The New Logistics: Amazon, Geek+, Others are Working on 24/7 Systems

2017 05 11 um 14 49 48

In our new series ‘The New Logistics’ we’re going to cover interesting developments and innovative startups rethinking logistics and delivery at every step of the way.

Here is a video by China’s People’s Daily about a robotic sorting system at ‘a Chinese company’ that is finishing 200,000+ packages a day. The robots are self-charging. (they operate 24/7)

While we’re in China, Vertex Venture leads a $14M round in Chinese logistics robot startup Geek+:

Vertex Venture Holdings Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Singapore’s Temasek Holdings, has led a RMB100 million (US$14 milllion) series A+ round in Geek+, a Beijing-based logistics robot developer whose technology, similar Amazon’s Kiva robot, is designed to improve automation at warehouses. […]
The box-shaped robots can move on its own, position under shelves to move objects and provide assistance to human workers on sorting packages.

geek+

The Geek+ (beware, autoplaying video) robots look similar to those in the video above but the concept behind them is different.

Freightos, which Tech in Asia calls “An Expedia for the shipping industry” raised $25 million:

freightos.png

Freightos, a Hong Kong-headquartered startup that lets people compare prices and book shipping services, has raised a US$25 million funding round led by GE Ventures, the venture capital arm of General Electric. It’s an extension of its series B round.

The first Starship robots have started delivering. (pizzas and other food) Wired:

Starting today, when the hungry masses in Hamburg, Germany order from Domino’s, it may not be a fellow in a car or on a bike making the delivery, but an autonomous, cooler-sized machine, casually rolling down the sidewalk. […]

The six-wheeled robot Starship built to conquer that final stretch holds about four or five medium pizzas, runs an electric motor, and ambles down the sidewalk at a casual 4 mph. The 18-pound bot navigates the world with a bevy of cameras and short-range ultrasonic sensors (the kind that tell your car to beep when you’re about to back into a lamppost). Armed with high-res maps of its territory, it can cross streets and climb curbs—anything to get to where it needs to go, as long as it doesn’t involve going inside or climbing stairs.

Since forming in 2014, Starship Technologies has tested its system in 16 countries and 59 cities, working with customers like Door Dash, Postmates, and the Swiss Post. The tech-obsessed pizza maker made for a natural next partner.

See also this Buzzfeed article on the cooperation between Starship and DoorDash:

Asked whether robots would replace human “Dashers,” DoorDash cofounder and chief product officer Stanley Tang told BuzzFeed News that the company sees the ‘bots as a complement, not replacement. “We’ve found that the robots are better suited to the smaller, short-distance orders that Dashers often avoid, thereby freeing up Dashers to fulfill the bigger and more complex deliveries that often result in more money for them,” he said.

DoorDash is putting six delivery robots into action in California with plans to expand elsewhere in the US.

Starship is also cooperating with Postmates for first experiments.

P2P transportation services like Uber and Lyft remain a wildcard when it comes to the future of the last mile. One example for how everyone worldwide seems to be exploring this: Egyptian taxi app Ousta launches a delivery service.

Tech.eu: German logistics startup Fliit has raised €1.5 million for its food delivery platform:

Fliit is a logistics platform that focuses on supplying fresh food and other sensitive products to customers. The startup has created a provider management system to match the right supplier with every retailer and product. The platform also provides transparency through various tracking options.

Fliit is based in Berlin, Germany.

Amazon is building towards 24/7 as well: Hydrogen-powered forklifts will speed up Amazon deliveries:

Amazon will replace its forklifts’ batteries in 11 warehouses with an alternative power source: hydrogen fuel cells (HFC). The e-retail giant is investing millions in the technology, acquiring the right to buy up to 23 percent of hydrogen fuel cell maker Plug Power. […]

The power source will allow Amazon’s forklifts to work round the clock, since they don’t need to take time off to charge their batteries. Operators will simply have to refill them with hydrogen fuel when they run out. In addition to using Plug Power’s products in its fulfillment centers, Amazon will also work with the company to expand its fuel cell engines’ applications. If the partnership goes well, the tech titan could spend up to $140 million to equip fulfillment centers with HFCs and their corresponding infrastructure in 2018.

Instacart CEO Apoorva Mehta on what he learned from Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos:

“From Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos, the biggest thing that I have learned is to not to conform,” says Mehta. “In fact one of our company values at Instacart is called ‘Of course, but maybe.’ It sort of emphasizes the fact that of course this is the way things have been done before, but maybe if you use new technologies or look at the problem in a different way, you can come up with a solution that’s much, much better.”

Instacart is valued at $3 billion now and has more than 10,000 part-time workers in the US.

Singapore startup Anchanto raises funding to expand e-commerce logistics platforms in Asia:

Anchanto will use the newly-raised capital to grow its e-commerce logistics SaaS platform in APAC countries including India, Malaysia, Thailand, The Philippines and Vietnam.

Luxasia, who is an existing client of Anchanto, stated that partnering with Anchanto will strengthen its e-commerce presence. Currently, Luxasia already works with over 3,000 retail outlets to distribute its products. But with offline retail on the decline, building up its regional e-commerce network comes as a prudent move.

On-demand logistics platform OnTruck raises $10 million Series A:

OnTruck’s platform automates the process of connecting a shipment to carriers’ trucks with users selecting price specs and pick-up arrangements. It earns revenue through commission fees, generated by algorithm, on the charges from carriers and shippers.

OnTruck is currently operating in Barcelona and Madrid.

It sees most of its activity in the first and last mile of delivery, Iñigo Juantegui, CEO of OnTruck, told Tech.eu with shipments from airports to warehouses and vice versa.

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