A new startup in Atlanta, Georgia, thinks it has found a solution to the problem of too many delivery vehicles: using the spare backseats of commuters’ cars.
The company is called Roadie. Using their mobile app, anyone can sign up and enter their daily routes or planned journeys, as well as their backseat capacity. The app then matches these journeys with shipments that can be delivered along the way.
In theory, this reduces the environmental impact of parcel delivery by using vehicles that are already on the road. According to CEO Marc Gorlin, amateur couriers would be notified by text any time a delivery opportunity came up, which they could then choose to accept.
The app supposedly tracks drivers’ habits, keeping tabs on where and how many times they take on jobs. It’s not primarily designed to be a full-time source of income, but something that complements the driver’s other day-to-day activities.
The flipside of this is potential unreliability in the event of a lack of willing drivers at any given time. Gorlin points out that it’s mainly for deliveries that aren’t particularly time-sensitive.
Like other similar gig-economy outfits, Roadie has received criticism for the relatively small earnings of its drivers. Security is also dependent on a driver rating system, though there are insurance options and photos taken of the item in transit.
But at the very least, the startup indicates another possibility for the future of parcel delivery. UPS seem interested, in any case, as they invested in the company.