From making cars talk using Alexa’s voice to managing data from factories full of robots, Amazon wants a big piece of the action in transportation, and this week at CES, the world’s biggest tech show, will unveil more about its strategy to achieve that goal.
The US retail and cloud services powerhouse plans to use the annual technology show in Las Vegas to unveil its plan to be a major player in self-driving vehicle technology, connected cars, electric vehicles, and management of the torrents of data generated by carmakers and drivers.
Amazon Web Services (AWS), which provides large-scale cloud computing and data management services, is central to Amazon’s strategy.
“We really are extending ourselves more and more out in the ecosystem from manufacturing to connected car,” said Jon Allen, head of professional services in AWS’s automotive practice.
The takeaway message on this is if you go to CES this year we really are taking it as a One Amazon view.
Until now, Amazon has shown its transportation strategy to investors — and rivals — one piece at a time.
Amazon has invested in self-driving software startup Aurora. It has also signed deals with carmakers to deliver packages to vehicles, help develop electric vehicle charging networks, and use AWS to network their factories.
The company will share the CES stage with partners such as virtual reality firm ZeroLight, electric vehicle startup Rivian, Canada’s BlackBerry, and video game software development company Unity Technologies.
"It’s our attempt to weave everything together in a single experience for our customers,” said Dean Phillips, AWS’s automotive technical leader.
“Customers don’t distinguish AWS from Alexa from Amazon.com. It’s Amazon.”
At CES, ZeroLight and General Motors’ Cadillac will demonstrate how they are partnering to develop an online vehicle configuration experience that will allow high-fidelity images of vehicles that consumers build online to be taken with them on visits to dealers, said Mr Phillips.
The process can open the door to dealers better meeting customer needs by knowing what users focused on when building their dream car. It has already boosted profit per vehicle at Volkswagen’s Audi brand, he said.
Rivian, in which Amazon has twice invested, will demonstrate Alexa in the R1T electric pickup truck it will begin building in the autumn, as well as the companion R1S SUV that will follow, said Mr Phillips.
Rivian will begin building 100,000 electric delivery vans for Amazon starting in 2021. Alexa will be integrated into all of those vehicles.