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Robots bearing snacks are about to overrun college campuses

first_img Amazon’s drones and robots want to take over your deliveries Now playing: Watch this: Mobile 0 Post a comment 10 Photos 1:32center_img Tags Share your voice Starships bots are coming to University of Pittsburgh’s campus, home of the Panthers, on Tuesday. Starship Starship Technologies launched a new service earlier this year to deliver food and groceries at two US universities using self-driving robots. It’s now planning on doing a whole lot more.The San Francisco-based startup announced Tuesday it will expand this service to 100 universities over the next two years, thanks to an infusion of $40 million in new funding. The expansion, which will focus mostly on the US, starts with the University of Pittsburgh on Tuesday. Purdue University is coming in early September. George Mason University and Northern Arizona University came online in January and March, respectively.”There’s going to be a whole generation of students that grow up tapping on their phone when they’re hungry and a robot brings food to them,” Lex Bayer, Starship’s CEO, said in an interview.Starship is a part of the burgeoning delivery robots industry, which has already attracted corporate giants Amazon, Google and UPS, as well as a constellation of smaller players including Postmates and Workhorse. These companies see an opportunity to bring their customers things they need much faster, more cheaply or with far more convenience than current delivery options offer. And they could in some cases extend delivery times to nearly every hour of the day. These companies will, though, need to develop their services amid growing concerns about bots and automation stealing humans’ jobs.amazon-scout-robotAmazon’s similarly shaped Scout robots are getting a test run in Washington state. Ben Fox Rubin/CNET Amazon is busy working on flying drones to deliver consumer goods to customers in 15 minutes through its Prime Air program and has already started a pilot in Britain. It’s also developed the Scout autonomous sidewalk robots, which look like and work similarly to Starship’s bots. It’s testing these deliveries in Washington state. UPS, meanwhile, is focusing on helping business customers, including efforts to bring flying drones to hospital campuses to speed the completion of lab tests.Starship, too, has found a niche in this new market, saying it’s receiving heavy demand from college campuses for its squat, battery-powered, six-wheeled robots. Bayer explained that colleges aren’t so easily served by typical food delivery apps like Uber Eats or DoorDash, since there’s usually little available parking and campuses often feel like mazes to outsiders. While those features make it hard for human delivery workers, they’re no concern for Starship’s autonomous bots, which are preloaded with detailed 3D maps of campuses before they ever start roaming around and which don’t need to park anywhere.The Starship bots bring breakfast, late-night snacks and plenty else in between, letting students buy food from local restaurants through its app. The bots then bring orders to wherever customers are on campus for $1.99 per shipment. Starship also gets paid by the restaurant for making each delivery.Starship typically uses 25 to 50 robots per campus, and they roam around seven days a week, rain or shine, from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m.  Bayer said they don’t displace workers’ jobs, since deliveries often don’t exist on campuses. He said the company hires student workers to maintain, monitor and recharge the bots.mobile0c9a66-assets-img-media-upsdrone20Demonstrating UPS drone deliveries at a hospital campus. UPS Bayer added that the bots are safe on sidewalks, driving at 4 mph and bristling with 10 cameras, radar, ultrasound sensors and GPS, in addition to sophisticated computer vision and neural networks to process what they see. These bots have already completed 100,000 deliveries and driven 300,000 miles, Bayer said. Even though the Starship bots weigh just 50 pounds, he said thefts of the bots don’t happen since they include alarms and are monitored by humans. Also, a bot’s payload of food remains locked inside until a student opens it using the app.Like just about any tech CEO, Bayer isn’t content just making the Starship bot ubiquitous on college campuses from coast to coast, with a goal of eventually serving 1 million students. The company has already started package deliveries in neighborhoods and parts deliveries on business and industrial campuses.”Our model and vision is to move everything around in neighborhoods and cities,” Bayer said. Tertill is a robot weed trimmer that’s like a Roomba for your garden E-commerce Bots Robotslast_img read more


