Shyp is preparing for a comeback under new management

Fifteen months after shutting down, Shyp is getting ready to launch again. The startup tweeted today that “We are back! We’re hard at work to rebuild an unparalleled shipping experience. Before we begin operations again, we’d love to hear your feedback in this quick survey. We look forward to working with you and can’t wait to change the future of shipping!”

Most of the survey questions focus on online shopping returns, asking how easy or difficult it was to package the product for return, print the prepaid label, purchase postage or ship the product. The last question offers a hint about what direction the rebooted Shyp might take, asking “When returning a product, how likely would you be to use a service that picked up and shipped the product instead of having to ship it yourself?”

Shyp’s website doesn’t say when it will be back or what services it will offer, but it does mention that Shyp restarted in January 2019 under new management and backed by angel investors “with plans to disrupt the industry with what it does best: cutting-edge technology and a superior customer experience.”

Once one of the hottest on-demand startups, Shyp shut down in March 2018 after missing targets to expand to cities outside of San Francisco. When it first launched in 2014, Shyp initially offered on-demand service for almost anything customers wanted shipped, charging $5 plus postage to pick up, package and bring the item to a shipping company. Eventually it introduced a pricing Read the rest

Volvo’s sporty looking Vera self-driving electric truck will go to work in Sweden

The Vera autonomous, electric truck from Volvo’s trucking subsidiary is not what you might expect in a transport truck — it looks like a road-hugging sportscar, something emphasized by its lack of a place for humans to sit. The real reason it looks like this is that it’s totally self-driving, however — and tailor-made for use in specific situations like serving the Swedish port in Gothenburg where it’ll soon begin operations.

Vera’s inaugural job will be to move goods packed in cargo trailers from a logistics center to the actual port terminal, where it’ll be loaded onto boats for transport. This first commercial use of the connected, electric freight-moving vehicle will be done in partnership with logistics company DFDS.

Use of the Vera will make up one part of a larger connected system to move goods from the logistics center to distribution destinations around the world. They’ll operate autonomously but be monitored by a central operator working out of a control tower, and they’ll be operating at a top speed of only around 24 mph.

These are basically just heavy-duty land tugs for now, but if successful, there’s a lot of potential business to be had in providing similar services for shipping-port facilities around the world.

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Walmart announces it will fully integrate Jet’s teams, but Jet will remain a standalone brand

Three years after acquiring Jet for $3 billion, Walmart announced today that it is now more fully integrating Jet’s teams into Walmart. Jet will continue to operate as a standalone brand, mainly in large cities.

Jet president Simon Belsham will support the transition through early August. After that, Jet will be managed by Kiernan Shanahan, Walmart senior vice president of food, consumables and health and wellness and the lead of Walmart Ecommerce’s Everyday Living category. Jeff Saunders, Jet’s vice president of operations and tech lead, will lead the integration of Jet into the Everyday Living team.

In a blog post announcing the transition, Walmart Ecommerce president and CEO Marc Lore explained that the company decided to fold the rest of Jet’s teams into Walmart because “Across most of the country, we saw we could get a much higher return on our marketing investments with Walmart.com, so we’ve dialed up our marketing spend there. However, in specific large cities where Walmart has few or no stores, Jet has become hyper focused on those urban customers.”

“While this has made Jet smaller from a sales perspective, it has helped us create a smart portfolio approach where our businesses complement each other,” he added.

After Walmart acquired Jet in 2016, it merged a few of its teams, including supply chain. Combining fulfillment centers and mirroring inventory helped Walmart build its delivery logistics , enabling two-day free shipping and free next-day delivery without a membership fee, making it more competitive with Amazon, which charges a fee for its Prime program.

Jet.com relaunched last year to focus on customers in big cities, like New York, with a product assortment tailored to their shopping preferences and three-hour grocery delivery to compete with Amazon Prime Now. Jet also introduced a concierge shopping service called JetBlack last … Read the rest

Drones are making a difference in the world and regulatory agencies are helping

About two months ago, in the middle of the night, a small, specially designed unmanned aircraft system — a drone — carried a precious cargo at 300 feet altitude and 22 miles per hour from West Baltimore to the University of Maryland Medical Center downtown, a trip of about 5 minutes. They called it, “One small hop for a drone; one major leap for medicine.”

The cargo was a human kidney, and waiting for that kidney at the hospital was a patient whose life would be changed for the better.

“This whole thing is amazing,” the 44-year-old recipient later told the University of Maryland engineering and medical teams that designed the drone and the smart container. The angel flight followed more than two years of research, development and testing by the Maryland aerospace and medical teams and close coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) .

There were many other ways the kidney could have been delivered to the hospital, but proving that it could be done by drone sets the stage for longer and longer flights that will ultimately lower the cost and speed up the time it takes to deliver an organ. And speed is life in this case — the experts say the length of time it takes to move an organ by traditional means is a major issue today.

This is one example of how small drones are already changing the landscape of our economy and society. Our job at the Department of Transportation … Read the rest

India’s Zomato flies drone to deliver food in successful test

Zomato, one of India’s largest food delivery firms, may have figured out a faster way to crawl through dense populated routes: going air with drones.

The company, which has expanded its restaurant listing and booking service to about two-dozen markets in recent years, said today it has successfully tested a payload delivery from a hybrid drone.

The drone carried a payload of 5 kgs (11 pounds) and covered 5 kms (3.1 miles) in 10 mins, said Deepinder Goyal, CEO of Zomato, which aims to deliver food to customers in under 15 minutes some day. The drone hit a peak speed of 80 kmph (49.7 mph). It was a non-commercial delivery.

“Fifteen minutes is only possible if we take the aerial route – roads are not efficient for very fast delivery. While our biker fleet nowadays delivers in 30.5 minutes on an average (which is the fastest in the industry as far as we know), every incremental minute with our fleet becomes harder as it separates our users from their ordered food,” he said.

For Zomato, the drone test is more than a gimmick. The delivery firm, heavily backed by Ant Financial and Delivery Hero, acquired local drone startup TechEagle last year. Goyal said the company has finalized the design of its drone, which is lightweight and hosts an array of sensors to detect and avoid static and dynamic objects in its journey.

“Although being fully automated, each drone is currently being tested with (remote) pilot supervision to ensure … Read the rest