This week, two companies announced they are moving forward with aerial drone delivery services. On Thursday, the Alphabet-owned drone company Wing launched its first commercial delivery flights in Dallas, Texas. Its drones will remain positioned at strategic Walgreens stores in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, ready to buzz off to nearby homes with health products in their grip. The drones will eventually also deliver pet medicines and Blue Bell Creameries' ice cream. FedEx also announced that it has partnered with the California company Elroy Air to develop its own delivery drone service.
FedEx is trying out a new delivery tool. Starting next year, the delivery company is testing out an autonomous cargo drone from Bay Area aircraft startup Elroy Air. The hybrid-electric vertical take-off and landing plane (that means it doesn't need a runaway and is more like a helicopter) will take packages between FedEx Express sorting facilities in the Fort Worth, Texas, area. For now, the autonomous drone will stick with middle-mile logistics between FedEx buildings instead of dropping packages off at people's doors or picking up from merchants. Elroy was originally focused on autonomous air taxis for passengers but now is dedicated to autonomous cargo delivery.
FedEx plans to test a different method of moving goods between depots starting next year, which could speed up the delivery process. The company has teamed up with Elroy Air, which is developing a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) cargo drone, to transport packages between sorting centers via autonomous flights. Elroy Air unveiled the Chaparral C1 drone in January. The company claims the hybrid-electric system has a range of up to 300 miles and can carry a load of up to 500 pounds in its cargo pod (so FedEx would need a lot of them if it wants to eventually replace planes). The drone has 12 electric motors and 12 propellers.
A giant 18-wheel transport truck is barreling down a multi-lane Texas highway, and there is no one behind the wheel. The futuristic idea may seem surreal, but it is being tested in this vast southern US state, which has become the epicenter of a rapidly developing self-driving vehicle industry. Before driverless trucks are allowed onto roads and highways, however, multiple tests must still be conducted to ensure they are safe. Self-driving lorries are operated using radars, laser scanners, cameras and GPS antennas that communicate with piloting software. "Each time we drive a mile or a kilometer in real life, we re-simulate a thousand more times on the computer by changing hundreds of parameters," explains Pierre-François Le Faou, trucking partner development manager at Waymo, the self-driving unit at Google's parent company Alphabet.
Walmart has revealed it is using fully driverless trucks to bring groceries from a fulfillment center to one of its Arkansas supermarkets, in a move that will cut costs and address the ongoing labor shortage affecting retail supply chains. Twelve hours a day, apair of trucks are running on a seven-mile loop of public roads from a fulfillment center to the Walmart on Regional Airport Boulevard in Bentonville, Arkansas, where the mega-retailer is headquartered. From there customers can conveniently pick up their orders. Walmart started driverless deliveries in August using autonomous trucks from Palo Alto, California-based start-up Gatik, but waited to make the announcement until Monday, after two months of incident-free deliveries. The trucking industry has faced a record worker shortage since the pandemic started, Chris Spear, president of the American Trucking Associations, told CNN, with 80,000 drivers still needed.
That truck driving down the interstate might not have a flesh-and-blood driver. On Wednesday FedEx announced its first autonomously-driven Class 8 truck delivery route ("Class 8 truck" is an industry term for what many Americans call a "semi-trailer truck"). Working with truck maker PACCAR and self-driving company Aurora, which is backed by Amazon, FedEx will start making deliveries in Texas using an autonomous semi. The route on Interstate 45 between Houston and Dallas is about 500 miles round trip, and expected to be busy as the holiday shopping season approaches. The test route will run multiple times each week starting Wednesday.
Waymo Via, Waymo's autonomous truck unit, announced on Wednesday the construction of a hub for its fleet of autonomous trucks in Dallas, and a partnership with trucking company Ryder. The double announcement came as Waymo prepares to grow its delivery operations across Texas, California and Arizona. After raising $2.5 billion from outside investors in June, the Alphabet-owned company said today that its new primary operations center will be in a nine-acre site in South Dallas, and the company will move into it in the first half of 2022. Th self-driving truck company has started testing on the fifth generation of its Driver on the Class 8 trucks fleet as it continues freight hauling for JB Hunt. The hub will accommodate hundreds of trucks and personnel.
The delivery of Medical Countermeasures(MCMs) for mass prophylaxis in the case of a bio-terrorist attack is an active research topic that has interested the research community over the past decades. The objective of this study is to design an efficient algorithm for the Receive Reload and Store Problem(RSS) in which we aim to find feasible routes to deliver MCMs to a target population considering time, physical, and human resources, and capacity limitations. For doing this, we adapt the p-median problem to the POD-based emergency response planning procedures and propose an efficient algorithm solution to perform the p-median in reasonable computational time. We present RE-PLAN, the Response PLan Analyzer system that contains some RSS solutions developed at The Center for Computational Epidemiology and Response Analysis (CeCERA) at the University of North Texas. Finally, we analyze a study case where we show how the computational performance of the algorithm can impact the process of decision making and emergency planning in the short and long terms.
Waymo launched testing of autonomous trucks in Texas and announced plans to make Dallas the center of its heavy-duty vehicle technology efforts. Alphabet Inc.'s autonomous vehicle unit said in an Aug. 26 news release that it has begun testing Peterbilt trucks equipped with self-driving technology along Interstate 10, I-20 and I-45 in Texas. The company already has a passenger vehicle operations center in Phoenix that will be linked into its commercial vehicle testing network. It is focusing on trucking lanes that include Phoenix to Dallas, Dallas to Houston and Dallas to El Paso, Waymo told Transport Topics in a statement. Our #WaymoVia Class 8 trucks are arriving in Dallas this week. More than 1.2 billion tons of freight are moved on Texas highways, so we're excited to bring the #WaymoDriver there to continue our testing efforts across the Lone Star State.
Huawei is also now the world's largest supplier of smartphones, surpassing Samsung Electronics Co. Qualcomm also announced a super-fast charging platform this week for Android devices that is supposed to charge a battery to 50% full in 5 minutes, and 100% full in 15 minutes. Xilinx wants to help drive open, interoperable, and adaptable Radio Access Network (RAN) 5G technologies. The company this week joined the Open RAN Policy Coalition, an organization that advocates for open and interoperable solutions in RAN. Xilinx is already a member of O-RAN alliance and is a contributor to the 3GPP specifications for 5G mobile networks. Xilinx offers silicon that supports multiple standards, bands, carriers and sub-networks for Open RAN, the company said in its press release.