Elon Musk is ‘Semi’ serious about powering the supply chain

September 7, 2022 | By Anthony Venutolo

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It's a great time to be an EV enthusiast. With exciting news coming from every corner of the car market and a buying public that seems more receptive than ever, we're definitely in the throes of an exciting tech shift in the auto world.

So enter Tesla. Again. Six years after announcing plans for a heavy-duty truck named Semi, CEO Elon Musk tweeted last month that it will arrive later this year. InsideEVs reported that Tesla is hiring Semi service technicians, a sign that delivery prep is ramping up. The company has also updated its website with information about the electric truck as well as new images and videos. 

InsideEVs also reports that Pepsi, DHL and Walmart are just a few of the businesses that have placed orders for Tesla Semis. “Transportation is about 10% of our overall gas emissions so it’s important and we’re working on different solutions,” Pepsi CEO Ramon Laguarta told CNBC last November. “We replace our fleet regularly, every 10 years more or less ... and we’re already starting to buy electric trucks actually from Tesla."

The base $150,000 Tesla Semi has a massive 600 kilowatt-hour battery and a range of 300 miles. For an additional $30,000, a 1,000 kWh pack delivers a 500-mile range. More impressive still is that the Semi will reportedly charge from zero to 70% in as little as 30 minutes. But the real icing? Tesla asserts that each Semi will save fleet operators $200,000 in fuel over the course of the first three years of ownership.

After several delays, the sleek truck is slated to arrive just in time for fleet managers to take advantage of the recently-passed Inflation Reduction Act, which contains significant incentives for commercial electric vehicles.

From the motherboard to the boardroom

A virtual robot CEO is now a reality. A Chinese video game firm, NetDragon Websoft, has appointed the AI-powered female robot known as "Ms. Tang Yu" as chief executive of its flagship subsidiary.

One of the most popular online game developers in China, NetDragon was founded in 1999 but in recent years has turned to online education to build a massive global learning community. In the West, however, the company is perhaps best known for its ownership of Neopets, a virtual reality game from the early 2000s that's had a recent resurgence.

According to an official company statement, Yu will act as a real-time data hub and analytical tool, supporting daily decision-making and risk management.

NetDragon Chairman Dejian Liu said the company believes AI is the future of corporate management. "Our employment of Ms. Tang Yu demonstrates our determination to really embrace the use of AI to alter the way we operate our business," he said in the statement.

Determining what is best for an entire firm is admittedly a significant step for AI systems. Nevertheless, NetDragon says that it’s prepared to follow the guidance of its AI CEO, and the company will expand its algorithms to build an open, interactive and highly transparent management model.

The result? As the company gradually transforms into a metaverse-based working community, it will hopefully enable NetDragon to attract a much broader talent pool worldwide and put it in a position to achieve bigger goals, Liu said.

A robot CEO … Somewhere, Stanley Kubrick must be smiling.

Robots arrive at Tokyo’s conbini

And from the C-suite to the corner store: The Associated Press reports that a robot named TX SCARA is generating quite the buzz within Tokyo’s FamilyMart “conbini.” Think of the conbini as a convenience store, open around the clock, selling thousands of products but typically employing only a small number of people.

When they’re not working the register, employees are expected to keep the beverage shelves stocked, usually located in the rear of the store. It’s not a task they relish, as the refrigerated area makes it uncomfortable to linger for long periods.

That's where TX SCARA comes in. The small robot with a clip-like arm can restock up to 1,000 bottles and cans each day using artificial intelligence that can recognize when and where products need to placed, according to Tokyo-based Telexistence, which developed the robot.

“We want to automate all the repetitive jobs and boring jobs done by humans," CEO Jin Tomioka told the AP.

What's under the hood? The robots use Nvidia GPU-accelerated AI technologies as well as Microsoft’s Azure cloud infrastructure.

Japan is suffering a labor shortage, a problem that may worsen over the next few years due to its aging population, and TX SCARA may help fill the void.

FamilyMart Executive Officer Tomohiro Kano referred to the Japanese expression “seeking even a cat’s paw for help” to illustrate how dire the staffing problem may become. “At FamilyMart, we are seeking a robot’s arm for help,” he told the AP.  By the end of August, Telexistence had placed robots in 300 of Japan’s 16,000 FamilyMart stores.

Anthony Venutolo, Manager, Global Communications