Transport and logistics giant UPS Inc. has been testing a service that allows its delivery drivers to open "smart locks" on apartment buildings and leave packages for residents in the lobby area instead of waiting to be admitted by doormen or residents, the company said today.
The approach has improved delivery efficiency on urban routes in New York City by reducing the number of missed deliveries and by allowing drivers to complete more deliveries on the first attempt, Atlanta-based UPS said. UPS began preliminary tests in Manhattan earlier this year, has now expanded to Brooklyn, and may eventually offer the service in markets throughout the U.S., the company said.
The system relies on smart locks provided by New York-based Latch, a firm which provides an electronic lock that can be opened by residents or others who have the appropriate code on their smartphone. In UPS' case, drivers use the same handheld computers they carry to provide route planning and to record proof of delivery signatures. To ensure security, the credential for each lock works only for a specific building and creates an audit trail that identifies the user and their time of access, according to UPS.
Also known as smart access devices, the electronic lock system helps drivers complete deliveries in the difficult urban environment, Jerome Roberts, UPS vice president of global product innovation, said in a statement. "It can be difficult to securely deliver packages in high-density, multi-family urban residences, especially when people are not at home," Roberts said. "Smart access devices give us a keyless way to deliver packages to buildings and leave packages safely in lobbies or building package rooms."
The initiative differs from a smart-lock delivery service launched in 2017 by e-tailer Amazon.com Inc. that allows parcel carriers to enter consumers' private homes, UPS spokesperson Kyle Peterson said in an email. In contrast to that "Amazon Key" system, UPS' approach grants a carrier access only to the common areas of multi-unit residences, not into the individual residential units, he said.
However, Amazon is also building a system that supports package delivery to apartment building lobbies. In June, Amazon announced its "Hub by Amazon" initiative, saying that its network of parcel delivery lockers located in building lobbies—as well as in many storefronts and Whole Foods Markets grocery stores—would support the safe storage of packages in urban e-commerce delivery.
Likewise, UPS also offers flexible locations for parcel delivery through its UPS My Choice service, which allows consumers to have packages delivered to UPS Access Point locations such as neighborhood grocery stores, dry cleaners, and The UPS Store sites.