The New Logistics: Uber and Others Streamlining Trucking, Bulk Shipping & Freight Forwarding

In our series ‘The New Logistics’ we cover interesting developments and innovative startups that rethink logistics and delivery at every step of the way.

Uber is now matching trucking companies and loads via a new mobile app. Axios:

Trucking has long been a target of technology efforts to make it more efficient, ranging from providing better tools for drivers to communicate with the companies, to the development of self-driving trucks, which someday will likely eliminate drivers altogether. Last year Uber acquired Otto, a self-driving truck company, that’s now at the center of an ongoing lawsuit from Alphabet. Unfortunately, truck driving is predicted to be one of the first jobs that will be affected by automation.

Here is the official announcement of Uber Freight.

Shipamax

Shipamax, based in London, raises $2.5M for its cloud software platform for the bulk shipping industry. TechCrunch:

Shipamax, a London-based startup and recent graduate of Silicon Valley accelerator Y Combinator, has raised $2.5 million in seed funding, money it plans to use to continue building and marketing its cloud software platform for the bulk shipping industry. […]

Founded in 2016 by Jenna Brown and Fabian Blaicher, Shipamax wants to bring the bulk shipping industry into the digital age, specifically weaning customers, shipping brokers and owner-operators off of things like email, messaging and excel spreadsheets, the administrative tools they currently use for the booking and scheduling process. […]

Enter Shipamax’s cloud software solution, which is designed to not only handle all communications between customer, broker and operator — in other words, internal and external communications — but also knock the data exchanged into shape so that the process itself is infinitely more scalable.

Alibaba‘s Jack Ma, always on the press tour, says China will have to handle one billion packages daily by 2025. China Money Network:

“In the next five to eight years, the number of parcels in China may surge to one billion per day. That will bring with it huge challenges to every logistics company,” Ma stated during a summit held by Alibaba’s logistics affiliate Cainiao Network yesterday. “The only solution to this challenge is to invest in cutting-edge technology and cultivate young talent, and all of us need to work together collaboratively.”

The total number of parcels delivered in China grew to just over 31 billion in 2016, the sixth consecutive year seeing annual growth of 50% or more. But the total cost of logistics in China is around 14.9% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), compared to 8% in the U.S., indicating lower efficiency in how parcels are collected, sorted and delivered.

SF Express and Baidu Waimai may merge. China Money Network:

Baidu Inc.’s food delivery unit, Baidu Waimai, is rumored to be in deal talks with delivery giant SF Express. According to the rumors, the two companies may jointly establish a new company to operate the food delivery business and significantly expand its reach via SF Express’ vast network. SF Express may also acquire a stake in Baidu Waimai, according to reports.

For context:

Baidu Waimai is the third largest food delivery app and service provider in China, with a 17.3% market share, after Ele.me and Meituan Waimai, which have a 36.5% and 33% market share, respectively.

SF Express, one of China’s largest express delivery firms, just completed a back-door listing earlier this year and is currently valued at RMB226 billion (US$33 billion). It has a network covering 331 cities across China and 13,000 SF Express storefronts, according to the company’s 2016 annual report. Baidu Waimai, on the other hand, covers over 100 cities in China with 30 million users registered on its platform.

Amazon opened a a new research department in France for developing drones. Bloomberg

The e-commerce company said Thursday it has started development of an air-traffic control system to manage its fleet as the drones fly from warehouses to customers’ doors. Amazon created a new research and development team near Paris, where about a dozen software engineers and developers will build a system aimed at ensuring flying delivery vehicles don’t collide with buildings, trees, other drones and — most unpredictable of all — birds. Or, to use aviation industry jargon, “non-collaborative flying objects.” […]

The company has hired engineers with expertise in aviation as well as machine learning and artificial intelligence. […]

In addition to building tools for managing its own drone fleet, Amazon said it has also been working with the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, European Union and other countries to develop a broader traffic system for coordinating all drone flights in the air. “Managing the air traffic control for big air crafts up at high altitudes is very different from this,” Misener said.

Not so good for Amazon: Waco-based Central Freight Lines sues Amazon:

Waco-based Central Freight Lines has filed suit against Amazon Fulfillment Services, claiming the high-profile online retailer owes millions of dollars in shipping fees, broke its contract and tried to bully Central into providing service at reduced rates.

circle-in.png

Still very early, but Japan’s Shippio, which is similar to Flexport, secures a seed round funding to offer streamlined freight forwarding.
The Bridge

Tokyo-based Circle-in, developing the total support tool for international logistics works named Shippio, announced on Monday that it has fundraised an undisclosed amount in a seed round from 500 Startups Japan, YJ Capital, and East Ventures. […]

Shippio is a cloud-based platform for freight forwarders, export-import operators, trading companies and distribution department of enterprises, enabling simplication of complicated and time-consuming procedures such as communication via email / phone calls, document exchanges via FAX, spreadsheet-based trade management, in addition to helping improve business efficiency drastically and visualize forwarding processes and payments. Its official launch is scheduled in mid-June this year.

JD.com is building a large drone for longer ranges. Recode

The company will test its drone technology in the northwestern Chinese province of Shaanxi, where the online retailer has reached an agreement with the local government to test a low-altitude drone logistics network. Stretching over a 186-mile radius across Shaanxi, the drone logistics network will service hundreds of flight routes and air bases designed to optimize shipping online orders.

A spokesperson from JD told Recode that the company probably won’t have its one-ton capacity drone ready to fly for another two to three years. The early application for that drone will likely be to deliver food from agricultural centers in rural China into cities, rather than for last-mile delivery like the smaller drones already in use. […]

In the U.S., large-scale delivery by drone likely won’t happen until at least 2020, while the Federal Aviation Administration continues to craft rules and figure out a national low-altitude air traffic control system solution.

Teleretail.png

Teleretail is a Swiss startup building a similar delivery robot to the ones by Starship.
TechCrunch:

The company has put a twist on the personal delivery device—its machines, still in prototype, were designed to cover long distances, up to 50 miles, and to serve rural and suburban markets along with city residents.

Like its peers and competitors, including Starship Technologies or Marble for example, Teleretail employs some of the same systems developed for self-driving cars, including sensors, computer vision systems and GPS-aided navigational systems. The startup has obtained some of the components and equipment it used to build its prototypes from sponsors like Bosch, Nvidia, and lidar-makers SICK. Wherever it tests the robots, you can see their stickers adorned to the machines.

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2 comments

  1. Uber’s move into the trucking world only seems natural; it should prove to benefit those who are in areas where there are not a lot of logistics and/or shipping companies.

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  2. […] The New Logistics: Uber and Others Streamlining Trucking, Bulk Shipping & Freight Forwarding […]

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