Railway Budget 2013 Unplugged Pawan Bansals First and Last Choice

first_imgOpinions on Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal’s Railway Budget 2013 may differ from person to person, but on a closer look, he has presented a good budget considering the current financial situation of the Indian Railways and the forthcoming elections next year.In fact, Bansal has taken a few praiseworthy steps towards narrowing down the deficit gap in the struggling Indian Railways without disappointing the common man and at the same time appeasing the industrial sector.Many may questioned if Bansal’s Railway Budget 2013 was too financial discipline and avoided taking bold steps, including hiking passenger fare, keeping in mind next year’s elections and not to disappoint the public who were irked by rail fare hike last month. He is also been criticized for introducing lesser new rail lines compared to previous years.But on a closer look, Bansal has cleverly hiked the passenger fares, though indirectly, and would do so in the future though he abstained from increasing the figure in his budget. The public will indirectly pay more through ticket cancellation, clerkage and tatkal charges. Supplementary charges for super fast trains have also been marginally raised. The cost of travelling on train too may go up as the railway minister hinted a possible annual hike of 5 percent for various kinds of services.The public may also have to pay more in the future depending on the flatuating fuel price as the government is implementing Fuel Adjustment Component (FAC) linked revision for freight tariff from 1st April 2013. The railway minister said that the move could increase the cost of commodities by 4-8 paise per kg but additional revenue to the Railways will be around ₹4,200 crore.Bansal’s Railway Budget has many positive things that his predecesors didn’t think of. The announcement that a loan of ₹3,000 cr taken in 2011-12 has been fully repaid along with interest should come as a welcomed move. He also promised that the Railways will make profit by the end of the financial year.He announced the Indian Railways will set up an exclusive Centralized Training Institute at Secunderabad – Indian Railways Institute of Financial Management (IRIFM), indicating his long-term plan for the Railways.Bansal’s Railway Budget will also please investors, as much modernization projects of the railways will be done through Public-Private Partnership (PPP) route. Target of ₹1000 crore each fixed for Rail Land Development Authority and IR Station Development Corporation to be raised through PPP in 2013-14. Of the planned investment of Rs 63,363 crore for the financial year, ₹6000 crore will be under PPP mode.Many may not be happy for not introducing many new rail lines as expected but several measures announced in the budget like – safety, cleanliness and hygiene, special provision for women passengers and differently abled persons, introduction of Train Protection Warning System on Automatic Signalling Systems, elimination of 10797 level crossings to curb accidents, introduction of Self Propelled Accident Relief Trains, introduction of next-gen e-ticketing system that can handle 7200 tickets per minute as against the present 2000, and several others are necessary and will help the Railways in the long run.Bansal’s Railway Budget 2013 should be considered as a clever one.last_img read more


SBI bad loans balloon postmerger provisioning likely to spike

first_imgState Bank of India headquarters in Mumbai on March 14, 2016Reuters fileState Bank of India’s bad loans have ballooned approximately 50 percent in the span of a year and those of its five associate banks by 170 percent.The bank will likely have to increase its provisioning for bad loans — setting aside money to partly cover the non-performing assets (NPAs) following its merger with five subsidiaries.SBI, which had a provisioning coverage ratio of about 59 percent, said that after the merger it will revisit the NPAs and provide accordingly.”Depending on the age of NPAs, we provide provisioning as per the norms. Hundred per cent provisioning is not a practice in the industry,” SBI managing director Dinesh Kumar Khara told IANS.SBI’s gross NPAs in December 2016 were at Rs 1.08 lakh crore, an increase by 48.6 percent from Rs 72,792 crore in the third quarter FY16. The bank’s net NPAs rose by 52.6 percent during the same period.SBI’s five associate banks reported a 172.8 percent increase in gross NPAs at Rs 55,164 crore in December 2016, as compared to Rs 20,218 in the same period in 2015-16. The net NPAs of these rose by 218.7 percent in the same period.The five associate banks with which SBI merged on April 1 were: SBBJ (State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur), SBM (State Bank of Mysore), SBT (State Bank of Travancore), SBP (State Bank of Patiala), and SBH (State Bank of Hyderabad).The Bharatiya Mahila Bank, which is not an SBI subsidiary, was also merged with it on the same day.The combined gross NPAs of SBI and its five associate banks as on December 31, 2016, stood at Rs 1.6 lakh crore or 8.70 percent of the total assets, while the net NPAs were at 5.33 percent.”As far as the corporate books of associate banks are concerned, we started converging the NPA books of corporates from September quarter; so I don’t envisage any surprises on that,” Khara said.The Reserve Bank of India had asked the banks to clean up their balance sheets and had given a deadline of March 31 for asset quality review. Kumar said that SBI has been continuously declaring NPAs; so there will not be any extraordinary rise in the fourth quarter of 2016-17.SBI Managing Director Rajnish Kumar told IANS, “We have been declaring NPAs from time to time. I don’t expect any extraordinary hike in NPAs. The formation of NPAs has slowed, that is the fact, though we are still not out of the woods as of now.”From time to time there are meetings at the level of the government or Indian Banks’ Association to find an acceptable solution as the recognition of NPAs has happened in the last two years, Kumar said.”All have realised the problem and are trying to work together to find a solution that is acceptable to all. NPA problem is (because of) corporates, or rather mid-corporates,” he added.He said that the NPAs would get reduced if the economy grows at a fast pace and profitability of stressed sectors sees an improvement.”For resolution of NPAs, the profitability of corporates should increase. For example, the steel sector has now suddenly started showing up, because there is an improvement in the profit margins. It is because of the pressure on the margins that the debt becomes non-sustainable. But if EBIDTA (earnings before interest, depreciation, taxes and amortisation) margins improve, synergy improves, problem would at least be partly solved,” Kumar said.Khara, however, said that the idea of bad bank could be considered, not as a repository of bad assets, but with the aim to turnaround these assets.”There are some insolvency professionals coming in. But by the time the ecosystem gets created and starts delivering… it is still some time away. That kind of vehicle to identify such assets which can be turned around is needed,” he said.SBI has committees for NPAs depending on the size of the loans. There is also a committee under the bank chairperson which looks after stressed assets worth Rs 500 crore or more. Similarly, there are committees that regularly review NPAs and decide on the future course of action.After the merger, SBI, with a customer base of 450 million, has about a quarter of all outstanding loans of the banking sector.last_img read more


