Walmart wants to learn whether robotic deliveries can fit into with its retail operations so it is launching a pilot program with General Motors funded electric automobile company Cruise, using the tech startup’s electric, self-driving to deliver groceries and other goods to suburban Phoenix customers.
The project will begin sometime in early 2021 and will use battery-powered vehicles in Cruise’s test fleet in Scottsdale, Arizona, Tom Ward, Walmart’s senior vice president for customer product, said in a blog post on 11 November 2020. Cruise has reported that the electricity used to charge up its self-driving fleet comes entirely from renewable resources, which helps the retailer’s goal of curbing carbon emissions from its operations.
“Customers can place an order from their local store and have it delivered, contact-free, via one of Cruise’s all-electric self-driving cars,” Ward said. “Technology that has the potential to not only save customers time and money but also be helpful to the planet is technology we want to learn more about.”
The number of vehicles to be used and financial terms of the project were not immediately available. Walmart began working with self-driving company Waymo in the Phoenix area in 2018 (using its Pacifica Hybrid minivans, which are only partially powered by electricity).
The coronavirus slowed plans this year by robotaxi developers like Cruise and Waymo to expand autonomous rides to more customers but boosted efforts to use the technology for contactless deliveries and logistics operations. Waymo added its Via service, which ranges from picking up packages at UPS stores to hauling loads in semis, and Silicon Valley startup Nuro has continued to raise funds for its delivery bot business that’s been used in tests by Walmart, Kroger’s KR and CVS.
Artificial intelligence, machine learning, IoT, cloud-based platforms, and smart devices have all driven developers to think beyond the machine and focus more on its mobility. While connectivity ushers in a level of sophistication, it also provides the catalyst for one of the greatest threats to the modern world, cyberattacks.
As autonomous vehicles (AV) prepare to flood the market over the next five to 10 years, the biggest area of concern that manufacturers must work out is vehicle safety. The second is vehicle security. Only this time, the concerns come from the hacker inside the vehicle, not the thief outside. With the onslaught of cyberattacks that stack up each year, will the security and privacy of drivers be compromised on the road?
The endless Whac-A-Mole game played between cybersecurity experts and hackers has plagued the digital security industry for years. It stands to reason that AV hacks could become commonplace with AVs and self-driving trucks. These hacks could both endanger drivers while operating a vehicle and compromise their personal information, control and destination of the vehicle. How are manufacturers currently responding to imminent threats to safety?
Currently, there is zero regulation regarding AV cybersecurity. Until legislators have a better understanding of the technology and security threats facing autonomous vehicles, bipartisan efforts to enact cybersecurity laws will drag on. Until this time, the concern for in-vehicle cyber threats continues to grow. Both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) are putting steps into place to adopt regulation around autonomous vehicles. Furthermore, auto manufacturers and cybersecurity agencies will continue to make strides toward building a more secure car. In the meantime, consumer confidence in autonomous vehicles continues to be a challenge.
Red Sky Alliance is a Cyber Threat Analysis and Intelligence Service organization. For questions, comments or assistance, please contact the lab directly at 1-844-492-7225, or email@example.com.
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