According to The Wall Street Journal, Amazon created a special team more than a year ago to figure out how best to utilize autonomous vehicles for faster deliveries.

An in-house think tank for new methods of delivering packages

While Amazon does not intend to build a fleet of vehicles per se, the special team – which reportedly comprises of a dozen people – will focus on how to leverage autonomous vehicles to deliver packages to Amazon customers in faster manner.

Although Amazon declined to comment, it is said the online retail giant is looking at various options like autonomous trucks, forklifts, and drones. We don’t know how much progress the company has made so far, but Amazon has already secured a few autonomous driving-related and drone-related patents. In fact, the company successfully tested its own commercial drone delivery in the UK last year; however, a broader application of that technology is likely to remain limited in the US due to strict regulations.

Self-driving trucks could be the next big thing

Sources say that Amazon is interested in autonomous trucking: according to people familiar with Amazon’s plans, the company has been building out its supply chain and hopes to compete with the likes of UPS or FedEx in the future. It has already bought thousands of branded truck trailers, and once autonomous driving technology becomes more reliable, Amazon could see a huge benefit from that investment.

As of now, ground transportation of goods is limited due to the fact that human drivers require breaks and rest; as Alex Rodrigues of Embark, a start-up for driverless trucks, explains, self-driving trucks can go on without stopping, making the total time required to get from point A to point B significantly shorter.

Though the specifics of Amazon’s plans are unknown, it’s widely believed that autonomous driving technology will shake up retailers’ entire supply chain as we know it. Plus, with big names like Google, Tesla, GM, and Apple joining in, it’s not surprising to learn that Amazon has its own team to help it navigate through the imminent paradigm shift.

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