UPS launches new “eFulfillment” platform for small and medium sellers
UPS recently launched a new eFulfillment platform, connecting small- and medium-sized businesses on 21 different online marketplaces –such as Amazon, Ebay and Etsy- to UPS fulfillment services. The company claims that the platform will help smaller businesses to achieve “the same high quality services as large e-commerce companies without the same amount of complexity.” A company press release stated that the solution enables companies to handle orders and inventory across various marketplaces with ease from a single location.
The UPS eFulfillment solution gives companies the option to customize delivery times for products. It currently offers same-day fulfillment for one-day, two-day and three-day services and will fulfill orders up to 5pm. A company can store its inventory at one of UPS’ “strategically located” warehouses and UPS will take care of order picking, packing and shipping, all the way to the end-consumer. The UPS warehouses are based in Kentucky and California, and although the fulfillment solution is currently only for products geared towards customers in the US and Canada, it can still be used by international businesses looking to sell in these locations.
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China’s first commercial use of autonomous vehicles
Leading Chinese delivery and logistics companies China Post and Deppon Express are planning to deploy autonomous trucks to deliver packages across China, starting in April. According to a press release, this is the first case in China where autonomous vehicles are being used in daily commercial operations. The level 4 autonomous technology which the trucks operate on was developed by Fabu Technology, an artificial intelligence (AI) company focused on intelligent driving systems.
Fabu and China Post have been testing the autonomous truck technology since November of last year. Several tests were conducted in the highly populated Zhejiang province. During this testing period, the level 4 trucks successfully drove over 2,200 miles and delivered over 60,000 packages during China’s peak shopping period- which includes Singles’ Day, Christmas and Chinese New Year. The vehicles averaged around 40 mile daily round trips, along three different routes. The trucks drove both during the day and at night, on highways, through tunnels, and along busy residential streets packed with pedestrians, schools and flea markets. For additional safety, the trucks have been tested under various harsh weather conditions.
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Billionaires invest in new AI start-up on the hunt for new cobalt
Although many battery makers are now looking to reduce the amount of cobalt used in their batteries or eliminate its use entirely, it is estimated that demand for the highly controversial metal will exceed supply, starting in 2023 and this shortage is expected to increase till at least 2025. Just last month Ford Motor Company and IBM launched a blockchain-based cobalt project in partnership with a number of battery supply chain participants, to ensure greater supply chain transparency. However, there are more ways than one to ensure an ethical supply of cobalt and to bring greater stability to the supply chain.
Venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) and Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures recently invested in KoBold Metals, a start-up that aims to use machine learning (ML) algorithms and AI on large sets of geological and chemical data to find new –and therefore more ethical- sources of cobalt, outside of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Unlike most ML algorithms and big data techniques being used to optimize mining industries, KoBold’s software focuses on underground exploration rather than operational efficiencies. The software has been described as “Google Maps for the earth’s crust and below.”
You can read more about this here.
Have a nice weekend.