Cruise launches Autonomous Car Service in San Francisco

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Think autonomous car services are still far off, well think again. Cruise (a San Fran based startup) has begun testing Cruise Anywhere with its employee based in San Francisco. Employees are able to hail a self-driving vehicles and go anywhere they wish in San Francisco using a mobile app (just like ???).

Right Now, Cruise is using a small fleet of vehicles (modified Chevy Volts with lots of sensors and software, but says it has plans to expand fleet by a 100 vehicles in coming months.

Why Gasoline Is The Best Drone Fuel

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Drone technology is rapidly evolving to service various scenarios on land, in the air and underwater (even underground.)

Number one commercial issue remains power sources and ability to sustain activities for longer periods of time without requiring a recharge.

MIT engineers recently attempted to extend the duration of an airborne drone using an expected method…gasoline. They created the Jungle Hawk Owl, a 24 foot wide drone that can be launched from the roof of a car and can stay airborne for 5 days on a single tank of gas.

Original ask by the Airforce was a solar powered device, but it appears solar lost quickly due to need to size of surface area, weight of batteries and challenges as you moved to latitudes far from the equator.

Uber Freight Launches Commercially

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Uber has officially entered the trucking arena as long speculated by analysts.

Called Uber Freight, this new service focuses on driving logistics between trucking companies and independent operators to identify and disperse drivers against loads that need to be hauled from point to point.

They are leveraging the same technology platform as consumer Uber and the app is said to look very similar, albeit with a few more questions about load type and size. Uber claims it is simplifying a highly manual process (phone calls back and forth coordinating drivers and schedules) and bringing transparency to pricing for drivers. Drivers love the service as it accelerates cash flow by providing much faster settlement windows for pay.

Question will be if this is a bridge to autonomous trucking which Uber is also investing heavily in….given them an early look at truck logistics and volume of shippments across geographies.

 

Apple Sucking Autonomous Vehicles?

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Google Ventures (now know as GV) continues its march to leverage and be involved in all things digital. This time they are leading the investment round in Abundant Robotics, a company building apple picking robots that could eventually handle harvesting a multitude of crops. The breakthrough is how they have tackled some of the challenges of picking the apples using vacuums…helps to avoid becoming a manufacturer of apple sauce with traditional hand grabbing mechanisms.

This space has exploded recently and Abundant Robotics joins a growing group of hardware manufacturers developing autonomous equipment for use on farms, both on the ground and in the sky. Others players include Harvest Automation, Deepfield Robotics and the Autonomous Tractor Company

Agriculture in the U.S. and much of the world is facing a tremendous labor shortage today. Meanwhile, the World Bank estimates we’ll need to make 50 percent more food by 2050 to sustain the growing, global population, with climate change decreasing crop yields by 25 percent outdoors.

Meet Harry…The Self Driving Shuttle To Solve London’s Rural Commuting Challenges

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London introduces “Harry”, it’s prototype driver-less pod capable of carrying up to four passengers to and from designated routes at breakneck speeds of 10 MPH. This is an initiative born from the UK’s Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) which is designed to behave like the modern day, street legal mono rails.

Essentially shuttling passengers between commuting points and or high traffic areas via a special lane. London is hoping to break the traffic congestion problem by building a network of these autonomous commuting capabilities in both the city and in areas that are not regularly services by bus, train or trams.

Pilot begins in the next week.

Domino’s Tests Autonomous Delivery Bots

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Domino’s pizza is quickly moving from supply chain and experience digitalization to distribution transformation.

This summer, Domino’s in partnership with Starship Technologies , will begin testing autonomous deliver of large pizzas.

Initially scheduled for Hamburg Germany, expansion plans are already in the works for the Netherlands and beyond. Pretty simple extension to experience today…order your pizza via app, messenger, twitter, etc…provide delivery address, pizza gets baked, placed in a small robotic delivery food cart and wait for the notification. Open your door and retrieve your piping hot pizza for the robotics delivery vehicle.

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This area of robotic driven logistic’s is literally exploding, and while drones maybe far off from receiving formal licensing approvals, 4 mph ground based robotic delivery vehicles have a chance to drive a complete disruption (some for the better)  for local retailers and restaurants.

You can quickly imagine a central platform (think Amazon) that you order through, order is sent to fulfillment center or hopefully a local retailer, order is fulfilled and loaded into autonomous deliver vehicle and it shows up outside your door.

This will be areality this summer (actually already is)

Solar Skin Creates Opportunities For Autonomy.

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Here’s a pretty advanced one. Smart skin…designed for amputees to help return certain senses relative to feeling pressure, temperature and dampness. University of Glasgow has developed exactly that and is using solar power to fuel the system, providing greater independence and portability  by removing the need for a connected power source.  “Graphene” is the secret…a flexible material that can now cover covered with a flexible with durability greater than that of steel, and is electrically conductive and transparent.

The material draws and converts power from the sun’s rays sufficient enough to power to support movement of prosthetic hands. While the power is used in real time, they will eventually determine a way to store it efficiently when sunlight is available.

Thinking bigger picture here….you could create autonomous everything….from prosthetic limbs to life like pets to robotic workers in the fields based on advancements in bendable electronics and sensing technologies.