These moves are stated to provide for a decrease in traffic and an increase in safety. Many automakers are looking into similar technologies for their own self-driving vehicles, but Amazon's network would be more universal, and accessible by any vehicle, regardless of carmaker.

    An estimated 4 million Americans are employed as either truck or cab drivers, including services such as Uber and Lyft. When transport becomes fully automated, widespread unemployment is predicted to occur.

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    Tags:
    patent, advanced technology, autonomous car, Self Driving Car, Amazon
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