Nov 13, 2020

Walmart & Cruise Join to Unlock Green Self-Driving Cars

IoT
Sustainability
GM
Walmart
Sam Scane
2 min
Walmart’s New Year resolutions start with self-driving delivery vehicles...

On Tuesday, Nov. 10th Walmart announced their team up with Cruise, an automated car production subsidiary of General Motors (GM), in an effort to not only achieve their zero-emissions goal by 2040 but be one of the first companies to employ self-driven cars in their delivery process. 

Cruise specifically has been working with GM to develop software to make GM’s Chevy Bolt electric vehicle fully autonomous. With a planned investment from GM of US$14mn to expand Cruise operations back in 2017, it seems to be paying off, following their recent team-up with Walmart. 

Walmart isn’t even the first company to take this tactic either, with Amazon announcing in early 2019 that they’re testing autonomous delivery robots, dubbed the “Amazon Scout”, a six-wheeled robot that moves at pedestrian speed to spear-head their fully-electric delivery system. 

While this isn’t the first time that Walmart has stretched its proverbial legs into the autonomously driven carpool, with partners like robotics company Nuro, back in the tail-end 2019, it’s clear to see the advantages of such a strategy in a world still very much dealing with COVID. 

So, what does this mean for supply chains? Well, there are clear advantages to having autonomous delivery vehicles, especially when they’re all run by electricity, such as reducing the human-error aspect that is essentially unavoidable in any part of the delivery process. Even outside of the context of a world still on the back-foot of a global pandemic, the notion of self-driving vehicles has always been sought after by companies across the board, as the final delivery stage is, arguably, one of if not the most important part of the supply chain. 

While this particular announcement is linked specifically to the more commercial side of deliveries, and at perhaps the perfect time historically speaking, it does potentially set a precedent for other companies to step-up, and for the world to recognise that greener, more efficient and cost-effective methods of delivery are the future. 

If developments like these become more common-place, we may see highways dedicated to autonomous delivery, and the landscape of commercial vehicles as a whole shift toward this new self-driven delivery experience, but with the legality of these vehicles and the reliance on technology continues to be focal points of discussion above all else, we may be a little ways off just yet. 

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Jun 21, 2021

Elon Musk's Boring Co. planning wider tunnels for freight

BoringCompany
supplychain
freight
elonmusk
2 min
Elon Musk’s tunnelling firm plans underground freight tunnels with shipping containers moved on “battery-powered freight carriers”, according to reports

Elon Musk’s drilling outfit The Boring Company could be shifting its focus towards subterranean freight and logistics solutions, according to reports. 

A Boring Co. pitch deck seen and shared by Bloomberg depicts plans to construct wider tunnels designed to accommodate shipping containers. 

Founded by Tesla CEO Musk in 2016, the company initially stated its mission was to offer safer, faster point-to-point transport for people, particularly in cities plagued by traffic congestion. It also planned longer tunnels to ferry passengers between popular destinations across the US. 

The Boring Co. completed its first commercial project earlier this year in April. The 1.7m tunnel system is designed to move professionals between convention centres in Las Vegas using Tesla EVs. It says the Las Vegas Convention Centre Loop can cut travel time between venues from 45 minutes to just two. 

 

Boring Co.'s new freight tunnels

The Boring Co.'s new tunnel designs would allow freight to be transported on purpose built platforms, labelled as “battery-powered freight carriers”. The document shows that, though the containers could technically fit within its current 12-foot tunnels, wider tunnels would be more efficient. Designs for a new tunnel, 21 feet in diameter, show that they can comfortably accommodate two containers side-by-side, with a one-foot gap between them.

The Boring Co.’s new drilling machine, dubbed Prufrock, can tunnel at a rate of one mile per week, which is six times faster than its previous machine, and is designed to ‘porpoise’ - mimicking the marine animal by ‘diving’ below ground and reemerging once the tunnel is complete. 

Tesla’s supply chain woes 

Tesla is facing its own supply chain and logistic issues. The EV manufacturer has raised the price of its vehicles, with CEO Musk confirming the incremental hike was a result of “major supply chain pressure”. Musk replied to a disgruntled Twitter user, confused as to why prices were rising while features were being removed from the cars, saying the “raw materials especially” were a big issue. 

Elon Musk Tweet

Car manufacturing continues to be one of the industries hit hardest by a global shortage in semiconductor chips. While China’s chip manufacturing levels hit an all-time high in May, and the US is proposing a 25% tax credit for chip manufacturers, demand still outstrips supply. Automakers including Volkswagen and Audi have again said they expect reduced vehicle output in the next quarter due to a lack of semiconductors, with more factory downtime likely
 

Top Image credit: The Boring Company / @boringcompany

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