UPS has been testing an Amazon Key-style smart lock home delivery system, using locks from startup company Latch.
It’s been trialled in New York City apartment blocks, or “multi-home units”, as an option for residents who are not at home to receive parcels. As such, it’s not used for individual flats but is a way for couriers to leave packages at a designated point in the building.
“It can be difficult to securely deliver packages in high-density, multi-family urban residences, especially when people are not at home,” said Jerome Roberts, UPS vice president of global product innovation. “Smart access devices give us a keyless way to deliver packages to buildings and leave packages safely in lobbies or building package rooms. For our customers, it gives them peace of mind that their package will be waiting for them when they get home.”
UPS drivers are granted access using a handheld UPS Delivery Information Acquisition Device (DIAD), the same device used to scan barcodes and take signatures. Every time it’s used to enter a building—and access will only be allowed to specific buildings—Latch records the time, place and user to create an audit trail.
Residents themselves can use Latch to enter buildings and manage guest access, using the Latch smartphone app, though they would use the UPS My Choice app to manage deliveries.
UPS cites multi-home units as a big potential market for smart access devices, as there are currently about 20 million in the US, with 350,000 added each year.
Amazon, meanwhile, has been trialling car boot delivery. While it had previously tested smart locks, it switched to using the technology embedded in modern vehicles instead—though so far the service has only been available for a few specific car models.