Thanks in large part to Hollywood images of the rise of the machines, people have long been fascinated by the idea of artificial intelligence. While we may be far from robots taking over the planet, we’re starting to see some real-life advancements in AI, particularly in the area of autonomous vehicles.
Google was one of the first to pique the public interest with its development of a self-driving car, which is still in the works and reportedly set to debut by 2020. Tesla is putting up some strong competition in the self-driving car arena and hopes to have their autonomous vehicles on the road under a similar timeframe as Google, if not sooner. Uber already released a self-driving car pilot program in Pittsburgh back in September using modified Ford Fusion cars, and the rideshare giant has reportedly partnered with Volvo to develop true driverless cars in the future.
Autonomous vehicles also have wide implications on commerce outside the traditional passenger vehicle space, largely in the realm of package delivery. The U.S. Postal Service is currently looking into the potential of employing self-driving cars and trucks to assist with mail delivery and transportation. DHL has similarly announced plans to start testing self-driving trucks as early as 2018.
There’s already successful precedent for the use of autonomous vehicles for delivery purposes. Amazon made waves when it announced its intention to use drones for small package deliveries, and the first successful drone delivery test happened in the U.K. in December 2016. UPS has likewise been testing the possibilities of drone delivery. Last month, Ford tested the delivery capabilities of its autonomous vehicles by partnering with Domino’s Pizza to use self-driving cars to deliver pizzas in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
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