Uber and Nvidia Team Up on Self-Driving Cars

Uber announced that the ridesharing company has partnered with Nvidia for further development of the AI computing system in its fleet of self-driving vehicles. Speaking at the opening press conference of CES 2018, Nvidia founder and CEO Jensen Huang said the collaboration utilizes Nvidia technology for Uber Advanced Technologies Group’s fleets of self-driving cars and freight trucks, running AI algorithms that enable vehicles to perceive the world, predict what will happen next and quickly choose the best course of action, even in complex environments.

“The future of transportation will be transformed by mobility services. Convenient, affordable mobility-as-a-service will reshape cities and society, and help support the billion-person increase in the world’s population over the next decade,” said Huang. “Autonomous vehicles are the critical technology to making mobility services pervasive.”

Uber began working on self-driving technology in early 2015, and launched the first city trials in Pittsburgh, in fall 2016, followed by a second pilot in Phoenix, starting in early 2017. Over this period, self-driving Ubers have completed more than 50,000 passenger trips and have logged more than 2 million autonomous miles.

Uber’s use of Nvidia technology reflects the reality that the computational requirements of self-driving vehicles are enormous. Self-driving cars and trucks must perceive the world through high-resolution, 360-degree surround cameras and lidars; localize the vehicle within centimeter accuracy; detect and track other vehicles and people; and plan a safe, comfortable path to the destination. All this processing must be done with multiple levels of redundancy to ensure safety. The computing demands of driverless vehicles are easily 50 to 100 times more intensive than the most advanced cars today.

Uber began using Nvidia GPU computing technology in its first test fleet of Volvo XC90 SUVs, and currently uses high-performance NVIDIA processors to run deep neural networks in both its self-driving ride-hailing cars and self-driving freight trucks. The development pace of the Uber fleet has accelerated dramatically, with the last million autonomous miles being driven in just 100 days.

Target Ditching Instacart for Shipt

After Target acquired same-day delivery brand Shipt for $550 million in December, the Minneapolis-based retail giant is reportedly dropping its previous delivery partnership with Instacart, according to a story published the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Since partnering up in 2015, Target has offered same-day Instacart deliveries in the Minneapolis/ St. Paul, Chicago and San Francisco markets. The article quoted Target spokesman Eddie Baeb who said there is no timeline for officially ending the partnership. Citing a source familiar with the matter, the story included the nugget that those three Target markets “account for less than 1 percent of Instacart’s entire volume.”

In announcing the Shipt partnership, Target said the majority of Target stores will offer the service before the 2018 holiday season. Once launched, the partnership will offer same-day delivery of groceries, home goods, electronics and other products, with a goal of including all major product categories by the end of 2019.

Founded in 2014 in Birmingham, Alabama, Shipt is a membership-based grocery marketplace and same-day delivery platform. The service leverages a network of more than 20,000 personal shoppers in more than 72 markets.

Grubhub Now Delivers White Castle (Just Not On A White Horse)

In hopes that maybe, just maybe, there are people jonesing for Crave Cases who are unwilling to leave their house to get them, White Castle and Grubhub have announced a partnership to deliver the famous mini-sliders from more than 120 U.S. White Castle restaurants.

Online ordering and delivery are currently available from Grubhub at more than 75 White Castle locations, including New York City, Chicago, St. Louis, Indianapolis and Detroit. Throughout January, Grubhub will bring delivery to an additional 45 additional White Castle locations.

To celebrate the arrival of Grubhub delivery from White Castle, the companies will deliver a Super Bowl meal via White Castle’s Crave Mobile food truck to one lucky winner during the game on February 4, 2018.

As the market leader and only public company in the delivery space, the latest partnership comes on the heels of momentum for Grubhub. In recent months, Grubhub has worked to provide delivery with national brands such as The Cheesecake Factory and BJ’s, while also announcing strategic partnerships with IHG Hotels and Yelp.

Restaurant Revolution Technologies a Third Front in Delivery Wars

Washington-based Restaurant Revolution Technologies is joining the fray to provide restaurants with yet another option to reach hungry consumers with as little friction (and human effort) as possible.

Previously branded as RRT, the newly appended Revolution is an omni-channel software-as-a-service ordering software suite for restaurants that allows restaurants to expand their off-premise ordering while maintaining customer data that’s proving to be increasingly valuable to restaurants.

Rich Earle, the company’s director of marketing, said off-premise restaurant ordering is currently 40 percent of the annual, $550 billion U.S. restaurant market with nowhere to go but up. “There’s no bigger trend within the industry, and a lot of that is driven by younger generations,” he added.

In describing the brand’s platform, Earle said Revolution integrates directly with existing point-of-sale systems to make delivery operations a more seamless process with fewer opportunities for human error. In addition, allowing restaurant brands to maintain control of customer data, he said, is Revolution’s primary claim to fame—as well as the option to improve delivery-specific economics compared with outsourcing to third-party delivery providers.

In addition to its rebranding, the company announced completing a Series B round of financing, which brings its total funding to date up to $23.5 million—yet another example of the investment community’s interest in getting a chunk of the profits as off-premise delivery continues to expand.

“Revolution continues to evolve as a powerful innovator of off-premise technology and services for restaurants in a time when restaurant traffic is migrating from dining-in to off-premise—in particular online ordering and delivery,” said CEO Brad Duea in a release announcing the latest financing.

With New App, 7-Eleven Joins the Delivery Game
Convenience-store chain 7-Eleven is testing delivery and in-store pickup ordering at select Dallas stores with its new 7-ElevenNOW smartphone app. Currently being tested in 10 downtown and uptown stores, 7-ElevenNOW is expected to roll out to other U.S. locations in 2018 as part of a “significant digital transformation,” according to the company. Customers can opt for direct delivery to their location or pick up their prepared order at a participating store. The company hasn’t named a delivery service partner, saying only that orders will be directed to a “courier service,” and customers pay for both delivery and pickup via the app. As part of its digital focus, the company also recently expanded its 7Rewards app-based customer loyalty program and launched 7-Eleven Bot on Facebook Messenger.