Tech 2.0 for Monday, December 2, 2013
Amazon.com says it's considering using drone aircraft for deliveries. The online retailer says it's working on its Prime Air project in its research and development labs. It says the idea is that the delivery system would be able to get purchases to customers in less than 30 minutes through the use of the unmanned aircraft. The project was first reported Sunday by CBS' "60 Minutes." But Amazon.com Inc. says it will take years to advance the needed technology and for the needed federal Aviation Administration rules and regulations to be created.
Early numbers indicate that online shopping is up by more than 20 percent today compared with the same time last year. The figures by IBM Benchmark were released at noon, Eastern time. They suggest that nearly a third of all online shopping traffic was done by way of mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving, is supposed to be the busiest day of the year for online shopping. Retailers failed to boost spending during the four-day holiday weekend. They had offered big discounts in early November, and several retailers opened stores on Thanksgiving Day. But the National Retail Federation estimates that spending fell for the first time ever — down 2.8 percent — during the four days that ended yesterday. The NRF's online arm says more than 4 out of 5 retailers were planning to offer deals specifically for Cyber Monday.
Swedish-based Volvo Car Group has joined the race to develop self-driving cars, saying it plans to build 100 such vehicles in a pilot project. The Chinese-owned automaker said Monday it will test its "autonomous" cars on 30 miles (50 kilometers) of selected roads in the Swedish city of Goteborg, starting in 2017. In what it called "the world's first large-scale autonomous driving pilot project," Volvo said the vehicle would assume all driving functions, though the driver "is expected to be available for occasional control." Parking would be fully automated, allowing the driver to leave the vehicle as it finds a vacant spot to park by itself. Autonomous driving is still a long way off for legal and technical reasons but increasingly possible by equipping cars with cameras and computers.