An obvious but exciting development in the world of autonomous vehicles arrived today. As noted by Quartz, Google has been awarded a patent on self-driving delivery trucks that would bring packages to your door. The truck would be full of secure compartments that the waiting human can open with a pin number or credit card. The only real question is: will this be faster or cheaper than ordering from Amazon Prime Air or Uber's inevitable entry into the world of autonomous package delivery?
The patent explains that the truck would use a combination of sensors such as radar, video cameras, and range-finding lasers to see the road and traffic around it. Customers could request a delivery, choose the method they want for unlocking the secure compartment, and even be notified by text when the truck is close to arrival. And if it gets stuck in traffic, assuming traffic still exists as a problem in world of driverless cars, the truck will text to say it's going to be late. If only the cable guy was so thoughtful.
Most of the patent is taken up with covering every possible base. Google doesn't pay these fancy lawyers for nothing. The truck might rely on a laptop, tablet, television, handheld computer, or PDA as its networking device. It might use Bluetooth or NFC. It could leverage a VPN, LAN network, WAN network, or MAN network (not to be confused with an actual man, who will not be needed for much of anything anymore).