Who let the delivery dogs out? Continental
Continental unveiled its most recent innovation this week at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2019) in Las Vegas: Robotic delivery dogs. The company’s vision is that these robotic delivery dogs will be transported around by its autonomous vehicles and then deployed to cover the last few yards of delivery, delivering the goods “right to your door.” Its aim is to ultimately remove humans from the first and last mile delivery process.
Continental believes that this solution would make deliveries more efficient and safer, while increasing the availability of goods in the parcel delivery supply chain. However, there are still a few technological challenges to overcome before the dogs can be operated, regarding maneuverability and software complexities. According to Continental, the robotic dogs will require technology that is equally as advanced as the technology currently used for its automated automotive solutions.
Kroger and Microsoft pilot data-driven grocery stores
The biggest supermarket chain in the U.S. has recently partnered with Microsoft on a futuristic grocery store pilot, to bring the ease of online shopping to brick-and-mortar stores. Kroger has remodeled two of its stores located in Monroe, Ohio and Redmond, Washington to test out new features, such as digital shelves which display advertisements and price updates, as well as a network of sensors which keep a track of items and help guide shoppers through the aisles. If all goes to plan, Kroger might eventually extend its use of the cloud-based system it developed with Microsoft to all of its 2,780 supermarkets.
Customers using Kroger’s self-checkout app will be guided through the store based on the items on their digital shopping list. The products are highlighted when a customer reaches the product’s aisle and a personalized icon- such as a banana or pumpkin- appears on the digital shelf screen. These digital shelves can also assist store employees with order picking for Kroger’s curbside grocery pickup service. Microsoft’s AI software can also predict the age and gender of a shopper and the data can be used to tailor advertisements to specific customer segments. Both companies are hoping to keep up with Amazon in the grocery and cloud software markets respectively. Since Amazon acquired Whole Foods, Kroger’s shares have plummeted drastically. The retailer hopes to sell this technology on to other retailers, opening up more profitable revenue opportunities.
You can find out much more about this pilot here.
Daimler will invest $570 million in developing SAE level 4 automated trucks
Continental was not the only one to make a big announcement at the CES this week. Daimler announced its plans to invest $570 million, to bring highly automated (level 4) trucks to the road within the next ten years. A SAE level 4 automated truck is one that can travel within defined areas without cause for human intervention, as it is able to respond to problems and system failures by itself in the majority of circumstances. A level 5 truck doesn’t require a human driver at all, meaning that in ten years’ time Daimler could be just one step away from achieving full automation.
Daimler also introduced the new Freightliner Cascadia, a partially automated (level 2) truck which will be the first of its kind to enter the North American market. The truck is capable of steering, accelerating and decelerating all by itself. The technology also enables a greater fuel-efficiency. The company said it would skip the immediate step of conditionally automated driving (level 3) and go straight into developing the level 4 technology. In another update, Daimler Trucks CEO Martin Daum announced that Daimler would be moving its focus away from platooning, as results have shown that although it works well in the lab, in practice fuel savings are less than expected.
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