It seems nearly every tech and auto giant are now evaluating autonomous vehicle technology. Google-owner (“GOOG”) Alphabet recently spun out its self-driving car unit, Waymo, into its own subsidiary. Apple (“APPL”) was just granted a license in California to test autonomous vehicles. Ford (“F”) and General Motors (“GM”) are also doubling down on creating autonomous vehicles.
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Amazon’s (“AMZN”) ambitions, however, may not be to actually build these cars. Instead, the e-commerce giant has a team of around a dozen employees thinking of ways to potentially use the nascent technology to expand its own retail and logistics operations.
Operating fleets of driverless trucks to ship items bought from its marketplace could help lower costs for the company. Amazon spends billions of dollars each quarter on shipping, and these costs continue to rise as the company aims to deliver everything from toiletries to TVs to customers around the world in two days or less.
Over the past two years, Amazon has been seeking to take over more shipping duties from the likes of UPS and FedEx by leasing trucks, planes, and ships. The company has also started testing drones to deliver items from warehouses to buyers’ doorsteps as part of its Prime Air initiative.
Earlier this year, Amazon was awarded a patent for the technology that would allow driverless cars to to navigate traffic and lanes on highways.