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January 18, 2017

Amazon moves into pole position with self-driving car network patent

Network patent highlights Amazon's increased interest in the market.

By Tom Ball

Amazon has filed a new patent designed to equip autonomous vehicles with the ability to locate and identify suitable driving lanes.

Approved on Tuesday, the filing of the network patent makes clear Amazon’s ambition to be at the centre of the self-driving car market, and the race to create it.

The technology behind this design will be able to monitor factors such as speed, traffic flow and time of day as it judges the suitability of the lane for the autonomous car. In addition to this, the technology is said to be able to identify ‘reversible lanes’, which would allow the vehicle to travel in either direction depending upon an overhead sign on the road.

Screen Shot 2017 01 17 at 11.20.18 AM

This is what the system would look like. Source: Business Insider UK.

Amazon is said to be aiming to bring this plan to fruition by creating a new computing environment. This would theoretically connect road management systems with transportation data which would communicate with the self-driving vehicle through an existing network.

This latest development has arrived in the wake of Amazon’s recent purchase of thousands of lorry trailers, another sign of the formation of future plans. Jim Curlander, a technical adviser at Prime Air is expected to be behind the new network, which is thought to be similar to the cloud platforms that companies are creating to help communicate traffic patterns and other pieces of data.

The fact that Amazon made the move to patent their own design for this network suggests that it has no plans to share the space, while simultaneously creating a system which any carmaker could utilise.

Amazon’s AI system Alexa was recently selected by Ford, which will be embedding the virtual assistant in some of its cars.

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