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Amazon electric vehicles take ground-up approach to driver safety and automation

The new Amazon electric vehicles will launch with a suite of advanced safety features and software integrations after the company consulted extensively with drivers.

In a blog post, the online marketplace shared details of the electric vehicles it is custom-building in partnership with Rivian.

As well as having zero emissions, the vehicles will include advanced safety features such as automated emergency braking, front and all-wheel drive options, lane keep assist, a pedestrian warning system, traffic sign recognition.

It also features an automatic warning system which can detect distracted driver behaviour and adaptive seatbelts and airbags that adjust to the driver’s size and weight.

The vehicles also feature integration with Amazon’s logistics management and routing software, offering built-in route management technology. It also integrates with Alexa, allowing driers to issue voice commands and requests.

Amazon and Rivian have also designed the vehicles to use light-weight and durable materials, making them easier to manoeuvre in urban environments.  The cabin is optimised for quick access, with doors designed to provide quick entry and exit for drivers.

As part of the design process, Amazon has allowed engineers to ride with Amazon’s current fleet of gas vehicles.

Amazon plans to have 10,000 of the vehicles on roads by 2022 and 100,000 by 2030.

Ross Rachey, director of Amazon’s global fleet, said: “We wanted to really work backwards from how the driver uses the vehicle.

“From the moment they step into the vehicle, to when they’re driving, when they park and look for a package, and how they exit the vehicle. Everything’s been customized for how they use that vehicle.”

“When a driver steps into this vehicle, they’ll take comfort knowing that the vehicle is designed specifically with them and their safety in mind. Not only is it sustainable, but you’re getting a host of performance benefits.”

R.J. Scaringe, CEO at Rivian, said: “It’s important that it’s not just electric, but that we actually make the vehicle better in every way.

“The vehicle is being designed for the driver. And through the process, we’ve had them in to provide feedback, and each time we learned something new, and we make adjustments. And when they come back, they see those adjustments. That iterative loop has been really critical.”

Amazon is not the only company in the logistics business taking a ground-up approach to design when it comes to electric vehicles. DHL has invested heavily in design through its StreetScooter subsidiary, which it has announced will cease production.