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has quietly launched an app designed to help truck delivery drivers get in and out of warehouses faster.
The app, called Relay, rolled out late last month and is available on Apple and Android devices. Drivers enter cargo information into the app, allowing them to check in with a QR code and get through the security gate, avoiding the manual process of badging in. At some facilities, Amazon has built special Relay lanes, according to the app page.
Relay is Amazon's first attempt at automating the truck delivery process, which is error-prone due to its reliance on phone calls and paperwork. About 80 percent of cargo in the U.S. is transported via truck, which makes the market a big target for tech companies like Uber and start-ups such as Convoy and Trucker Path. According to Convoy, the trucking market is worth $800 billion.
While Relay may have a narrow application today, it serves as the first connection point between Amazon and potentially millions of truck drivers, a job that's become one of the most common in the U.S. Amazon is reportedly looking into other services as well, including an app that would match truck drivers with cargo shippers.
Amazon has made no secret about its quest to become a logistics and transportation juggernaut. Over the past couple years, it has purchased thousands of trailer trucks, dozens of cargo planes and minority stakes in two cargo airlines for its Prime Air service. It's also launched new delivery services like Amazon Flex to do package shipping on its own.
Amazon often launches new services without a public notice to test them before expanding more aggressively. For example, the company has dozens of pop-up stores and private label brands, as well as a thriving merchant lending business — all of which launched without big, splashy announcements.
Amazon may be keeping quiet about Relay to fix some technical glitches. Its Android app has fewer than 5,000 downloads and a mere 3.5-star rating, with one reviewer saying it has "a lot of glitches."