Meet the Japanese tech guru who is betting big on the future of drones

The Japan Times

The only person in kimono at a recent government meeting on flying cars was Kotaro Chiba, a former online-game executive turned financier of a very specific kind. For Chiba, 44, who wears kimono on special occasions to show his pride in Japanese culture, is gathering money for what he calls the Drone Fund. It invests in unmanned vehicles to survey buildings, make deliveries and take aerial photos for tourist boards; hover scooters; and a pilotless cargo craft that's seeking to make it all the way from Japan to Silicon Valley in one go. Chiba is at the forefront of an industry that's only years away from changing our lives. In five to 10 years, the skies could be alive with drones delivering goods, according to McKinsey & Co.


Delivery by robot soon to be reality in China as startup Neolix begins mass production of 'robovans'

The Japan Times

The future of deliveries may be "robovans." A Chinese startup called Neolix kicked off mass production of its self-driving delivery vehicles Friday -- saying it's the first company globally to do so -- and has lined up giants such as JD.com Inc. and Huawei Technologies Co. as customers. Neolix expects to deliver a thousand of the vehicles, which resemble tiny vans, within the first year as it broadens out. The implications are potentially huge: Billionaire Jack Ma predicts there will be 1 billion deliveries a day in China within a decade and the commercialization of the technology could provide lessons for autonomous vehicles carrying passengers. Neolix isn't alone in this space as Silicon Valley's Nuro raised almost $1 billion this year and is starting to deliver groceries in Arizona.


Why your next UPS driver might be an ugly robot on wheels

#artificialintelligence

If you're the kind of person who really likes chatting with the mail carrier, Dispatch won't be your favorite startup. That's because the four-person South San Francisco company is working on technology that could replace postal workers; UPS and FedEx drivers; Instacart couriers; and anyone else who gets paid to bring you stuff. Instead, you might be dealing with a 3-foot-tall, 150-pound, battery-powered roving robot that looks like a little dumpster on wheels. Called Carry, the device uses artificial intelligence, five cameras and a laser to navigate on sidewalks around pedestrians, flaming hoverboards and any other obstacles to get packages to your door. The only places you'll find Carry today are on two California college campuses, where it's still being tested.


Why your next UPS driver might be an ugly robot on wheels

#artificialintelligence

If you're the kind of person who really likes chatting with the mail carrier, Dispatch won't be your favorite startup. That's because the four-person South San Francisco company is working on technology that could replace postal workers, Instacart couriers, UPS and FedEx drivers, or anyone else who gets paid to bring you stuff. Instead, you might be dealing with a 3-foot-tall, 150-pound, battery-powered roving robot that looks like a little dumpster on wheels. Called Carry, the device uses artificial intelligence, five cameras and a laser to navigate on sidewalks around pedestrians, flaming hoverboards and any other obstacles to get packages to your door. The only places you'll find Carry today are on two California college campuses, where it's still being tested.