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Are Amazon planning to use trains & metros as mobile pickup points?

Posted by Luke Upton on Aug 19, 2015

Amazon_PackagingThe seemingly unstoppable growth of Amazon and its many services continues, though as an ever increasing number of packages are shipped – 5bn+ items in 2014 – it’s now pursuing new and innovative ways to deliver them. We’ve seen solutions for overcoming this challenge include plans for Amazon Prime Air - a future delivery system using small unmanned aerial vehicles (aka drones) and most recently members of the publicwho in place of couriers would drop off packages en-route to other destinations. However, a new Amazon patent application, made public last week, describes a plan for delivering packages via public transport — turning buses, trains, metros and other vehicles into roaming pickup locations. Uncovered by Geek Wire it offers an interesting perspective on a potentially big opportunity for public transport.

The lengthy full patent application can be found here and to quote just a small part of it: “a mobile pickup location may be associated with a vehicle such as a public bus, train, subway car, boat, airplane, helicopter, etc. A user may then choose to have items delivered to the mobile pickup location on the vehicle which the user takes every day travelling from the office to home, or which stops at a bus stop, station or other location that is convenient for the user. Also, in regions where carriers for delivering items are rare or prohibitively expensive, a mobile pickup location may be utilized to deliver items. For example, for a user who lives in a rural village, an item can be delivered in a mobile pickup location on a vehicle which has a stop near the village.”

The application includes the potential that the person awaiting delivery of a package via a mobile pickup location could track the shipment using GPS and receive real-time text message communications about the mobile location’s status. The advantages for commuters with this would be clear - order at lunch and pick up on the train home?

This is of course still a theoretical idea, though as SmartRail World has covered before Amazon are no strangers to working with public transport. Last year in the UK it was announced that Amazon customers will be able to pick-up packages from railways stations under a deal agreed with a new click-and-collect firm, Doddle. However last month, it was confirmed that Doddle will launch fewer parcel collection points at stations than initially planned – closer to 150 over the next few years, compared with the 300 originally planned.

Perhaps with Amazon planning to use trains as mobile pickup points, it is the rolling stock and not the train station itself most likely to be where you pick up your parcels in the near future?

Thanks to Geek Wire alerting us to this story, and they discovered the filing via via the Sqoop news alert service.

Read Building the Digital Transport Network of the Future


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Topics: Passenger Information Systems

Luke Upton

Written by Luke Upton

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