Delivery drones aren’t the only robotic device Amazon has in the works for improving life and responding to consumer demand.

The company has decided to enter the automated vehicle trend too, following behind the likes of Google and a wide range of car manufacturers, if we are to believe a patent the retailer has filed with the US Patent Office.

The Sense and Avoid system for automated vehicles would make it safer for driverless cars, its delivery drones and other transportation means to operate on public roads, airways and water, ensuring they can detect if there’s a possible hazard ahead, such as slowing traffic, an accident or obstruction in their path.

Allaying safety fears

The biggest concern for all automated vehicles, whether on the road or operating in other public places is that they can mean danger for the public, because, after all, there’s no human physically controlling the machine.

“While there are many beneficial uses of these vehicles, they also have many drawbacks,” Amazon’s new patent reads. “For example, UAVs require involvement to ensure that the vehicles do not collide with other UAVs or other objects.”

How it works

The system uses laser, sonar and other signals that can sense other objects and calculate the distance between them and its own body and thereby avoid collisions.

It is thought that this process could be used on ground, water or in the air, so it really isn’t just limited to vehicles [link to Autonomous cars will be mainstream by 2025 article], although it’s pretty likely that will be the first demonstration of the system for consumers and Amazon’s own Delivery Drones.