New RFID system helps robots locate moving objects in milliseconds
A significant and potentially dangerous innovation has emerged at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT researchers have developed a system, called TurboTrack, which uses radio frequency identification (RFID) tags to locate moving objects in milliseconds. This system could be used to improve the efficiency of robots used in manufacturing processes as well as in drone search-and-rescue missions, as the system is able to locate tagged objects in an average of 7.5 milliseconds, with errors of less than 1cm.
The system uses a reader to send wireless signals to RFID tags, which are then rebounded back to the reader. TurboTrack uses a “space-time super resolution” which filters through the reflected signals to locate the tag’s response. The RFID system is supposedly better suited than computer vision technologies for robotic tasks within cluttered environments or areas with limited vision. The reason for this is that radio frequency signals are able to identify targets without visualization, as well through walls and clutter. Additionally, RFID technology is very cheap to produce and battery-free; it only costs 3 cents to make a TurboTrack tag.
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Walmart launches own intermodal containers, uses drivers for drayage
Amazon is not the only retailer trying to take more control over its freight and logistics operations. In recent news, Walmart has launched its own fleet of intermodal containers and has started to use its own drivers to transport containers from rail hubs to Walmart stores. The pilot began in the summer of last year and has so far covered container loads coming out of Southern California, though it has not yet been confirmed how many containers or how far Walmart intends to extend the program.
For drayage, the retailer has deployed its daycab trucks, a minority in its fleet of 8,000 vehicles. Removing 3PLs from this part of the chain has saved hours or even days of transit time for each container. Under this program, it could take the company two or three days less time to transport a load from Southern California to South Florida. This could be particularly beneficial during peak seasons when inventory churn is at its highest. As for the new containers, designed in-house by Walmart, they include chassis, doublestacking capabilities and roll-up doors, which enable greater unloading flexibility at Walmart’s stores. “We wanted to have that flexibility, which no other container provides, “commented Ken Braunbach, Walmart’s Vice President of Inbound Logistics.
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EU sets strict emissions standards for trucks
This week, member states of the European Union and EU parliament reached a provisional agreement to establish stricter carbon-dioxide emission regulations for heavy-duty commercial vehicles. Regulations will require a 15% reduction in CO2 emissions for new trucks between 2025 and 2029, compared to 2019 truck emission levels. Starting in 2030, trucks will be required to emit on average 30% less than in 2019.
These targets will be binding and manufacturers that don’t comply “will have to pay a financial penalty in the form of an excess emissions premium.” However, the EU has also promised to strengthen its incentives for OEMs to build low- and zero-emission vehicles. Additionally, “specific measures” will be put in place to ensure “robust and reliable data” on emissions. Soon after the agreement was announced, the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association expressed its concerns over these “highly ambitious” targets. The ACEA’s main concern is over the current lack of infrastructure needed to fuel or charge the alternatively powered vehicles needed to meet such limits.
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Have a nice weekend.