Google Drone-FAA Clearance; Tesla Unveils ‘Robotaxi’; Apple May Add USB Mouse to iPad Pro for Accessibility; Kohl’s Will Accept Amazon Returns in All Stores

Alphabet’s Google X Project Wing delivery drones have gotten FAA approval as an airline. Bloomberg.com reports that this gives them the legal authority to start dropping products to actual customers. Google plans to begin routine deliveries of small consumer items in a couple of rural communities in Virginia in the next few months. The Wing unit is just qualified as a small airline, should would have to get further certification if they ever want to operate over longer ranges…which seems unlikely at this point for battery powered drones. The Wing aircraft is a hybrid between a helicopter and a plane, so it can vertically take off and land, but flies horizontally at a higher speed…and it can lower items into people’s yards via tether while hovering.

Elon Musk claims there will be a million ‘Robotaxi’ Teslas on the roads as soon as next year. According to electrek.co, the CEO also claims they have developed the ‘best chip in the world’ to power the autonomous fleet. Those chips started going into Model 3s days ago, and have been installed in Model S and Model X Teslas for a couple months now. Although Google claims vastly more miles in their autonomous fleet, Musk points out that Tesla has the data from every Tesla on the road, which trumps that. Musk claims that Tesla owners will be able to make their cars available for Uber-type use, but with no driver…and will be able to make around $200,000 with their Tesla over the life of a, say, $50,000 car.

Apple could be looking at adding USB mouse support as an accessibility feature. Macrumors.com says since it has a USB-C port, this could open up use of the tablet to people with physical impairments like motor impairments. Apple has had their Assistive Touch feature which works with joysticks or trackballs, but the mouse would eliminate the need for specialized hardware or adapters to use the iOS tablet. The earliest the feature might make it into the wild will be iOS 13, which will be rolled out in June at WWDC…but it could be delayed.

It may seem like strange bedfellows, but Kohl’s will begin taking Amazon returns in all of its 1150 stores starting in July. According to geekwire.com, the retailers started a pilot program with 10 stores in 2017, and jumped that to 100 last year. Kohl’s should get more traffic to its brick and mortar locations in the deal, and Amazon picks up the easier return option without having to fork out cash for more real estate. You can return using Amazon lockers, of course, but the Kohl’s angle may particularly appeal to women shoppers…and Kohl’s has no doubt considered seeing its impulse purchases go up via the deal.

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