Tag Archives: 3pl

Amazon has filed a patent for its drone delivery systems

Amazon teased consumers with drone delivery during a 2017 Super Bowl commercial, though the ad bore a disclaimer: “Prime Air is not available in some states (or any really). Yet.”

Back in December 2016, Amazon made its first successful customer delivery in a trial area in the United Kingdom; in March 2017, the online retail giant completed a test delivery at its invite-only MARS 2017 robotics conference in Palm Springs. Now that it has filed a series of patents for drone delivery systems, Amazon seems to be following through on promises that Prime Air will eventually become a reality.

An old joke says, “You don’t need a parachute to skydive. You only need one if you want to skydive twice.” This logic applies to dropping packages—which could contain any number of fragile products—from the air. Amazon’s latest approved patent reveals a design that incorporates a parachute directly into a package label, according to documents obtained from the U.S. Patent and Trade Office.

Using these labels, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)—or drones—could deploy packages from the air and let them drift safely to the ground. This would reduce delivery times by eliminating the need to land and take off. Packages could even potentially be dropped without the drone stopping, which makes it possible to use multiple types of UAVs instead of just those that can hover and land.

The patent also states that “different sized parachute canopies can be used for different sized shipping container’s descent appropriately to prevent damage to the contents of the shipping container,” suggesting that Amazon would scale the technology for a wide range of package sizes and weights. The patent also describes multiple ways UAVs might carry a parachute-labeled package, including mechanical arms, a suction system, magnets, and retractable shelves.

The retailer also received recent patents for a magnet-based delivery system and a coiled spring model, so it seems likely that the company will use a combination of many technologies to get drone packages on doorsteps.

Amazon continues to wait on Federal Aviation Administration approval before it can complete more widespread Prime Air distribution testing. This process will most likely take several more years, but there is little doubt that the company plans to drop its packages from the skies as soon as it is able.

Story by Jason McDowell @ inbound logistics

Senate Committee Advances Human Trafficking Prevention Legislation











WASHINGTON — Legislation meant to remove individuals involved in human trafficking from the trucking industry was easily approved by a Senate committee Aug. 2.

The bill sponsored by Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) would disqualify truck drivers from the industry if they are found to be involved in human trafficking.

Another bill was approved, as amended, and it would designate a human trafficking prevention coordinator, as well as expand the authorities of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s outreach and education program. Also under the bill, a 15-person advisory committee on human trafficking would be established at the U.S. Department of Transportation.

“Together, these two bills address the prevention and enforcement of human trafficking in the transportation sector and will continue the good work of many who fight to eliminate human trafficking on a daily basis,” Thune said.

Committee ranking Democrat Bill Nelson of Florida emphasized the severity of human trafficking, noting his home state ranked third for the number of cases reported last year.

“The two bills before us today aim to further these initiatives by elevating the issue at [DOT] and helping to prevent and deter human trafficking,” Nelson said.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), a co-sponsor, added the measures “should make a big difference.”

Senate floor managers have yet to indicate when the bills would be called up in the chamber.

Story by Eugene Mulero, Staff Report for Transport Topics

How Uber’s Technology Represents Progress for Trucking

Although trucking has a reputation as an industry that is conservative and slow to change, it actually is an early adopter of technology. CB radios were big with truckers long before they became popular with consumers. As international freight and logistics in all its forms – air, freight and rail – remains painfully offline, trucking has already hit its tech stride.

Transportation service provider YRC Worldwide, for example, is rapidly blending technology into its LTL, or less-than-truckload, hauling network, Justin Hall, the carrier’s customer service chief, said in recent industry remarks.

Both giant carriers and start-ups are deploying technology to reducing excess capacity and make trucking even more efficient. More than a baker’s dozen of “Uber-for-freight” start-ups were joined this year by Uber itself with a cloud-based, on-demand, full truck-load freight brokerage called Uber Freight.

This isn’t just a drive-by-night business. Freight tech start up Convoy – which has received seed funding from the founders of LinkedIn, eBay, Salesforce, Expedia and others – recently landed Unilever as a client, proving that the big boys are listening.

Even Amazon.com – whose founder Jeff Bezos also has invested in Convoy – has on-demand trucking aspirations.

Using technology to connect customers and truckers is far from a new idea.

U.S. domestic trucking has been shifting toward technology for nearly half a century. Truckers and customers used to coordinate loads through bulletin boards at truck stops. This was digitized when Dial-a-Truck, now called DAT, launched a telephone freight matching service in 1978, followed by an electronic version years later. Electronic load boards have since evolved into  $150-billion freight brokerage market with brokers leveraging sophisticated technology to manage both inbound and outbound shipments for clients.

Trucking in the United States has two key drivers – incredible infrastructure and outstanding technology. Together they helped lower the U.S.’s percentage of GDP spent on logistics to “only” 7.5 percent. That compares with around 18  percent in China and well over 20 percent in less developed countries.

In 2015, trucking revenue reached $726.4 billion, with 3.6 million trucks moving 10 billion tons of freight. That’s a lot of freight. But it can get more efficient. As a matter of fact, there are at least 10 on-demand freight companies that have billed themselves as an “Uber-for-freight”:

Story by Eytan Buchman