Jeff Bezos bullish on India, will invest $1 billion to digitize small businesses

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Amazon hopes to export goods worth $10 billion from India by 2025

 Jeff Bezos said Amazon will invest another $1 billion in India to help 10 million Indian small and medium businesses (SMBs) sell online amid nationwide protests by neighbourhood shopkeepers against his visit and the competition watchdog ordering a probe into ecommerce platforms.

Amazon, which has invested more than $5 billion in India since 2013, said its latest programme will help SMBs participate in India’s rapidly growing ecommerce and that it hopes to export locally made goods worth $10 billion from the country by 2025.

“Our goal is, don’t forget, to make sure that more people can participate in the prosperity of India,” Bezos told the audience at an Amazon event in New Delhi.

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Vast majority of UK adults ‘uncomfortable’ with delivery drivers entering their empty homes

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Waitrose’s While You’re Away service allows delivery drivers to enter customer’s homes to unpack their shopping

The vast majority of UK adults are uncomfortable with the idea of delivery drivers entering their homes to drop off shopping while they’re out, new research has revealed.

Waitrose first trialled its While You’re Away delivery service in October 2018, which saw its shopping delivery drivers enter customers’ houses and put away their shopping in fridges and cupboards, thanks to a temporary access code linked to a home’s Yale smart lock.

The supermarket has insisted there is something “very beautiful” about its customers forgetting they even made an order and then coming home to see their goods already in cupboards.

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What will make cargo bike package delivery succeed in New York?

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Lessons from other cities that have started replacing trucks with bikes.

What will make cargo bike package delivery succeed in New York?

At a UPS operating center in midtown Manhattan, two cargo delivery bikes will soon begin rolling out of a driveway in the morning a few hours before the usual delivery trucks begin their routes. The company is part of a new six-month pilot program in New York City that will test how well cargo bikes, with electric “pedal assist” for couriers, can potentially help relieve traffic by replacing some delivery trucks. A similar system is already in use in several other cities around the world: New York can learn from what’s working elsewhere to consider how the pilot could scale up.

In European cities, UPS typically brings a shipping container from a depot to a spot in the city center early in the morning, and couriers on bikes take loads of deliveries to nearby neighborhoods. Since the cargo bikes can’t carry as much as a truck, the cyclists have to make multiple trips; the system only makes economic sense in congested areas where trucks struggle to park, but bikes can reach customers more quickly. (We’re using the term bike liberally here, many of these vehicles have more than two wheels.)

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Amazon’s AI creates synthesized singers

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AI and machine learning algorithms are quite skilled at generating works of art — and highly realistic images of apartments, people, and pets to boot. But relatively few have been tuned to singing synthesis, or the task of cloning musicians’ voices.

Researchers from Amazon and Cambridge put their collective minds to the challenge in a recent paper in which they propose an AI system that requires “considerably” less modeling than previous work of features like vibratos and note durations. It taps a Google-designed algorithm — WaveNet — to synthesize the mel-spectrograms, or representations of the power spectrum of sounds, which another model produces using a combination of speech and signing data.

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New Amazon capabilities put machine learning in reach of more developers

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Today, Amazon announced a new approach that it says will put machine learning technology in reach of more developers and line of business users. Amazon has been making a flurry of announcements ahead of its re:Invent customer conference next week in Las Vegas.

While the company offers plenty of tools for data scientists to build machine learning models and to process, store and visualize data, it wants to put that capability directly in the hands of developers with the help of the popular database query language, SQL.

By taking advantage of tools like Amazon QuickSight, Aurora and Athena in combination with SQL queries, developers can have much more direct access to machine learning models and underlying data without any additional coding, says VP of artificial intelligence at AWS, Matt Wood.

“This announcement is all about making it easier for developers to add machine learning predictions to their products and their processes by integrating those predictions directly with their databases,” Wood told TechCrunch.

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Researchers used a laser to hack Alexa and other voice assistants

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San Francisco (CNN Business)Usually you have to talk to voice assistants to get them to do what you want. But a group of researchers determined they can also command them by shining a laser at smart speakers and other gadgets that house virtual helpers such as Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri and Google’s Assistant.

