Amazon & Retailer Store Automation; Saudi Prince in the Valley; Cloudflare’s Privacy DNS; Tesla Updates Model 3 Autopilot

Now that Amazon has opened Amazon Go, their checkout-less brick and mortar store, retailers are going into overdrive to automate stores. Some are turning to robots to help assess and maintain stock, but a big push is to eliminate the check out wait, which frustrates shoppers. Of course, that will make it quicker and more convenient for shoppers, who can just scan items with their phone apps, to have the tab hit their debit or credit card upon leaving, but it also endangers between 30 and 50% of the world’’s retail jobs if auto check out were to be fully implemented….that’s according to the World Economic Forum. Another issue to deal with is protection of customer data. There was another reminder of this over the weekend, as Lord and Taylor and Saks disclosed that data for 5 million customers’ cards had been stolen.

What could possibly close one of the toniest hotels in Silicon Valley for a week? The official story says the need to accommodate ‘a large VIP delegation,’ at the request of the State Department. Most observers say is is very likely the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammad Bin Salman, and his entourage. Through the 7th, neither rooms nor any of the Four Seasons Silicon Valley facilities will be available. In New York last week, a $200 billion memo of understanding was signed with the Prince and SoftBank for investment in solar power in the Saudi Kingdom. Will a giant deal come out of the visit to the Valley this week? Stay tuned, as they say. F

Cloudflare launched what it calls a ‘privacy first’ consumer DNS service yesterday, which they promise will speed up your internet connection, and perhaps more importantly, keep it private. It’s Https://1.1.1.1, and Cloudflare claims it is ‘the internet’s fastest, privacy-first consumer DNS service.  DNS- or Domain Name System- services work behind the scenes to convert the google.com name and all the rest into a real IP address that the routers and switchers of the internet can understand.

Tesla has addressed one of the biggest knocks to the Model 3…the autopilot controls. The automaker has moved the controls to the steering wheel, so drivers don’t have to take eyes off the road for a glance over to the center display, and reach across. With just a software update, however, drivers can now adjust the Autopilot’s cruise speed and follow distance via the steering wheel scroll buttons. The autopilot system can still be accessed through the central display if a driver prefers. The Model 3 is even more software intensive than the bigger Model S. 


Tesla Working on Own Self-Driving aI Chip; Google Acquires People and IP Rights from HTC; Nest Bows Smart Doorbell and Security System

Tesla is teaming up with AMD to make its own AI processor for their self-driving systems. Techcrunch.com notes that the e-car maker already has a relationship with Nvidia, whose GPUs run its Autopilot system. The new in-house designed chip could reduce or eliminate relying on third party AI software. Tesla reportedly already has pre-production samples in hand. The autopilot program at Tesla is run by Jim Keller, who spent much of his career at AMD and then Apple…he helped design the Apple A4 and A5 chips.

Google has struck a deal with HTC to acquire intellectual property rights (non-exclusively) and certain employees for 1.1 billion. The employees were ones already working with Google to develop Pixel smartphones. Google will continue to partner with HTC on smartphones and other hardware, including virtual reality.

Nest showed off new product lines in San Francisco yesterday. Cnet.com reports they include the Nest Hello…a connected doorbell with cam, speaker and microphone. The entryway gadget wasn’t priced, but will be out 1st quarter of next year. Also debuting was the Nest Secure security system. It has a keypad and motion sensor, and a key fob they call the Nest Tag. Systems start at $500, and roll out in November. A new iteration of cam was also revealed, the Nest Cam IQ…which comes in outdoor and indoor versions. The indoor model will have Google Assistant built in. The cam is $255.


Tentative Date for Tesla Autopilot Update; Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Apology & Recall; Clarkson Netflix Show November Start

Elon Musk has announced that Tesla hopes to begin a worldwide rollout of V. 8.0 of their Autopilot software next Wednesday. Bgr.com says this is barring any last minute issues popping up. The revised version will utilize radar a lot more than previous versions…which primarily used it to supplement cameras. The update will be pushed out over the air as in the past.

Samsung’s president has issued a video apology for the fires and explosions of Galaxy Note 7s. According to 9to5google.com, they have replaced 130,000 of the 2.5 million bad handsets so far. They have implored people to power present devices down until they can be replaced. Since the Consumer Product Safety Commission stepped in, Samsung has said that replacement phones will be available no later than September 21st, and now you can take yours in and get your money back, then just go buy the new one when they are available.

The new car show starring the original Top Gear guys: Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond, will premiere on Amazon November 18th. It’s called The Grand Tour. If you’re a Prime member, you can watch it free, or pay a monthly video subscription of 8 bucks a month.


Big Tesla Auto Pilot Update Coming; 7 Inch Google Tablet by 4th Quarter; Apple Car Division Restructures; Amazon Continues Retail Push

A major upgrade will be pushed out to Autopilot in Tesla Model S vehicles in the next week or two. TechCrunch.com reports that the so-called Version 8.0 will have updates to signal processing that will let the autopilot rely more on the radar sensors, without confirming data from cameras. According to Elon Musk, the upgrade should see “any thing that’s metallic, anything that’s large and dense,” and then brake the vehicle, “as long as it’s not large and fluffy.” So short of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man in the lanes, it should brake, and even guide the car off to an exit.

Google may roll out a 7 inch Android tablet made by Huawei before the end of the year. According to theverge.com, it will have 4 gigs of RAM. Considering that they don’t seem to be sticking with Nexus for the phones, it will probably have a different name as well. We could well get more details at Google’s rumored event on October 4th.

Apple’s Project Titan has laid off dozens of staffers. Macrumors.com says that since Bob Mansfield left, Apple seems to be pivoting towards autonomous driving systems instead of going for building an entire Apple car. The division still has between 500 and 1000 employees working on the project.

In addition to the brick and mortar book store Amazon opened last year, it looks like now the online giant will open over 100 pop up stores in malls around the country. Businessinsider.com points out that these much smaller locations will operate mainly to showcase Amazon hardware like Kindles, Fire TV, and the Echo speakers — as well as accessories. The real goal is to drive more traffic to Amazon’s online store. There are already 21 Amazon pop up stores in 12 states.