Amazon quietly formed the team, which has comprised about a dozen employees, more than a year ago as part of its broader ambition to transport more of its goods itself. For now, Amazon doesn't intend to build a fleet of vehicles, according to these people. Instead, the team serves as an in-house think tank to figure out how to leverage autonomous vehicles.
The initiative, still in its early phases, could help the Seattle-based company overcome one of its biggest logistical complications and costs: delivering packages quickly. Amazon could use autonomous vehicles including trucks, forklifts and drones to move goods. In addition, driverless cars could play a broader role in the future of last-mile delivery, enabling easier package drop-offs, experts say.
Many details of the team’s work, such as the extent of its progress, couldn’t be determined. An Amazon spokeswoman declined to comment.
Amazon hosted an event last week titled “Radical Transportation Salon” to discuss the future of transportation with other companies, the people said. The event, spearheaded by H.B. Siegel, whose responsibilities at Amazon include new ideas, in part targeted experts in autonomous vehicles. It wasn’t clear which companies attended.
“Amazon has a plan in place to shake up the entire supply chain as we know it today,” said Dave Sullivan, an automotive analyst for consultancy AutoPacific Inc.
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