Researchers at the University of Michigan and Japan’s University of Electro-Communications figured out they could do this silently and from hundreds of feet away, as long as they had a line of sight to the smart gadget. The finding could enable anyone (with motivation and a few hundred dollars’ worth of electronics) to attack a smart speaker from outside your house, making it do anything from playing music to opening a smart garage door to buying you stuff on Amazon.

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Amazon is making two-hour grocery delivery free for all Prime members

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Amazon just added a new perk to its popular Prime membership program: free grocery delivery.

 Amazon Prime members will now be able to get two-hour grocery delivery for free.

Until now, Prime members had to pay an additional $14.99 per month to get access to Amazon Fresh, the company’s grocery delivery service.

The change reflects Amazon’s growing delivery efficiency, as it looks to shorten delivery time — which in turn leads to more frequent purchases and bigger spending.

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Amazon reportedly has an ambitious plan to change the way we grocery shop — here’s what we know about it so far

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Amazon is looking into creating a new grocery chain that would likely be separate from Whole Foods, according to The New York Times.

This new chain would blend aspects of online ordering and traditional shopping, and may be inspired by a 2017 internal memo circulated ahead of the Whole Foods acquisition.

The report also describes certain areas in which Amazon has struggled to integrate with Whole Foods, such as when it comes to cutting prices and incorporating the upscale grocer into its delivery system.

Amazon is brainstorming a new type of grocery store that would combine traditional shopping with online pickup, according to The New York Times. Such a move would mark another push by Amazon to establish dominance in the grocery shopping space following its $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods in 2017.

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Amazon taps truck startup Rivian to build 100,000 electric vans

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Rivian, the startup electric truck manufacturer, will build 100,000 custom electric delivery vehicles exclusively for Amazon beginning in 2021, the companies said. — Amazon/dpa

Rivian, the startup electric truck manufacturer, will build 100,000 custom electric delivery vehicles exclusively for Amazon beginning in 2021, the companies have announced.

The huge order by Amazon represents a previously unrevealed commercial vehicle to be designed and built at Rivian’s factory in downstate Normal, alongside the manufacturer’s consumer-focused electric truck and SUV lines. Online retail giant Amazon is also a significant investor in Rivian.

“This has been in the works for some time,” Rivian spokeswoman Amy Mast said Thursday. “The idea that you can marry consumer applications to these more commercial applications … is just really exciting.”

Target production is to have 10,000 electric delivery vans on the road for Amazon by late 2022, ramping up to the full 100,000 order by 2030. The first of the new vans are expected to begin delivering packages in 2021, the companies said.

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Amazon delivery robots are officially on the streets of California

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Amazon has robots on the streets. It’s a good bet urban delivery will never be the same.

Amazon has officially rolled out its last-mile delivery robots in a Southern California testbed. Called Scout, the delivery robot is designed to autonomously ferry parcels from urban distribution points to Amazon Prime customers, removing the need for vans and cars in last-mile delivery.

Amazon has previously tested its delivery robots in Washington State, but this marks the first California deployment. The robots, deployed in the Irvine area, will drive during daytime hours. Though designed to operate autonomously, the test robots will be accompanied by humans to ensure nothing goes wrong. So-called “Scout Ambassadors” will also be gauging public reaction to the robots, which is a big X-factor in plans to deploy autonomous mobile robots on city streets.

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Amazon’s revolutionary retail strategy? Recycling old ideas

 

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I SOMETIMES THINK that if you could look in the safe behind Jeff Bezos’ desk, instead of the sports almanac from Back to the Future you’d find an Encyclopedia of Retail, written in maybe 1985. There would be Post-It notes on every page, and every one of those notes would have been turned into a team and maybe a product.

Amazon is so new, and so dramatic in its speed and scale and aggression, that we can easily forget how many of the things it’s doing are actually very old. And we can forget how many of the slightly dusty incumbent retailers we all grew up with were also once considered radical, daring, piratical new businesses that made people angry with their new ideas.

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Amazon just got FAA approval to fly drones for deliveries

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 Your Amazon prime packages are one step closer to being delivered by drones.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a certificate to Amazon Prime Air on Wednesday, allowing the company to operate its MK27 unmanned aircraft for package deliveries, the federal agency said in a statement.

On the same day, Amazon (AMZN) announced it will begin delivering packages to customers by drone “within months” at its artificial intelligence, robotics and space conference re:Mars in Las Vegas. Amazon’s certificate is valid for one year and is eligible for renewal, according to the FAA.

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