Google Obtains Patent for Self-Driving Delivery Van

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It drives to an address and sends a mobile message to the recipient, who uses a PIN to extract his package from the vehicle.

Could it be that the first self-driving vehicles on American roads will be Google package delivery vans? The company this week was awarded a U.S. patent for an “autonomous delivery platform” with securable compartments that people will be able to access with PIN codes.

Here's how it would work: Shippers ranging from Internet retailers to local pizza shops secure a compartment and receive a personal identification number to gain access to it. The shipper sends a text message to the addressee along with an estimated arrival time of the van at a specified location. Another message containing the PIN is sent when the van arrives at the destination. The recipient goes to the van, enters the code into a keypad on the assigned compartment, and removes the package.

The patent describes an autonomous motor vehicle as one that may use artificial intelligence, sensors, and location and positioning technology to drive itself without human interaction. It can receive destination information and drive to one or more locations. In the case of the “autonomous box truck” that would be used for deliveries, it can receive exchange information for up to three pick-up and delivery destinations, along with a return route to a depot.

The access information system can be programmed with a payment amount and a system to receive payment from the package recipient before granting access to a compartment.

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