Amazon developing high-tech roads to help control self-driving cars

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Jan 18, 2017

Like it or not, self-driving cars are the future — and now Amazon is looking to be a part of it. (No word yet on if you get to avoid traffic with an Amazon Prime account.)

The e-commerce juggernaut has been awarded a patent for a new type of network designed to manage a specific (and potentially dangerous) part of self-driving technology. The Amazon tech is designed to manage reversible lanes, which indicate a change of direction in traffic with overhead signals. Those can be hard for a self-driving car to manage, and if it's not reading things correctly, it could send you careening head-first into oncoming traffic.

Amazon's patent lays out a network designed to communicate with self-driving vehicles so they can adjust to the traffic flow on the fly. Considering the fact that Amazon ships stuff across state lines fairly regularly, this tech could be critical for a future fleet of self-driving Amazon trucks shipping stuff all over the country. The system also includes a way to assign vehicles specific (applicable) lanes to avoid traffic.

Amazon is looking to control this network itself and make it available to different auto manufacturers, so if it catches on, it could potentially be part of a new standard for self-driving auto companies. Recode notes the system is akin to the tech self-driving car companies are already using to relay traffic and safety info.

Self-driving cars were a major focus at the recent CES tech trade show, and it looks like we're in the midst of a potential standards war for self-driving technology in the future. It's not just Tesla anymore, and this industry is about to get a whole lot bigger.

(Via Recode)