"Last-mile delivery" describes the transportation of a product from a central hub to its final customer. Companies like UPS and FedEx are always looking to improve this process for consumers, but it seems as if Amazon's trunk delivery may be poised to put the others to shame. Using various technologies, Amazon will allow packages to be delivered directly to the trunks of customers' vehicles. As with any new technology, though, there are two sides to every story.
Benefits of Amazon Trunk Delivery
The main benefit behind Amazon trunk delivery is the convenience. In fact, Amazon and the car manufacturers involved -- Volvo and General Motors -- won't charge a single cent more for the option. Each manufacturer will simply use its respective service on call button -- Volvo on Call and OnStar -- to unlock a vehicle's trunk when the Amazon delivery person arrives.
This means that someone who's at a doctor's appointment can have packages placed in their vehicles instead of sitting on their porch. What if a child is at home during the day and the parent doesn't want a birthday gift to arrive in their absence? The same logic holds true.
It's also worth noting that it's cheaper than Amazon's in-home package service, which requires a $250 camera and smart lock, because the option is free. Delivery locations can even be changed during the day and vehicles locked if something comes up.
Disadvantages of Amazon Trunk Delivery
Unfortunately, no current delivery method is perfect. The first concern to jump into most people's mind is whether they can trust the driver. Unlike the in-home system, which has camera monitoring, there is no such camera provided with trunk delivery. And while the driver will have to work directly through OnStar or Volvo on Call to unlock a trunk, there's still no guarantee that they're trustworthy.
Of course, there are other issues which may be of more concern. Over the years, the media has been littered with news of hacks. Amazon states that data will be encrypted, but Yahoo spent $10 million on encryption technology and still allowed 500 million users' information to be breached. In fact, it took General Motors half a decade to fix a bug that allowed hackers to control most aspects of a vehicle through its OnStar.
No matter how much employee vetting is done or how secure we think these systems are, the truth is that they're still vulnerable. These risks may not be overwhelming, but they certainly exist.
The Future of Delivery
For all of its potential faults, Amazon trunk delivery will undoubtedly find an audience. It's important to remember, though, that this is far from the apex of delivery technology. There's been talk for years, for instance, of using Amazon Air to deliver via drones. Unfortunately, current regulations are getting in the way, and some experts believe this method will never come to fruition.
The potential failure of Amazon Air -- even before it starts - has led others to come up with their own ideas. Starship Technologies, for instance, is already testing a small robot that will navigate public sidewalks via cameras and GPS to make deliveries. Starship is also working with Mercedes to test a human-driven van, known as Robovan, that can transport up to eight of these robots anywhere they choose.
It's also worth noting that researchers in the United Kingdom are trying to develop an automated underground pipe system to ensure speedy arrival even in congested areas. When considering this along with the possibility of driverless cars transporting robots with packages around a city, the future looks promising.
The Best Is Yet to Come
While it remains to be seen if Amazon trunk delivery will be accepted by the general public, it seems poised to be the next big thing in improved convenience for consumers. Fortunately, it most certainly won't remain the most convenient option. With new technologies coming out every day, last-mile delivery problems may eventually be nonexistent.
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