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Archives for January 2017

How much booze do Californians drink, anyway? Second firm offers same-hour alcohol delivery

By Ben Ames | January 26, 2017 | 9:21 AM

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Last-mile delivery service Postmates Inc. is adding same-hour alcohol delivery to its suite of on-demand restaurant and shopping parcel courier service. The offer is available only in San Francisco and Los Angeles for now, but the company plans to expand the service to other markets soon.

The San Francisco-based urban logistics startup promises 24-hour, on-demand delivery from restaurants and stores in the cities it covers, across a network of cities in 25 states.

Postmates partners with retailers by offering an application programming interface (API) software tool that merchants can add to their websites and instantly start offering home delivery. The company then deploys its corps of couriers to ride, drive, or walk to each nearby urban address and deliver the package.

In fact, Postmates does not restrict itself solely to human parcel carriers. Last week, the company said it was joining the British robotics startup Starship Technologies to test fleets of self-driving parcel-delivery robots that roll from stores to consumers’ homes along sidewalks.

By adding alcohol to the range of products it handles, Postmates is joining an express delivery market already serving thirsty customers in California. The announcement follows a similar service unveiled last month by Saucey, an e-commerce delivery company that specializes in carrying alcohol. In its announcement, Saucey teamed up with retailer BevMo to offer same-hour booze delivery in the California cities of San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Sacramento.

Despite the competition, Postmates intends to distinguish its service by delivering a wider range of products than just six-packs and wine bottles, and made a point of saying that the new alcohol service is open to all local retailers, not just a single retail partner.

“This is the first of many new on-demand shopping experiences to come,” Postmates wrote in a company blog. “As we continue to build infrastructure that bridges online and offline local commerce, we are excited to deliver you a new Postmates experience — the best beverages in your city in 25 minutes or less.”

 

Feds name 10 pilot sites for autonomous vehicle proving grounds

By Ben Ames | January 24, 2017 | 1:44 PM

Research into self-driving vehicles has been advancing at high speed in recent months, with American roads already bustling with robo-cars like Alphabet Inc.’s Google autonomous car, Tesla’s Model S in “autopilot” mode, and Uber Technologies Inc.’s self-steering Ford Fusion.

The technology is impressive when it works, but one question that still stumps government regulators is how to safely test the machines. Leaders are caught between the need to capture a valuable business opportunity by hosting the nascent industry and the duty to protect local drivers from potential collisions with these unmanned, two-ton, rolling science experiments.

For example, while Austin, Texas, and Pittsburgh, Penn., have hosted autonomous cars on their streets, California recently put the brakes on a test program by Uber, and the Cambridge, Mass.-based self-driving car developer nuTonomy Inc. tests its software on cars in distant Singapore. Europe also gained momentum in testing autonomous trucks, when convoys of paired, semi-automated "smart" trucks arrived last year at Rotterdam harbor in the Netherlands from starting points as far away as Sweden and Germany.

On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Transportation used one of its final acts under the outgoing Obama administration to establish some clarity in this confusing area by designated 10 “proving ground pilot sites” to encourage testing and information sharing around automated vehicle technologies.

The sites are:

* City of Pittsburgh and the Thomas D. Larson Pennsylvania Transportation Institute

* Texas AV Proving Grounds Partnership

* U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center, in Maryland

* American Center for Mobility (ACM) at Willow Run, in Michigan

* Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) & GoMentum Station in California

* San Diego Association of Governments in California

* Iowa City Area Development Group

* University of Wisconsin-Madison

* Central Florida Automated Vehicle Partners

* North Carolina Turnpike Authority

The proving grounds all have different facilities that can be used to gauge safety, manage various roadways and conditions, and handle various types of vehicles. Final locations were chosen from a competitive group of over 60 applicants, including academic institutions, state Departments of Transportation, cities, and private entities and partnerships.

With private industry investing heavily in the race to build self-driving cars and trucks, these sites could soon become crucial centers of development for the future of autonomous vehicles.

 

The opinions expressed herein are those solely of the participants, and do not necessarily represent the views of Agile Business Media, LLC., its properties or its employees.

Thoughts from our editors.



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