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For a long time, Amazon has been looking into applications for self-driving vehicles — and testing fleets of self-flying drones for making package deliveries. So it only makes sense that the Seattle-based online retailing giant would meld those vehicles for a warehouse-to-doorstep delivery system virtually untouched by human hands.
In a patent published today, Amazon inventors Hilliard Bruce Siegel and Ethan Evans describe a system that has autonomous ground vehicles transport packages to a customer’s neighborhood — perhaps even the street in front of the customer’s door — and coordinate the doorstep delivery with a drone.
Both types of robo-carriers would be in contact wirelessly with a central computer network that would manage the operation. The ground vehicle could be directed to head over to a fulfillment center, pick up shipments and plot a course for deliveries. Drones could flit back and forth to drop off packages and charge up at the vehicle.
Various diagrams show how the drones could pick up packages from a vehicle in the street, then fly over to drop off deliveries on doorsteps, designated drop zones and upper-floor balconies. Some diagrams show big delivery truck as the base of operations, while other show a smaller delivery robot like the ones that are being tested north of Seattle.
The drones could be owned or operated by an entity that’s distinct from the ground-vehicle service — for example, by the managers of the apartment building that’s being serviced. You could have different companies put in charge of deliveries in different neighborhoods. The important thing is that everything’s coordinated through a central network.
Such a combination system would solve several challenges: For example, the battery-powered drones wouldn’t have to use as much juice as they would if they were flying directly from a fulfillment center to make a delivery. There’d be less noise, and less need to fly over other people’s property.
For ground vehicles, the system not only bridges the “last mile” of a delivery route — it addresses the last 100 feet. Siegel and Evans, who are veterans in the patent business, say that’s becoming increasingly important.
“Over time, an increasing frequency and volume of deliveries of items from e-commerce and mail-order companies has resulted in an increased need for faster and more efficient delivery methods,” they write.
There’s one more twist to the application: It cites a GeekWire story about Google’s patent for using drones to pick up shipments and fly them to a mobile dropbox.
The application was filed back in 2016, and there’s no guarantee that Amazon will develop an all-autonomous delivery system like the one described. But the description does provide an indication of what Amazon has been thinking about as it builds out its own end-to-end delivery system.
For what it’s worth, Amazon has been investing what’s thought to be hundreds of millions of dollars with transportation startups such as Rivian and Aurora. Amazon plans to buy 100,000 all-electric Rivian vans for its delivery fleet. And recentlypublished patent applications indicate that both Rivian and Aurora are putting a lot of effort into making their vehicles autonomous, even under challenging conditions.
The big question is, what took so long for someone to get the patent for this idea? We’ve reached out to Amazon for comment, and will update this item with anything substantial we hear.
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GeekWire aerospace and science editor Alan Boyle is an award-winning science writer and veteran space reporter. Formerly of NBCNews.com, he is the author of “The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference.” Follow him via CosmicLog.com, on Twitter @b0yle, and on Facebook and MeWe.
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Making a decision to move your office space or home gives you anxious moments because it is time for you to decide what must stay and what must go. You will also need to consider the services of packaging companies or relocation companies who specialize in relocation services. It requires time to research and speak to […]
It’s a no brainer!
When most people think about hunger, they think of a starving child in a third-world country. Or perhaps they think of a long line of homeless people waiting outside an inner-city soup kitchen.
The truth is: hunger is a HUGE problem everywhere in the United States, but it’s not always easy to see. In a country known for its wealth and prosperity, 42 million Americans struggle to find their next meal.
The face of hunger has changed. No longer is it just the homeless man on the street reaching out for a helping hand, but every day millions of people are struggling to feed their families. No one is a stranger to the economic hardships of today.
Hunger is all around us. Hunger is not limited to a single demographic or geographic region of the country. It is not a problem only affecting the homeless or the poorest of the poor. Hunger is everywhere, and the numbers are staggering.
As the economy continues to put a strain on our wallets, people are being forced to make extremely difficult decisions. What does hunger look like, you might ask?
