Friday, March 27, 2020

UPS in a Deal for Drones to Delivery Packages

Flight Forward, a subsidiary of UPS that handles drone delivery, has partnered with German drone manufacturer Wingcopter to develop the next generation of package delivery drones for a variety of use cases in the United States and internationally. An article in GPS World writes:
UPS chose Wingcopter for its unmanned aircraft technology and its track record in delivering a variety of goods over long distances in multiple international settings. As part of this collaboration -- UPSFF's first new relationship with a drone manufacturer since its formation -- both companies will work toward earning regulatory certification for a Wingcopter unmanned aircraft to make commercial delivery flights in the United States. It also is a critical step toward building a diverse fleet of drones with varying capabilities to meet potential customer needs. 
The Wingcopter drones feature vertical takeoffs and landings in tight spaces, transitioning to efficient, high-speed horizontal flight, enabling ranges suitable for a variety of uses. These capabilities will allow UPSFF to begin developing solutions that, if approved, will go well beyond the healthcare and retail industries to solve long-standing challenges for high-tech, industrial manufacturing, hospitality, entertainment and other customers. [Wincopter's] electric vertical takeoff and landing drones have a patented tilt-rotor mechanism, which enables a seamless transition between two drone modes: multicopter for hovering and fixed-wing for low-noise forward flight. The aerodynamic Wingcopter aircrafts operate with stability even in harsh weather conditions.
"Drone delivery is not a one-size-fits-all operation," said Bala Ganesh, vice president of the UPS Advanced Technology Group. "Our collaboration with Wingcopter helps pave the way for us to start drone delivery service in new use-cases. UPS Flight Forward is building a network of technology partners to broaden our unique capability to serve customers and extend our leadership in drone delivery."

Monday, March 23, 2020

Pandemic - This is Just What the Internet was Developed For

As more countries enforce social distancing (and even quarantine), the internet will stay online during the Coronavirus pandemic. It was designed for just this type of situation (well, nuclear war, but a catastrophe is a catastrophe). The internet got its start in the US more than 50 years ago as a government solution to problems likely in the Cold War -- Arpanet was designed to resist destruction of nodes. For years, scientists and researchers used it to communicate and share data with one another.

The work-from-home model is set to strain the internet’s underlying infrastructure, with a burden likely to be particularly felt in the home networks that people have set up, and internet service providers such as Comcast, Charter and Verizon who connect those home networks.

During the Cold War there was constant fear of nuclear attack from the Soviet Union.  A communications system for computers was envisioned, and universities took the lead. Today's Internet emerged from military technology. ARPANET, developed by the American military as a network of communication across the country on servers that were decentralized, as a way to safeguard against the possibility of a nuclear attack.

By decentralizing the network, if one server of computers went down, the others would still be able to function because they would be able to simply pick up the same information from another server. A communications system for computers was envisioned, and universities took the lead. Only a few computers were the first connected in the original ARPANET, located in the respective computer research labs of UCLA, Stanford, UC Santa Barbara, and the University of Utah. ARPANET protected the flow of information between military installations by creating a network of geographically separated computers that could exchange information via a newly developed protocol (rule for how computers interact) called NCP (Network Control Protocol).

Another area of concern: response to the Coronavirus exposes Internet inequality among U.S. students as schools close their doors, as millions of Americans lack web access. This digital divide causes problems for educators’ efforts to continue instruction during this health crisis.

Read more here....

Friday, March 20, 2020

When Drone Delivery Moves from Fad to Requirement

The concept of “social distancing,” in the face of the pandemic, is racing around the world. This signals a time for cities and governments to embrace drone delivery -- not just for speed and convenience, but to protect citizens' most vulnerable members.

Drones originally designed to spray pesticides for agricultural applications were adapted in China to spray disinfecting chemicals in some public spaces and on epidemic prevention vehicles traveling between impacted areas. (Coronavirus is mainly transmitted via respiratory droplets and can also spread by touching contaminated surfaces. Disinfectant spray helps reduce these transmission mechanisms.)

The drone delivery company JD worked with government stakeholders to dramatically increase service areas to bring supplies to quarantined and isolated areas. JD explains that the drones drop parcels at a fixed point, allowing customers to pick them up without human-to-human contact – which minimizes the risk for both the courier and the customer.

In Spain, drones were used to alert people to the need to shelter in place. Drones have also been used for surveillance of large groups of people. Soaring over crowds, these devices can pinpoint if anyone is in need of medical attention. Of course, this is another method that is allowing medical employees to scan at a distance. Some drones are even equipped with infrared thermometers to detect body temperatures. A high temperature can mean that the person has the coronavirus, yet this method is far from foolproof. 

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Why Social Distancing is a Must Right Now

The concept of interrupting the spread COVID19 is not radical. Travel bans enacted in the early outbreak could have short-stepped the process of dispersal of the contagion, but that time has, sadly, passed. Social distancing is the practice of purposefully reducing close contact between people. According to the CDC, social distancing means remaining out of “congregate settings” as much as possible. Everyone should avoid mass gatherings and maintain distance of about 6 feet from others when possible.

