The United States Patent and Trademark Office awarded Google on Thursday a patent for what the company has dubbed an “autonomous delivery platform.”
First reported by Quartz, the patent exhibits Google’s vision of a driverless truck featuring a “package securing subsystem.” The subsystem would feature compartments that would hold at least one item for delivery. To protect the packages from theft, each storage space would be locked. Once the truck arrives at the delivery location, the customer would type in a pin code previously sent to them to open the storage unit containing their packages. Instead of typing in a code, the customer could also open the storage area using a credit card or near field communication (NFC) reader. After the delivery is finalized, the truck will either go to the next predetermined delivery location, or return to a storage location where it would be stocked with more packages.
Google does a good job of demonstrating the delivery phases through text, charts, and illustrations. Unfortunately, the images and text provided in the patent don’t provide much of a glimpse into the technology that will allow the truck to travel autonomously. The patent does describe the technology Google is currently testing in its self-driving vehicles:
“Automated road vehicles can use various sensors, for example, video cameras, radar sensors and laser range finders, to ‘see’ other traffic, as well as detailed maps to navigate a road, and a communication subsystem, such as a wireless communication subsystem, to communicate with a controller and other entities,” the patent reads.
Google filed the patent on July 1, 2013.