Self-driving cars

Amazon's autonomous vehicles bet could make deliveries even cheaper

In this illustration, a cardboard Amazon delivery box is fashioned into the shape of a car.
Photo: Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Amazon has been pouring money into autonomous vehicle technology, a strategy that could squeeze its retail competitors by allowing it to control the entire shopping process from click-to-buy to delivery.

What's new: The online retail giant was fairly quiet about its AV ambitions until now. But with a rapid-fire series of investments, Amazon is declaring its intention to automate shipping and logistics every step of the way — from its warehouses to highways to your doorstep.

Expert Voices

How a new generation of AI chips could speed up AV computing

Illustration of a car with loading symbols instead of wheels
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

AVs have to interpret sensor data, determine their next moves and follow through on them, all of which requires exceedingly complex AI. To meet those demands in real time, computing for AVs will have to happen onboard the vehicle.

Why it matters: The alternative to onboard computing for driving functions would be vehicles relying on unstable network bandwidth for cloud computing while cruising at highway speeds. A specialized AI chip market has emerged to create platforms that can perform these complex computations almost instantaneously, while using as little power as possible.

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