Amazon and FedEx push to put delivery robots on your sidewalk

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Amazon hopes its Scout robots will carry packages autonomously the “last mile,” from delivery hubs to homes. – ROGER KISBY/GETTY IMAGES

The companies are backing bills in more than a dozen states that would legalize the devices. Some bills would block cities from regulating them at all.

IN FEBRUARY, A lobbyist friend urged Erik Sartorius, the executive director of the Kansas League of Municipalities, to look at a newly introduced bill that would affect cities. The legislation involved “personal delivery devices”—robots that, as if in a sci-fi movie, might deliver a bag of groceries, a toolbox, or a prescription to your doorstep. It would have limited their weight to 150 pounds, not including the cargo inside. And it would have allowed them to operate on any sidewalk or crosswalk in Kansas at speeds up to 6 miles per hour, the pace of a quick human jog.

Lawmakers and lobbyists say the bill was drafted with help from Amazon. In later testimony to a state senate committee, Amazon lobbyist Jennie Massey said the bill would allow devices like Scout, the company’s bright blue, six-wheeled robot, “to bring new technology and innovation to Kansas.” She noted that Amazon had invested $2.2 billion in Kansas since 2010, and that the company employed 3,000 full-time workers in the state.

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Heavy-duty trucks and buses must go electric, says new report

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The electrification of trucks and buses needs to be accelerated, says a new report released yesterday by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

 The UCS report, titled “Ready for Work: Now Is the Time for Heavy-Duty Electric Vehicles,” states that there are currently about 28 million trucks and buses in the US, or 10% of all vehicles. They are responsible for 28% of total carbon emissions in the transportation sector.

Electric trucks, on the other hand, emit 44% to 79% less emissions than diesel trucks, depending on the type of vehicle. They have zero tailpipe emissions. Further, the ownership costs can be cheaper.

Fuel and maintenance savings can offset the higher upfront costs of heavy-duty electric vehicles, making them cheaper than a diesel or natural gas vehicle over the life of a vehicle.

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FedEx unveils autonomous delivery robot

Trials of the robot, which has a top speed of 10 mph, will begin later this year

Startups do it. Amazon does it. And now even Fedex is doing it — experimenting with robots for short-range deliveries. Today, the company officially announced its new FedEx SameDay Bot, which it says could help make “last mile” deliveries more efficient.

The SameDay Bot is battery-powered, has a top speed of 10 mph, and is autonomous, meaning it can steer itself around pedestrians and traffic using a combination of LIDAR sensors like those found in self-driving cars and regular cameras.

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Addressing the Problem of Addresses

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Futurist Thomas Frey:  When Hurricane Katrina hit the city of New Orleans the US Post Office was faced with a major dilemma. For countless centuries, the modus operandi for the post office was to deliver mail to a location, and the individuals who lived at that location would stop by and pick up their mail. But following the hurricane, the floods had destroyed all of the “locations”.

 

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FedEX SenseAware Tracks Packages

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Ultimate Package Tracking

Do you constantly worry about your important package that is being shipped to your friend? Well, with FexEX’s SenseAware, you’ll certainly get much better info regarding your package, than the traditional tracking number. The device uses an accelerometer, light sensor, cellular transmitter and GPS receiver to gather and report data on how the package is treated, and even whether it was opened in the desired location. You’ll be able to log on to the website and check out said information any time. The service is still rather pricey at $120 per month, but if you’re shipping something really important, it might be something that you’d want.

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