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Amazon Go, Fresh and Prime Air: A triple threat for driverless delivery future

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Amazon is set to open a chain of grocery stores to compliment its online shopping portal while investing in driverless delivery methods to rival Wal-Mart and Target.

The triple threat of Amazon Go, Amazon Fresh, and Amazon Prime Air all point to a fully immersed shopping experience whereby customers can shop either online or at physical locations with the option of autonomous vehicle delivery service.

Already, this has been a big week for research into self-driving vehicles. Yesterday, Uber announced its acquisition of an AI startup to develop driverless cars while Apple confirmed yesterday that it is indeed developing similar technologies.

Read More: Driverless vehicle competition revs-up with Uber’s AI startup acquisition

Now Amazon, who brokered a deal with Ford in January to develop self-driving cars, is set to open a chain of state-of-the-art grocery stores that comes fully integrated with the latest technologies in retail starting next year, which could include drone deliveries in the near future.

Amazon Go

With the Amazon Go shopping centers, customers will be able to scan their phones at the entry kiosk and continue to shop without having to wait in checkout lines. Utilizing advanced sensors, every item carried out of the store will be automatically charged to a customer’s digital account without having to scan anything. People can just pickup the items they want, and well… go, like the name implies.

Amazon Go is currently open to Amazon employees as part of a Beta program in Seattle, and will open to the public in early 2017.

Amazon Fresh

Already available in select areas, Amazon Fresh offers “a wide selection of fresh groceries right to your home, and you can choose the most convenient delivery time for you.” Now that Amazon is opening its own chain of grocery stores, it is the perfect compliment to Amazon Fresh, but what is the current delivery method?

As it stands, Amazon is still delivering goods through traditional shipping methods just like everybody else — meaning not with autonomous vehicles. However, the online retailers are putting all the pieces in place to setup the most advanced shopping experience in the world.

Amazon Prime Air

Amazon already has its signature online shopping portal with delivery service, and the forthcoming brick-and-mortar grocery stores will bring it one step closer towards the goal of automating the delivery process through driverless vehicles, whether they be cars or some type of autonomous aircraft like drones.

Can you imagine opening your front door or window to receive your groceries from a floating drone? Well, Amazon Prime Air has been under development for a couple of years to do just that. However, there are many logistical problems to tackle before this becomes fully operational.

By giving customers the option of either entering a store without having to wait in line, or shopping for groceries at home for delivery — again without waiting in line — Amazon is raising the bar for its competitors Wal-Mart and Target to either adapt to modern times or go the way of the dodo.

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Tim Hinchliffe
Tim Hinchliffe is the editor of The Sociable. His passions include writing about how technology impacts society and the parallels between Artificial Intelligence and Mythology. Previously, he was a reporter for the Ghanaian Chronicle in West Africa and an editor at Colombia Reports in South America. tim@sociable.co