Kolkata mayor announces stipend for Hindu priests who do last rites

first_imgThe Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) announced a stipend for Hindu priests across Kolkata on Tuesday. The Kolkata mayor, Firhad Hakim in his announcement at Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) said that as many as 49 Hindu priests working in seven burning ghats in Kolkata will be given a stipend of Rs.380 per case of death. This Rs.380 per case will be for performing last rites for each of the deceased person. “There are certain Hindu priests who only conducted last rites. They had no fixed stipend and would depend on whatever the deceased’s family would offer.So on per case basis, we will provide Rs.380 to them,” said Hakim. Also Read – Rs 13,000 crore investment to provide 2 lakh jobs: MamataHowever, this scheme will only be applicable for those residing in Kolkata and not cover those residing in other parts of Bengal. On being asked whether KMC can roll out any new schemes during the election period while the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) is in place, Hakim said, “The scheme was decided much earlier than the elections, but the announcement was made today.” Interestingly, when the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress government came to power in 2011, it announced a monthly stipend of Rs.2000 for each of the Muslim clerics across the state. The announcement faced a major backlash as opposition alleged that the government and the party – Trinamool Congress was trying to appease the minority community through this scheme.(With input from DNA)last_img read more


Google announces updates to Chrome DevTools in Chrome 71

first_imgThe Google Chrome team announced new updates and changes to the Chrome DevTools in Chrome 71, today.  The latest update explores features such as hovering over a Live Expression to highlight the DOM node, storing DOM nodes as global variables, Initiator and priority information in HAR imports and exports, and Picture-in-Picture breakpoints among others. Let’s discuss these features in the latest update to DevTools in Chrome 71. Hovering over Live Expression to highlight DOM node Now when an Expression evaluates to a DOM node, hovering over the Live Expression will result in highlighted DOM node in the viewport. Storing DOM nodes as global variables You can now store DOM nodes as a global variable. All you need to do is run an expression in the console that evaluates to a node. Then right-click the result and select Store as the global variable. Alternatively, you can also right-click the node in the DOM Tree and then select Store as a global variable. Initiator and priority information available in HAR imports and exports DevTools now comprises initiator and priority information in the HAR file on exporting a HAR file. Once done importing the HAR files back into DevTools, the Initiator and Priority columns gets populated. The _initiator field offers information behind the cause of the requested resource. The _priority field states the priority level that the browser assigned to the resource. Accessing Command Menu from the Main Menu Command Menu provides a fast way to access DevTools panels, tabs, and features. Now, you can open the Command Menu directly from the Main Menu. Click the main button on the main menu and select Run command. “Add to homescreen” now called “Trigger beforeinstallprompt” There’s an Add to homescreen button on the Manifest tab which is renamed to Trigger beforeinstallprompt as it is more semantically accurate. For more information, check out the official update notes. Read Next Chrome 69 privacy issues: automatic sign-ins and retained cookies; Chrome 70 to correct these Google announces Chrome 67 packed with powerful APIs, password-free logins, PWA support, and more Google Chrome’s 10th birthday brings in a new Chrome 69last_img read more