Amazon can already unlock the front door of your home (if you let them) to deliver your packages, and now, the retail giant is looking for access to your car, too. All in the name of convenience, Amazon has launched yet another service that makes it easier for you to receive your ecommerce orders. This new feature doesn’t depend upon smart locks or cameras (as Amazon Key does), but rather on connected technology that is already inherent to several 21st-century vehicles.
Volvo and General Motors have signed on to be Amazon’s first partners in the new in-car delivery program. Folks with 2015 and newer connected Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, and Cadillac vehicles who have an active OnStar remote access subscription, or a Volvo car with an On Call account, can take advantage of the feature. As of today, in-car delivery is available in 37 cities across the United States.
“Customers have also told us they love features like keyless guest access and being able to monitor their front door from anywhere with the Amazon Key App,” said Peter Larsen, Vice President of Delivery Technology for Amazon. “In-car delivery gives customers that same peace of mind and allows them to take the Amazon experience with them. And, with no additional hardware or devices required, customers can start ordering in-car delivery today.”
Amazon has actually been testing the offering in California and Washington state over the last six months. It has apparently been a hit with customers who perhaps don’t want to be disturbed at their front door, but still want the convenience of getting packages delivered to their homes (or another easily accessible location).
Initially, only Amazon Prime subscribers will be able to choose in-car delivery, though there are a few additional caveats as well. In addition to having a compatible car with an OnStar or On Call account, Amazon is also limiting packages to those that are valued under $1,300 and do not come from a third-party seller. Furthermore, if your delivery weighs more than 50 pounds or is larger than 26 x 21 x 16 inches in size, you’ll have to sign for the delivery before it can be deposited into the trunk.
Accessing the new service should be pretty simple — just add your car to your Amazon Key app (the same app that lets you control in-home deliveries), and provide a description of your vehicle for easy location. Then, you’ll need to be sure that your car is parked within a certain distance of an address that is eligible for Amazon deliveries, most likely your home or your office. You can set delivery for a driveway, parking lot, parking garage, or even the street — just be sure it’s associated with a nearby address.
So how is Amazon ensuring that random delivery people aren’t just breaking into people’s cars? As per The Verge, Amazon will send customers several notifications alerting them that a package is en route. If you want to change your delivery location or block access to your car, you can do that immediately from the app — Amazon will either reschedule or go to your backup delivery location. In order to locate your car, Amazon’s couriers will be able to see its GPS location, license plate number, and an image of the car. They will then verify that they have found the correct car, scan the package, and request to unlock the vehicle from a connected car service.
“Note that [the courier] doesn’t have a special key or direct access to the car,” Larsen explained to The Verge during a demo of the service. “It’s going up to the Amazon Key cloud, and it’s going over to the Chevrolet cloud, in this case, which is where the unlock command is issued. We only actually do the unlock if it’s the right person, right place, right car, right time. Got to pass all those checks.”
Then, the package is delivered, its delivery is verified, and the car is relocked. “[The courier] can’t move on to her next delivery, she can’t see the address, until that happens,” Larsen added.
Of course, given that the service is still in its early stages, there will doubtless be a few kinks to iron out. And given that Amazon Key didn’t necessarily face the warmest reception upon its initial unveiling, it’s likely that there will be a few naysayers to in-car delivery as well. Regardless, for the time being, it’s another delivery option that you can explore.