Amazon recently won a patent for "Mobile Pickup Locations" that could lead to a service enabling customers to pick up their Amazon packages from public buses and similar vehicles, according to the patent document.
The patent document states, "A user may then choose to have items delivered to a mobile pickup location on the vehicle which the user takes every day traveling from the office to home, or which stops at a bus stop, station or other location that is convenient for the user." The mobile location can be tracked with GPS and the user notified through a text or a call that an ordered item is approaching.
Customers collecting packages from a mobile location could be provided with an access code to unlock a storage compartment containing their packages. The offering is aimed at customers who may not want their packages delivered to their homes, but also may not have a convenient alternative package pick-up location nearby. Amazon has not responded to Retail Dive's request for comment.
This isn't the first time the notion of utilizing public transportation for delivery has emerged. Back in 2015, reports surfaced about Amazon's plan to deliver packages using subways and buses. The concept of collecting packages from mobile transportation is an extension of a long-standing practice of Amazon, UPS and others providing customers with package pick-up lockers in accommodating locations like grocery stores. A storage locker on a bus could prove even more convenient if a customer takes the bus to and from work each day or lives close to a bus stop.
But it's unclear what plans, if any, Amazon has to leverage this patent. There are plenty of patents held by companies throughout the retail sector that either take years to be acted on or never result in commercial applications.
In this case, Amazon earned the patent almost exactly five years after its filing, and in an interesting turn of events the person whose name is on the patent, Kushal Mukesh Bhatt, now works for Walmart, according to a GeekWire report.
Ultimately, the patent is the latest in a long line of ideas Amazon has given birth to over the years as it has sought to innovate and dominate in the fulfillment space. For example, a little over five years ago, right around the time of this latest patent's filing date, Amazon earned a patent for "anticipatory shipping" — the notion of initiating the early phases of the shipping process for products on customers' wish lists. Additionally, in late 2016, Amazon landed a patent for a blimp-like "airborne fulfillment center." While some of these ideas may not come to fruition, it's more evidence of how aggressively Amazon is pushing for new ways to disrupt fulfillment.