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Volvo wants to deliver stuff right to your car

Tue, 25 Feb 2014

If you've missed deliveries of items you've ordered online because you weren't home when the delivery person showed up (who knew they have the same working hours as you?), then you may be interested to hear that Volvo has a new system in development that could enable logistics companies to deliver things right to your car, whether you're there or not.

The cost of missed parcel deliveries amounts to 1 billion Euros per year according to Volvo. This week at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the automaker showed off a system that would notify car owners, via a smartphone or tablet, when a delivery company wants to drop off or pick up something from their car. Volvo's digital key system would allow car owners to select their car as a delivery destination, allowing a delivery company to locate the car via GPS and open the trunk to deliver a parcel via a temporary digital key from their own tablet. Once a parcel is delivered, the temporary digital key is erased.

Volvo has already tested out this system, based on the automakers' Volvo on Call telematics system (comparable to systems such as General Motors' OnStar or Mercedes-Benz's Mbrace) with 100 people, 86 percent of whom agreed that the "roam delivery" option saved them time.

“By turning the car into a pickup and drop-off zone through digital keys, we solved a lot of problems delivering goods to people, not places," said Klas Bendrik, Group CIO at Volvo Car Group. "The test customers also indicated that the service clearly saved time. And there are benefits for delivery companies as well because failed first-time deliveries generate significant costs for companies. We are now further investigating the technology of digital keys and new consumer benefits linked to it."

The system would use a temporary digital key that could allow delivery agents to place parcels in your car without an actual key.

Granted, we haven't thought of our cars as mobile mailboxes, and the thought of a complete stranger having temporary access to our car to drop off or pick up something may be a bit too futuristic for some car owners. But then again, we've also had to deal with a variety of missed delivery stickers generated by logistics companies that operate under the impression that everyone who buys things online works from home and never goes out for lunch.

We think the bigger question may be: are you tech-savvy and comfortable enough with giving a delivery company the ability to constantly track, and to see the inside of, your car just to drop off a DVD boxed set of "Game of Thrones" you bought on Amazon?

By Jay Ramey