Amazon wants to use your car as a delivery locker on wheels

You finish work and walk to your car, and uh oh: someone has opened the boot in your absence. Only on closer inspection the mysterious visitor hasn’t emptied the vehicle of valuables but added some of their own instead.

This Bizarro World robbery is now being trialled in 37 cities in the US. Fresh off the back of getting very trusting Prime subscribers to let delivery drivers unlock their houses, Amazon has a new way of delivering packages to busy people who are never at home: your car can now be a portable delivery locker on wheels.

This approach is more seamless than Amazon Key: for starters, it doesn’t need new hardware. Instead it relies on existing connected car technology from General Motors and Volvo (2015 models and later).

This is how it works. First, users with a compatible car need to add their vehicle to the Amazon key app, writing a handy description of the car for the poor sap who has to find it in a crowded car park. Your vehicle needs to be parked within a certain radius of a verified Amazon delivery address for security reasons, but aside from that anywhere is fine.

When you select a car delivery, Amazon’s couriers will be given the GPS coordinates and a number plate alongside an image and your description of the car. When located, the delivery driver scans the package and requests the car be unlocked via GM or Volvo’s connected car service. The boot gets unlocked, then the delivery driver has to drop the package, verify delivery, close the trunk and ensure it’s locked before the next delivery location will appear.

There are some caveats. Amazon won’t let you send anything over 50lbs, that’s bigger than 26 x 21 x 16in, that needs a signature, that costs more than $1,300 (~£930), or comes from a third-party seller.

Presumably, there will be some kinks to iron out, which is likely why it’s limited to 37 cities for now. What happens if the car is parked in an area with no signal? What if there’s no space in the boot? What happens if you hop in the car and move it at the last moment in a hilarious prank? You can block access to the car at any point in the Key app if you need to run an errand or something, and in those circumstances, the delivery will default to the nearby verified address, so presumably it’s similar, but I’ve reached out to Amazon to check and will update this piece if I get a definitive answer.

Personally, I think this sounds like a pretty good idea assuming the security is up to snuff, but maybe that’s because I don’t own a car. At the very least, it’s a good use of existing technology. One of the main problems with the Amazon Key concept is that it requires the installation of bespoke hardware at the customer’s expense. With car deliveries, if you have the technology already, you might well decide that it doesn’t hurt to give it a try.

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