Logistics Tech Review: UPS' tech response to pandemic, Uber Freight seeks outside investors
Hello and welcome to the third edition of Logistics Tech Review.
This past week, we’ve continued to see the acceleration of COVID-19’s effects on automation in warehouses, and additional investment keeps pouring to logistics tech companies, including Uber’s loss-making Uber Freight unit as well as TuSimple.
We get a look inside UPS’ response to the COVID-19 crisis, including how changes are accelerating the focus on e-commerce fulfillment. UPS has several of its own autonomous mobile robot (AMR) deployments through pilots with Locus Robotics, and is investing in smart networks and new warehouse execution systems.
As fast-paced as the changes may seem in response to COVID-19 for AMR companies targeting North America and Europe, the real growth appears to be in China.
(Image: Geekplus/Interact Analysis)
Interact Analysis released a great whitepaper detailing Geekplus Technologies’ rapid growth with just one of its customers, a sporting goods company in China. Geekplus has rolled out 70+ AMR deployments for just one of their customers in several cities during each of February, March, and April 2020.
Amidst the accelerated interest in automation, e-commerce companies have shown the greatest propensity for automation, reports Supply Chain Dive. This is likely due to the e-commerce industry’s prior investments in the area; industries such as food/beverage and pharmaceutical/medical supplies are not as keen on determining that automation is helping during the pandemic.
Investment in logistics companies continues its successful run. Uber is in talks with investors to raise outside funding for its loss-making Uber Freight business unit, a digital freight brokerage. While Uber itself may be looking to share the burden of funding this growing but unprofitable unit, investors seem willing to put up the $500 million reportedly being raised.
Additionally, Navistar has taken a minority stake in the autonomous trucking startup TuSimple. This deepens the partnership between the startup and the truck manufacturer, who have been working together to roll out TuSimple’s autonomous trucks.
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