Last year, Amazon asked for permission to unlock your front door so it could leave packages inside your home, and a certain number of extremely trusting Amazon Prime subscribers (Amazon won't say how many) said okay. Now, the tech giant wants to do the same thing with your car. Amazon announced today a new service that gives its couriers access to a person's vehicle for the purpose of leaving package deliveries inside. But rather than use smart locks and a cloud-connected camera to gain entry, Amazon wants to use the connected technologies embedded in many modern vehicles today. The company is launching this new service in partnership with two major automakers -- General Motors and Volvo -- and will be rolling out in 37 cities in the US starting today.
If you live in Washington, D.C., or Redwood, Calif., you may have glimpsed a small, boxy robot rolling along a local sidewalk, minding it's own business, but attracting the attention of many a curious onlooker. The autonomous machines -- which look like the spawn of an Igloo Cooler and a slow cooker -- were part of a pilot program last year by Starship Technologies focused on delivering meals from local restaurants in dozens of cities around the world. This week, the company unveiled plans to broaden its delivery service beyond food to include packages, a move that led it to declare itself "the world's first robot package delivery service." "Today, more than ever, people lead busy and diverse lives," Lex Bayer, Starship's chief executive, said in a statement online. "The hassle of needing to rearrange your life for a delivery will become a thing of the past. No more having to switch your working from home day, reschedule meetings, visit a locker, drive to a post office or contact a courier all because of a missed delivery."
With the introduction of its latest delivery drone iteration, the Scout, Amazon is once again reassuring the shopping public that automated package delivery services are just just around the corner. Just as they've been promising since 2013, when founder Jeff Bezos went on 60 Minutes and claimed that the technology would be commonplace within 5 years. But unfortunately for his predictions, the march of progress rarely sticks to a set schedule. Over the past half decade, a litany of companies worldwide have sought to build and deploy dozens of drone-based delivery services, with varying degrees of success. Last May, Ele.me, Alibaba's online meal ordering service, began using drones in Jinshan Industrial Park to get meals to mouths in just 20 minutes, a fraction of the time it'd take a human courier to drive through Shanghai traffic.
Amazon's much-anticipated (and long time coming) drone deliveries might technically finally be happening, but a new patent spotted by CNN suggests your next book or box-set might actually arrive via parachute. There are many practical, legal and technical challenges that drone deliveries present -- and getting the parcel on the ground is just one of them. So far, deliveries have been carried out in relatively controlled locations where a drone can land to release its cargo. A safe landing isn't possible everywhere, not to mention other environmental hazards such as humans, pets and other obstacles. Also, this is Amazon, where efficiency is king.