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Autonomous trucks could help Amazon make faster deliveries. (Amazon Photo)

Amazon has had a team dedicated to researching autonomous vehicles for more than a year, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal this morning.

The group isn’t working on building its own driverless cars and trucks. Instead, Amazon employees are working together to flesh out the best way to use autonomous vehicles in other operations.

The most obvious application is Amazon’s increasingly robust delivery network. Without drivers who get fatigued, autonomous vehicles could facilitate faster ground deliveries over long distances.

Amazon’s research into self-driving cars is ongoing. The company’s robotics team is looking for “passionate and talented research scientists to develop future mobility and transportation systems,” according to job openings posted to Amazon’s website.

“We are looking for excellent candidates with expertise in perception for autonomous vehicles that operate alongside human users in highly dynamic and uncertain environments,” a listing says. 

In January, Amazon won a patent for a central control system to help autonomous vehicles deal with route changes on the road.

Amazon’s work in autonomous vehicles isn’t in the media spotlight the way its drone program is. At the end of 2016, Amazon began deploying delivery drones in the U.K. through its Amazon Prime Air initiative. As part of that program, Amazon has also leased a fleet of 40 branded airplanes. The company bought thousands of truck trailers and even filed a patent for a system that would allow drones to hitch rides on trucks or buses.

All these transportation programs are part of Amazon’s broader goal to own its supply chain and facilitate the fastest deliveries possible.

Read the full Wall Street Journal story with details on the driverless car team here.

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