A recently published patent application originally filed by Amazon in July, 2016 with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) highlights one of the ways in which Amazon sees the future of home deliveries. As the patient specifically details the use of "autonomous ground vehicles," or as Amazon more simply describes them, "AGVs."
While there has already been a number of patents applied for, and suggestions made, of self-driving delivery units, what makes Amazon's AGVs a little different is that they do not deliver your parcels and packages. At least, not in the more traditional sense. As unlike other units which look to self-deliver from point A (the warehouse, for example) to point B (the buyer's front door), these AGVs are autonomous robots which will collect the package(s) from the (presumed self-driven delivery truck) and deliver just the last leg of the journey – to the front door. In some cases, even inside the front door. As Amazon envisions a future where each residence owns one of these AGVs and they act as a permanent fetcher of incoming packages. Those who live in more community-based properties (such as apartment complex) will likely only need one AGV to service the entire community, at least according to the patent.
In one example provided, the AGV would have the ability to meet the delivery truck in the street. The AGV would know the truck has arrived due to one of many possible implementations. For example, it could be programmed to receive a notification when the truck is approaching. Alternatively, an AGV could include sensors which would activate when the truck approaches, or directly be activated by the approaching truck – with the sound an ice cream truck makes when arriving at a location given as an example of this. In either case, once the truck and the AGV are in position, the AGV would collect the package(s), store them in their storage compartment (equipped with locking mechanism), and bring them to their end destination(s). The patent goes on to explain these AGVs might be equipped with the ability to open various access points such as front doors and garages so the packages can be more safely and securely delivered. The even grander vision sees multiple AGVs that are simultaneously serving a larger area all collectively turning up to meet the delivery truck when it arrives and queuing in an orderly fashion – likely dictated by delivery address and making use of the same sensors to form a line. The two images below were provided along with the patent application and serve to highlight what the AGVs might look like.