All too often we talk about what the big tech providers are doing and how they are going to change our lives. But the real question comes down to: how are these tech moves going to impact our business? Well, we are actually getting a real glimpse into what many of the large technology providers are looking to do by simply taking a closer look at their patents. It’s really very telling to keep a close on the patent market.
For this particular article, let’s look specifically at the self-driving—or what many are calling the autonomous-driving—market. We see the big three, Apple, Google, and Amazon, making some pretty impressive plays for this segment. Most notably, all three have already thrown their hats in the self-driving ring in a pretty big way and are already making their mark known as to where they want to take a leadership position.
We’ve already seen Apple working with collision avoidance of arbitrary polygonal obstacles. This pretty complicated technology can be applied to convex or concave objects and ultimately for self-driving cars to minimize collisions.
Google, on the other hand, received a patent at the end of last year for determining pickup and destination locations for autonomous vehicles. This could mean a self-driving Uber of sorts is in the cards for this giant. Who knows? Time will tell what is really up its sleeve on this one, but it looks like the competition is really heating up, regardless of what direction it takes.
Amazon is perhaps the most interesting when it comes to construction since it received its patent notification earlier this year. Amazon received a patent for lane assignments for autonomous vehicles. This particular patent includes sharing lane direction and guidance information with self-driving vehicles that ride in what is known as reversible lanes. Interestingly, Amazon might be addressing a challenge that most everyone understands: reversible highway lanes to ease rush-hour congestion. And this new patent will address how automated vehicles need to be guided in these lanes.
What makes this patent so interesting, is that it could also be so much more than this. The technology can include any type of vehicle. The patent says “an autonomous vehicle can encompass vehicles that are not traditionally thought of as transportation vehicles.” This includes trash dumpsters, vacuum cleaners, lawnmowers; the skies the limit. Just let your imagination run wild now.
Just picture a world where your equipment is busy completing your tasks for you at the jobsite. Think about all those repetitive tasks that take so much time. Or more importantly, what about the fixed positions, or constrained space that lead to injury because your workers don’t have time to recover between movements? Can’t picture that? Envision equipment humming across a setting, moving around in perfect patterns to get the job done.
How about those possibilities?
Still, these patents are going to open a lot of doors for self-driving vehicles in the future and what can be achieved at the jobsite and elsewhere, for that matter. But make no mistake, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done. These patents are certainly driving us (no pun intended) toward an autonomous world where any type of vehicle will be able to perform tasks automatically.
And it’s exciting to see the tech giants advancing tech that will not only be used in some pretty impressive ways, but it will help to ease worker fatigue and safety in the field.
However, as we continue to think outside the box for technology usage, it will certainly be just as important to see all these companies thinking about building the infrastructure to enable these self-driving vehicles in many other forms. Here at Specialty Publishing Media, we have started down this course.
That is why Constructech has joined forces with construction leaders to spearhead the Baseline to Build On Initiative. We are working to develop a data-based protocol for commercial and residential construction organizations. And we will be having our first educational event on February 23 in San Jose, followed by our second event, which all are invited to attend May 11, in San Antonio at Joeris General Contractors, corporate headquarters. If you have not registered, we encourage you to join us now and help us create a data protocol that will change the way information is exchanged now and forever.
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