Amazon is looking to speed up the process for trucks to get in and out of its massive warehouses with a new app called Relay.
CNBC first spotted the app and reported it rolled out late last month on both Apple and Android app stores. It allows truck drivers to enter information about their cargo in advance and then scan their phones to quickly check in and check out of facilities.
The app description indicates that Amazon plans to or has already installed special lanes at some of its warehouses for truck drivers using Relay to get them in and out even faster.
Amazon has been wading deeper into trucking in recent months. Last year a report indicated that the tech giant was working on an application to connect truckers with shippers, similar to what well-funded Seattle startup Convoy does. Relay doesn’t quite fit that description as it focuses on Amazon’s internal operations.
Jeff Wilke — the CEO of Amazon.com’s Worldwide Consumer group — is an investor in Convoy, as is Jeff Bezos’ venture capital arm, Bezos Expeditions. Dan Lewis, the CEO of Convoy, spent two years at Amazon as a general manager of new customer experiences.
Amazon isn’t the only company trying to improve the trucking experience, with most efforts focused on automation. In May, Uber, which also acquired self-driving truck tech company Otto in 2016, unveiled its Convoy competitor, Uber Freight. Earlier this year chip maker Nvidia teamed up with Bellevue, Wash. truck producer Paccar to develop self-driving truck technology.
Just last night, Elon Musk’s Tesla unveiled an all-electric Semi truck. It should become available in 2019 and includes Tesla’s enhanced Autopilot system. By Tesla’s calculation, the cost per mile for its all-electric semi would be $1.26, compared with $1.51 for a diesel.
In April, reports surfaced that Amazon has a team researching how to best take advantage of autonomous vehicle technology, and the most obvious application is its increasingly robust delivery network. In January, Amazon won a patent for a central control system to help autonomous vehicles deal with route changes on the road.