Amazon has entered into an agreement with Plus, a self-driving freight startup, to retrofit 1,000 trucks.
According to Bloomberg, under the agreement, Amazon has an option to acquire up to 20% equity stake based on the purchase of up to $150 million of Plus' products. This move could allow Amazon to continue to grow its fleet of autonomous vehicles for the future of e-commerce.
Amazon has been exploring alternate means of distributing its packages and goods that are more environmentally friendly compared to traditional gasoline and diesel trucks.
A few years ago, Amazon introduced Amazon Scout, a mobile autonomous robot designed to deliver packages on city sidewalks and able to navigate safely around pedestrians and other objects in its path. Meanwhile, Amazon continues to move forward with its plans to use drones for delivery, recently unveiling new models for hybrid drones that could enable vertical takeoffs and landings but function more like an airplane.
However, these technological innovations are unlikely to completely replace or even displace traditional truck deliveries soon. Due to increasing demand expected for e-commerce, more trucks will be needed, and self-driving trucks are seen as a way to meet demands as well as match the ongoing driver shortage that is only expected to worsen as driver’s age.
Plus has been active this year in collaborating with Iveco, a Chinese manufacturer of vehicles powered by alternative fuels, to meet parcel demands in China. Plus also completed a 2,800 mile journey from California to Pennsylvania in a self-driving truck carrying Land O’Lakes butter as cargo.