Last year, Amazon asked for permission to unlock the front door to be able to leave packages inside their home, and a certain number of extremely trusted Amazon Prime subscribers (Amazon will not say how many) said yes. Now, the technology giant wants to do the same with your car.
Amazon today announced a new service that gives your emails access to a person's vehicle for the purpose of leaving deliveries of packages inside. But instead of using smart locks and a camera connected to the cloud to gain access, Amazon wants to use the connected technologies incorporated today in many modern vehicles. The company is launching this new service in partnership with two major automakers: General Motors and Volvo, and will start operating in 37 cities in the US. UU From today.
"We are very pleased with the response to home delivery," said Peter Larsen, vice president of delivery technology at Amazon, The Verge . "What we wanted to do – and it was part of the plan all the time – is how we take it beyond the home."
Amazon has been beta testing the new service in California and the state of Washington for the past six months. In an Amazon video, a woman said she likes to take diapers to her car because it meant her babies could sleep unmolested by the doorbell. Another woman used it to have some birthday presents delivered to the trunk of her car so as not to give away her daughter.
To begin with, the service will only be available to Amazon Prime subscribers. It is also limited to owners of GM and Volvo vehicles, model year 2015 or newer, with active OnStar and Volvo on Call accounts. Amazon says it plans to add other car brands over time. Packages that weigh more than 50 pounds, measure more than 26 x 21 x 16 inches, require a signature, have a value of more than $ 1,300 or come from an outside vendor and are not eligible for in-car delivery.
Amazon signed a two-year contract with GM and Volvo, a source with knowledge of the agreement The Verge and the three companies have agreed to use these two years as a trial period. Neither the automakers nor Amazon expect to make additional money with the service, but they saw it as an additional convenience that they can market to their customers, the source added.
To access the new delivery service, you must add your car to your Amazon Key application and include a description of the vehicle, so that Amazon emails can locate it. The car must be parked within a certain radius of an address used for Amazon deliveries, therefore, either at home or at work. Entrances, parking lots, parking lots, and street parking are eligible places, as long as they are not randomly located throughout the city.
Last week, The Verge got an exclusive demo of the new Amazon service. After buying an item and selecting the delivery in the car, Amazon sends a series of notifications to inform you that the package is on its way. At any point, you can choose to change delivery locations or "block access" to the car in the Key application, if for some reason you need to make a quick errand or the person delivering will not have immediate access to your car. Then, if access to the vehicle is blocked, Amazon will automatically switch to its backup delivery location.
To find your car, Amazon emails will have access to your GPS location and license plate number, as well as an image of the car. An Amazon delivery employee named Christine demonstrated The Verge how she would use her own device to verify that she had found the car (a red Chevy Equinox), scan the package and then request the unlocking of the vehicle from Auto Services connected from Chevy. Amazon says it never has access to the customer's connected car login data and that all communications between the company and the connected car systems are encrypted.
"Note that you do not have a special key or direct access to the car," explained Larsen during the demonstration. "Go up to the Amazon Key cloud, and go to the Chevrolet cloud, in this case, which is where the unlock command is issued, we only unlock it if it's the right person, the right place, the right car, the right time, I have to pass all those controls. "
After checking the correct car, Christine slipped to unlock it and the Chevy's trunk automatically opened, revealing a suspiciously clean interior. She dropped the package, checked her delivery, closed the trunk and checked to make sure it was locked. "He can not move on to his next installment, he can not see the address, until that happens," Larsen added.
There is some concern about the "uptime" of vehicle connectivity, and the difficulty of Amazon emails may have access to the car manufacturer's cloud services in areas of low connectivity. In addition, Amazon will face a significant challenge to completely reshape its last mile supply chain, especially considering that they now have to deliver to a location that can change and change depending on where the car is parked. During the beta test, Amazon did not know the location of the car until about six hours before the delivery was scheduled, said the source with knowledge of the agreement.
Automakers have been experimenting with car deliveries, operating under the assumption that a person's car functions as a storage cabinet on wheels. In 2016, Volvo launched an in-car delivery option for residents of Stockholm, working with the Swedish startup Urb-it. Volkswagen says that its concept car ID will also work as a de facto mailbox. Amazon previously experimented with car deliveries, launching a short-lived pilot in Germany with Audi in 2015.
The decision to go with GM and Volvo as launch partners is a reflection of both automakers' approach to connected car technology . OnStar, a subsidiary of GM, is seen as a leader in call, navigation and emergency services with hands-free subscription. A GM spokesman said more than 7 million Chevy, Buick, Cadillac and GMC vehicles will be eligible for this new Amazon service. Volvo On Call is a similar service that offers subscribers road assistance, remote climate control and the ability to lock and unlock your car wherever you are. These high-tech features made a natural adjustment with Amazon, Larsen said.
Even so, some people will be automatically disconnected with this service, especially after reading that security researchers discovered that the Amazon camera connected to the cloud for home delivery can be disabled and frozen from a program executed from any computer within Wi-Fi distance. While the camera connected to the Amazon cloud provided a layer of security for those who wanted to monitor their deliveries at home through Amazon Key, the deliveries in the car do not offer a similar video feed. Amazon says that multiple notifications, plus the option to block access at any time, ensure that the customer has control of the process.
"It's safe," said Larsen. "The only difference is that there are no videos here."
In any case, potential customers can find the most attractive car deliveries from a cost perspective. To register, you are not required to spend $ 250 on an intelligent lock and camera as in home deliveries, and no installation is required. All you need is the right car and the willingness to let Amazon delivery employees unlock your vehicle. If you are not ashamed of Red Bull's empty cans and the mountain of unpaid parking tickets, Amazon's emails will not be either.