This chunk from the below-referenced article explains what happened in South Korea, triggering the wildfire effect:

Patient 31 - It’s not clear where Patient 31 became infected with the virus, but in the days before her diagnosis, she travelled to crowded spots in Daegu, as well as in the capital Seoul. On February 6 she was in a minor traffic accident in Daegu, and checked herself into an Oriental medicine hospital. While at that hospital, she attended services at the Daegu branch of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, on February 9 and again on February 16.
It seems South Korea has stabilized its outbreak. Social distancing is crucial for preventing the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). COVID-19 can spread through coughing, sneezing and close contact. By minimizing the amount of close contact we have with others, we reduce our chances of catching the virus and spreading it to our loved ones and within our community.

Read more here...

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

When a Chef is the Boss - Learn from Great Leadership

Here is a great role model, for these difficult pandemic times: Chef José Andrés. The celebrity chef is shuttering his Washington D.C.-area restaurants because of COVID19. He is converting many into "Community Kitchens" offering lunches to people in need.

It seems Andrés plans to scale the project across the U.S.A. through his disaster relief nonprofit, World Central Kitchen. Andrés and his non-profit have already helped serve over 3,000 people stuck on the quarantined Grand Princess cruise ship.

Andrés and his wife Patricia created the charity in 2010 to help feed people in Haiti after a major earthquake. Every year, the nonprofit serves millions of meals around the world to people recovering from disasters, and they are expert at getting a kitchen up-and-running quickly and working under difficult conditions.

WCK served close to 4 million meals in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, in 2017, and is still on task in PR to improve food security. Let's all take a lesson from this -- the time to help each other is now.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Can We Move Past a Materialistic, Consumption-Driven Economy?

One important question that arises, during this difficult time, is, can we move past a materialistic, consumption-driven economy?

Most present economic models result in rising inequality, impacting income, wealth, education, health, and social perceptions.

"... [a] materialistic social contract rests on philosopher and economist Adam Smith’s principle of the invisible hand, whereby people pursuing their own self-interest in free markets are led—as if by an invisible hand—to make everyone in society as well off as possible. The popular appeal of capitalist economies relies heavily on this principle, since people usually support capitalism because it is alleged to deliver higher living standards and more economic freedom than alternative economic systems."

The underlying assumption is that human needs can be satisfied through material prosperity and that decentralized, self-interested market decisions tend to generate such material prosperity more efficiently than more centralized, coordinated approaches. Too often, assessments of capitalism aim to focus on so-called "triumph" over socialism. Be real -- there is no such thing as a pure capitalist system. Humans embrace many different forms of capitalist economies; since money was invented about 5,000 years ago, people understand that trading improves both parties' position.

The current institutional capitalism and corporatism represents one of many different versions. And, around the globe, there are many iterations of capitalism right now. Singapore, for example, is the fourth richest country in the world in terms of per-capita GDP with an unemployment rate of 2.2 percent or lower since 2009. Who doesn't regard this city-state as one of the most free and open, pro-business economies in the world? Yet the government in Singapore routinely guides investment policy, and government-linked firms dominate telecommunications, media, and finance. Such intertwining would be unthinkable in America, Norway, Japan, or Canada. Like Singapore, many countries’ form of capitalism is steered not by that unseen hand — but by defined policy.

Human-centered capitalism: Utilizing market forces (capitalism) to benefit society, measured in gross national well-being instead of domestic product (human-centered)

What activities add up what might be considered a "normal life," one that is well-rounded? Could our model for consumption and interaction be more accommodating to a lifestyle where care of each other, of personal character development, can be fostered? We all benefit from lifestyles influencing community in a positive way, infused with personal creativity and work-life balance.Economics enables us to explore why people sometimes make irrational decisions, and why and how their behavior does not follow the predictions of so-called experts. Humans are emotional, oft times making decisions that are not in their self-interest. We should aspire to get away from viewing capitalism as some cold, numbers-only thing or a zero sum game that pits business profits against government taxes or capitalist bosses vs socialist workers.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Robots Taking Jobs... Again

The robot future started years ago...

The adoption of industrial robots in France makes manufacturing businesses more productive and profitable but at the expense of jobs, according to a recent paper presented by the National Bureau of Economic Research, a private, non-profit, non-partisan research organization in America. 
In a paper titled "Competing with Robots: Firm-Level Evidence from France," economics professors Daron Acemoglu (MIT), Claire LeLarge (University of Paris Saclay), and Pascual Restrepo (Boston University) analyzed 55,390 French manufacturing firms to study the economic impact of robot adoption.

Monday, March 2, 2020

What is Europe's Strategy for Data?

The European Commission presented its long-awaited EU data strategy in Brussels on February 29, 2020. In response to evolving economic and social concerns brought about through digital transformation, European lawmakers debuted a discussion paper addressing a vision for Europe as a leader in the global data economy. The paper was presented together with the Commission’s Communication, Shaping Europe’s Digital Future and other papers, such as on Artificial Intelligence.