This euphoria is largely based on assumptions that drones inevitably deliver better customer service at lower costs with a better environmental footprint than conventional delivery by a driver in a parcel van. These claims are little more than flights of fancy that cloud a more realistic assessment of the potential for the use of drones in logistics.
For the technology to work in commercial practice, however, the economics must also work.
Source: Commentary: Drone-Delivery Projects Must Look Beyond the Hype – WSJ
The primary value in drone delivery may be
1. Delivering value dense items that need to be delivered quickly. Medicine is the classic example.
2. Very short hop delivery. The USPS is experimenting with drones that launch from your local postal delivery vehicles to carry small packages up to home door steps, rather than having the postal worker have to take time to walk that distant (and deal with loose dogs!)
3. Delivering items to remote customers, not urban customers. When a delivery truck comes through my neighborhood, they commonly stop and deliver packages to multiple homes. This is pretty efficient. But delivering to remote (e.g. farms, ranches) and rural properties is not as efficient.
The dreams promoted by Google, Amazon and UPS of zillions of drones flying miles out from warehouses to drop off low value packages at consumer homes are not realistic at this time.
Albertsons and Stop & Shop are testing automated “micro-fulfillment centers” in the backs of their own stores that are dedicated to fulfilling deliveries and pickups. At two stores, Albertsons is using robots to prepare customers’ orders, which it says speeds up the picking process.
.And in Salem, New Hampshire, Walmart is piloting a system with autonomous carts that gather customers’ grocery orders and bring them to Walmart workers, who then prepare them for delivery or pickup.
Source: Why supermarkets are building ‘dark stores’ – CNN
As remarked many times on this blog, automated machinery, which has been growing since the late 19th century, will take over more and more minimum wage jobs – and this will accelerate as minimum wage hikes and mandated benefits increase the costs of hiring for minimal skilled positions.
Since EV’s need fewer workers to assemble, EVs may then be more attractive to manufacturers as they lower costs and potentially increase profits:
Not only is the industry grappling with falling consumer demand for cars, its shift to EVs will also cost even more jobs. EVs are simply easier to build and require fewer parts without an engine. The UAW expects the move away from gas engines could cut 35,000 jobs over the next several years, according to a research study conducted by the union last year.
More automation going into McDonald’s outlets:
After closing the Dynamic Yield acquisition, McDonald’s quickly deployed its machine learning tech in more than 8,000 U.S. drive-thrus. The technology changes drive-thru menus based on the time of day, weather, traffic and the customer’s order — all to coax the customer to spend more
As labor costs rise, sometimes due to changes in minimum wage laws, retailers are increasingly deploying automation to reduce costs. This was going to happen regardless of minimum wage law increases but increases in required minimum wages are accelerating the trend to automation.
Not only does automation, and semi-automation like mobile apps and self order kiosks reduce costs, they say it also results in consumers spending more per order.
In the above example, McDonald’s is deploying systems to persuade or trick customers into buying more items or more expensive items than they may have been planning to purchase.
Automated, robotic espresso making kiosks are coming to San Francisco International Airport.
As noted previously, automation is coming and higher minimum wage and mandated benefits laws are likely to accelerate the trend to automation. According to the news report, airport employees are worried that more automation is coming and will replace other jobs.
In some ways, these are more advanced vending machines, albeit, producing a higher quality product than pre-packaged items in vending machines.
Robotic coffee baristas coming to SFO
I imagine at some point they will propose requiring pedestrians and cyclists to carry a remote ID transponder, sending precise location, speed and direction of travel information to automated cars and trucks. May be even make it two-way to alert pedestrians to incoming automated vehicles.
Driverless car proponents say there’s one surefire shortcut to getting self-driving cars on the streets sooner: persuade pedestrians to behave less erratically.
Source: No jaywalking! Some self-driving car advocates want to reprogram pedestrians | The Seattle Times
Won’t be long before pedestrians will need to be licensed!
Update – we are close to making this work. The ubiquitous smart phone will become the transponder device. As we travel by foot, our phone will periodically send a data burst on Wi-Fi or perhaps Bluetooth (but range is limited). Children and those not having a smart phone will be required to be accompanied by someone that has a phone or perhaps they will need to have self contained beacon transponder clipped to their clothing.
Don’t laugh. This is exactly how bureaucrats think especially when lobbied by industrial organizations.
Younger Americans are more open to the idea of creating a federal agency to oversee robotics than older Americans.
Source: What Americans think about a new federal agency to oversee robots
32% would like to see the creation of a Federal Robotics Commission.
After a fatal crash with a pedestrian, Uber has suspended road testing of its self driving cars in Arizona, Ontario, Pennsylvania and California. In the latter case, Uber is not even renewing its state permit to conduct on the road tests. Some think this suggests safe, general purpose, self driving cars may not be coming as soon as many were expecting.
Source: Uber suspending testing of self-driving cars in California – Axios
One of many companies working to automate the restaurant business and reduce labor and benefits costs:
Pasadena-based hardware startup Miso Robotics just got a big vote of confidence from investors, in the form of a $10 million Series B. This latest windfall led by Acacia Research Corporation brings…
Source: Miso scores $10 million to bring its hamburger-flipping robot to more restaurants | TechCrunch