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Amazon patents self-driving lane control system

Amazon Fresh truck
An Amazon Fresh truck goes out for deliveries. (Image by Atomic Taco, via Flickr – CC BY-SA 2.0)

There’s been a lot of speculation about Amazon’s interest in self-driving delivery trucks, and a newly issued patent suggests that the Seattle-based retailer is putting a lot of thought into how such a system would work.

The patent, issued today, concentrates on how a wireless control system could help autonomous vehicles negotiate changes in reversible lanes.

The arrangement would keep self-driving cars and trucks in contact with a central roadway management system. That system would track how lanes are allocated, and could even shift lanes from one direction to the other depending on demand.

“The roadway management system can identify a period of time and a particular lane of the roadway that is best suited to assign to the autonomous vehicle while taking into account an outcome directive,” Amazon’s inventors explain.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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