Car Food the Volvo Way

Cars will take grocery and other deliveries, even when the driver isn't present

Photo: Volvo
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A computer-scientist friend of mine opined long ago that the Internet will truly come of age only when he can download a beer. He was referring to the last-meter problem of online shopping: that of getting stuff through the door of an unoccupied house.

Maybe someday robot trucks will push containerized products through cat-flap-style openings in your garage. But why go to the garage when you can have access to the trunk of the car?

That's the solution proffered this week by Volvo. The company's plan for “roam delivery” would have stores deliver groceries straight to your locked car, using a one-time-only public encryption key. The transaction relies on Volvo on Call, an app that helps owners keep track of their cars when they’re away from them. The app tells the store where your car is parked so a courier can fill the trunk with groceries. Or maybe a hot pizza.

Tests went well in Sweden, an extremely orderly country, by all accounts. There are certain sectors of New York City, however, that I wouldn’t advise this app to invade, at least not until sensor-rich cars are able to instantly photograph whoever tries to open their trunks.  

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IEEE Spectrum’s general technology blog, featuring news, analysis, and opinions about engineering, consumer electronics, and technology and society, from the editorial staff and freelance contributors.