Big Tech &
Walmart Grocery is expanding its $98 per year ‘Delivery Unlimited’ subscription across the US (3 minute read)
Walmart aims to service 50 percent of the US with its Delivery Unlimited membership program by the end of the year. Customers can choose to either pay an annual fee of $98 or a monthly fee of $12.95 for unlimited delivery. Walmart charges the same prices online as it does in its stores, unlike some other grocery delivery services. It offers a grocery pickup service for free, employing more than 45,000 personal shoppers in its stores to fulfill its online orders. Instead of using its own delivery professionals or independent contractors, Walmart partners with other delivery providers, including Postmates and DoorDash. Customers will be able to see if the delivery service is available to them by visiting the Walmart Grocery website.
Tesla tests Model S with an even faster ‘Plaid’ powertrain at Laguna Seca (3 minute read)
A new powertrain by Tesla made its debut at Laguna Seca raceway, lapping the course in just 96 seconds. The Plaid powertrain uses three electric motors and will be available in the Model S, Model X, and the second-generation Roadster. It will cost more than Tesla's current offerings, but less than its competitors. Tesla's Laguna Seca run was not officiated by track officials, so Elon Musk's claims that it had set a new record for the fastest four-door ever at Laguna Seca are not entirely valid, even though its run was a second faster than the previous record. The Plaid Model S will be reviewed and tuned at Germany's Nürburgring next, but it will not be trying to break any records there yet.
Scientists Succeed in Creating Northern White Rhino Embryos (2 minute read)
There are currently only two northern white rhinos left in the world, both of them female. Scientists have successfully created embryos using eggs from the females and frozen sperm from dead males. These embryos will soon be transferred into a surrogate mother. It is hoped that this will help save the species. The Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife research aims to create a herd of at least five animals, a project that could take decades. Northern white rhinos were almost wiped out due to poachers killing them for their horns, which are a prized item in traditional Chinese medicine for their supposed healing properties. The last male northern white rhino was euthanized in 2018 due to age-related ills.
McDonald's uses AI for ordering at drive-throughs (1 minute read)
Human servers will soon be replaced with voice-based technology in McDonald's US drive-throughs. McDonald's acquired Apprente earlier this week. The start-up will help implement the AI technology that will make the ordering process more efficient. Up to 20 million jobs in the manufacturing industry alone could be replaced by robots in the next decade. McDonald's has expanded its new McD Tech team by hiring more engineers and data scientists. It has recently invested in technology that alters drive-through menu panels depending on the weather and other factors.
Programming, Design & Data Science
OpenDataCam 2.0.0 (GitHub Repo)
OpenDataCam 2.0.0 is a software that is able to count cars, pedestrians, and motorbikes from a webcam live stream. It uses a neural network to detect objects. A four-minute demo video is available.
Spotify wants to know where you live and will be checking in (4 minute read)
Spotify will start collecting user addresses in an effort to detect fraud and abuse of its Premium Family program. Priced at $15 a month, Spotify's Premium Family plan allows up to six users to share one account, as long as they all live at the same address. In August, Spotify updated its terms and conditions to require location data from Premium Family subscribers. Spotify had tested collecting GPS data from customers previously, but customers complained. Experts are concerned about how Spotify will access and handle location information, as location data can be very sensitive private information. Spotify claims that it only uses location information for verification. The data is encrypted and can be edited by the plan owner as needed. It is unknown how often Spotify will be checking users' locations.
Uber argues its drivers aren’t core to its business, won’t reclassify them as employees (5 minute read)
The Assembly Bill 5 in California uses an 'ABC test' to determine whether independent contractors qualify as employees, and if they do, employers are required to give them the same rights and benefits as employees. Uber has claimed that ride-share drivers aren't doing work that is core to its business, so they don't qualify as employees under the new law. The main business of Uber is to serve as a technology platform for different types of digital marketplaces. Uber is not concerned about an increase in lawsuits due to the new bill. It has partnered with Lyft to lobby to create a new classification for ride-share drivers so that drivers will still get more protections, just not the same ones as normal employees. If Uber was forced to reclassify drivers under AB5, it would likely start rostering drivers, meaning that drivers would have less flexibility on when they can work.