- It is your father-in-law who just got laid off and now struggles to pay his mortgage and put food on the table.
- It is your elderly neighbor who must choose between buying groceries and heating her home.
- It is your child’s classmate who goes to school each day without lunch and is too embarrassed to ask for help.
Adults who suffer from hunger live shorter, less healthy, and less happy lives. They are more likely to be obese, more prone to mental illness, and more susceptible to deadly diseases. Hunger is terrible for adults, but it’s so much worse for children.
Hunger and malnourishment go hand-in-hand, and kids who miss out on essential nutrients during their critical years of growth will be dramatically disadvantaged for the remainder of their lives. 1 in 6 American children go to bed hungry each night.
According to the Food Research and Action Center, hungry children have compromised immune systems and are two to four times as likely as nourished children to develop health problems—ranging from the relatively minor to potentially fatal. Childhood hunger also impairs cognitive development. Kids who don’t have enough to eat do worse academically, do worse socially, and risk becoming so impacted—even by only temporary food insecurity—that recovery becomes impossible.
Most people tend to think about hunger during the holiday season. We see a ton of food drives occur right around Thanksgiving. But what happens during the rest of the year? Food insecurity is a year-round issue affecting millions of families and individuals across the country.
The summer months are the most difficult time for our nation’s food banks. During the school year, hungry children get the majority of their daily calories from free or reduced price school lunches. When school is out of session, those calories must come from somewhere else. There are summer meal programs, but over 13 million children face a greater risk of hunger during the summer because those programs are difficult to access and underfunded.
Thankfully, the summer is also the busiest season for the moving industry, so Move For Hunger has a great opportunity to fill the shelves of our communities’ food banks. Move For Hunger works to rescue food from people’s homes that would otherwise be thrown away and get it to local food banks where it’s needed.
Want to make a difference?
Click here to Get Involved in our fight against hunger.
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If you have an upcoming move, figuring out where to even start can be intimidating. Household packing and moving is not something most people look forward to, but we have collected some helpful tips from articles on Moving.com, Buzzfeed, HGTV and How Stuff Works to help your next move go a little smoother. Here is a summary of what we found.
The following are some basic tips for household packing:
- Don’t Procrastinate – This seems simple enough, but getting started can be difficult. A few weeks prior to your move, start packing several boxes a day.
- Pack Room-by-Room – Focus on one area of a room at a time and don’t mix items from different rooms in one box.
- Label Boxes Clearly – On the top and side of each box, write a general description of the contents and the room name.
- Use Packing Paper – Regular newspaper may bleed ink onto your possessions. Use white packing paper to wrap all items.
- Stick with Moving Boxes – Use boxes designed for moving. Boxes obtained from grocery or liquor stores are not always clean and might not hold the weight of the items that you will be putting in them.
- Don’t Box up Everything – You should personally transport heirlooms, important papers, legal documents (wills, passports. etc.), and valuables.
Now you’re packed, here are some tips for the actual move:
- Keep Children and Pets Out of the Way – No matter who is moving your things — professional movers or friends — they don’t want a barking dog or a rambunctious kid running around while they’re carrying heavy boxes and furniture.
- Pack an Overnight Bag Containing the Essentials – Chances are, you’ll be too tired to unpack your things. You’ll want your essentials within easy access.
- Change Your Address at the Post Office – Try to submit the change address form two weeks prior to the move to avoid missing timely mail like bills.
- Write Down Your Utility Meter Readings – When you receive your final bill from your utility companies, verify that the figures match up.
- Make Sure There’s Parking for the Truck – When the moving van or truck arrives at the new place, it will need a place to park and unload. This can become complicated depending on what type of home you’re moving into. For example, if you’re moving into a house, the truck can simply park out front. But if you’re moving into a high rise building, then you may need to set up a place ahead of time for the van or truck. You may also need to reserve an elevator. This should be set up beforehand, so the movers can carry things in as quickly as possible when they arrive.
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