By Jeremiah Owyang, with co-contributor Ryan Brinks
Drones come in many shapes and sizes, and are coming to a front door near you. Retail, logistics, and the way we shop and consume will never be the same.
We call this trend the “Autonomous World” when robots are able to augment, supplant and replace human workers at greater efficiency. It’s happening in all walks of life, industries and sectors, but the one area that will be most impacted will be the retail and logistics space. Earlier this month, I was a keynote at Etail, where over a thousand retailers were present to learn about how on-demand workers and autonomous drones will impact their business models.
Ford is electrifying its most popular vehicles to make them even more capable, productive and fun to drive.
Happy New Year!
As we kick off 2017, at Ford, we’re also looking further into the future. The era of more affordable electrified vehicles is dawning, and we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make people’s lives better by changing the way the world moves.
Could Uber be figuring out that sometimes it’s actually better to seek permission first rather than forgiveness later? Don’t bet on it. But if that is the case, the news that the company has backed out of its controversy-ridden, permit-free deployment of self-driving cars in San Francisco would mark the start of Uber’s humility learning curve (The Guardian).
Uber maintained that it needed no permits since the tech it was testing in 16 vehicles wasn’t truly autonomous: A human driver was always present, and the system was more like the kind of autopilot Tesla already offers in its cars. The company stuck to its “We don’t need no stinking permits” stance even after videos surfaced of the vehicles running red lights and bicyclists complained about a bike-lane blind spot that Uber acknowledged. So the DMV revoked the test vehicles’ registrations.
Comma.ai is a startup that set out to build autonomous driving tech for hackers and hobbyists. In October, when regulators sent stern warnings to founder George Hotz — known for his exploits cracking iPhones and PlayStations — he shut down the announced product. But now he’s reviving it as an open-source effort (The Verge).
Yesterday, the code for self-driving software called Open Pilot, along with plans for complementary hardware called Comma Neo, went up on Github. Like so many open source projects, this one doesn’t provide a finished product; it’s more a framework for makers to build on. Right now, Comma’s tech works only with selected models of Acura and Honda vehicles — and only at certain speeds. At the start, at least, it will take a special kind of open-source true believer to turn the wheel over to collaboratively developed software. But longer term, Hotz says he’s laying the foundation for a kind of Android for self-driving cars.
Trader Joe’s, the cut-price gourmet grocer, is known for paying and treating its workers better than a lot of other retailers. We always assumed that explained the good spirits the staff there usually displays. A New York Times story suggests that the smiles and friendly chatter are more of a job requirement — and at least one worker is complaining to the National Labor Relations Board that he was fired for being too negative.
Company enforcement of an upbeat vibe is nothing new, of course. Sociologist Arlie Hochschild long ago dubbed the practice “emotional labor,” and it takes a toll on employees, not only because it’s exhausting but also because it erodes workers’ sense of personal integrity.
It’s hard to tell how widespread the problem is at Trader Joe’s, or whether the issue the Times airs is simply a problem with a single poorly managed outlet. One salient point: Trader Joe’s started in sunny Southern California, but the labor problems it’s beginning to face are emerging in the scrappier Northeast.