Whereas Amazon has drummed up loads of hype for its small-scale drone supply plans, the corporate introduced one thing far more thrilling—and tangible—this week. Beginning in 2021, some Amazon supply drivers will sit behind the wheel of a brand new electrical supply truck made with Rivian.
It’s possible you’ll already be acquainted with the Rivian title. The corporate is presently taking pre-orders for its R1T electrical pickup truck and R1S electrical SUV, each of which is able to value round $70,000 once they ship. Rivian employs a expertise it calls the Skateboard in its manufacturing autos. It includes a mostly-flat platform that incorporates the batteries, motors, and the remainder of the drivetrain. From there, the corporate has plenty of flexibility in what it does with the cabin that sits on prime. That enables for attractive options like a pickup truck with a built-in grill that slides out once you wish to cook dinner and copious quantities of space for storing.
The partnership isn’t fully shocking. Amazon was half of a big $2.5 billion funding into Rivian earlier this yr. It’s additionally not all that shocking to see Amazon’s car emerge virtually fully-formed—Rivian began again in 2009, however didn’t introduce its first actual industrial autos till 2018.
Amazon hasn’t gotten right down to the nitty gritty particulars in regards to the autos simply but—we nonetheless don’t know what sort of vary or efficiency they may have. However, the corporate has shared some key particulars. The brand new van is one in all three new autos concerned with the Rivian partnership, and Amazon plans to have 10,000 whole new rigs out on the highway in 2022. By 2030, the corporate hopes to bump that quantity all the way in which as much as 100,000.
The van itself has a brand new sensor array for collision avoidance and driver help, which features a cluster of cameras that may funnel a 360-degree view of the skin of the car to the touchscreen inside. Amazon clearly doesn’t intend for the car to drive itself, but when the sensors embody time-of-flight and Lidar models, it may have a high-level of autonomy.
Amazon’s sensible assistant Alexa will even come as customary gear on the vans with the intention to enable drivers to request instructions and climate through voice instructions. The car shall be tied tightly into Amazon’s logistics techniques, which Amazon says will improve security and effectivity by lowering the necessity for additional units. Nonetheless, it may additionally improve the potential for the corporate to observe the drivers’ each transfer.
Amazon and Rivian say the businesses consulted with present Amazon supply drivers to get suggestions on what options they valued. Skilled drivers even examined totally different designs in VR to get extra correct suggestions.
On the outside of the car, the windshield has been prolonged for higher visibility and the brake lights define your entire car, which ought to make them troublesome to overlook should you’re driving behind one.
The vans will begin rolling out subsequent yr, however Amazon’s electrical fleet may change shortly if the corporate begins rolling out the opposite two Rivian designs it plans to launch. And whereas it might nonetheless be a while earlier than they’re as omnipresent as different supply vans, they may definitely beat drones to the supply punch.