- Volkswagen Unveils First Driverless Robo-taxi
Volkswagen Group has unveiled a self-driving concept car, the Sedric, which can drive children to school, drop their parents in the offices, and then look independently for a parking space.
The vehicle, which provides an indication of how robo-taxis could operate in the future, can also collect pre-ordered shopping or meet the owner at the station or airport, according to an online journal, ARS Technica.
Presented last week at the Geneva auto show, one of the world’s most glamorous auto exhibitions, the automaker said the concept car gave a glimpse of the future of personal transportation.
The Sedric is a small driverless pod, similar in stature to those found at Heathrow Airport, London but with a greater level of autonomy, the Telegraph of London reports in its review of the car.
The Sedric is expected to waft through the urban landscape silently with the aid of electric motors.
The idea of developing fully autonomous vehicles that would offer greater comfort and convenience than current cars, while slashing the number of road deaths and truly democratising mobility gave birth to the Sedric, ARS Technica, said, in its report.
It said it was the first concept car built by the Volkswagen Group.
It quoted the car’s Chief Designer, Mr. Michael Mauer, as saying it was developed by Volkswagen Group’s Future Centre Europe in Potsdam and Volkswagen Group Research in Wolfsburg.
He said, “We are systematically focusing on our customers, their wishes and requirements for the mobility of the future.
“The Volkswagen Group Future Centres give us the opportunity to conceptualise and develop new ideas of mobile life.”
According to Volkswagen, Sedric will serve as either a shared mobility system operating worldwide or a vehicle from one of the group’s brands that might be owned by an individual.
The company also noted that despite much talk in recent years about future mobility ushering in new ownership models, many people would continue to desire their own automobile in the future.
Volkswagen said it aimed to make the Sedric very simple to operate, using a remote control called the Button: pressing it summons car and identifies the user when the car arrives.
Two wide doors on each side slide open to reveal an airy interior with sofa-style seats facing towards the centre.
No steering wheel
Sedric has no steering wheel, no pedals, and no conventional cockpit controls or instruments.
Volkswagen said this would permit “a completely new sense of well-being in the vehicle-a welcome home feeling.”
According to the reviewer, the front seats fold up to provide more floor area so the rear passengers can stretch out or to house luggage. Air quality is maintained using large bamboo charcoal air filters and a collection of air-purifying plants that sit in front of the rear windscreen.
It said, “Once inside, operation is based on voice commands: you just tell Sedric where you want to go and the route you will prefer to take. Sedric responds with information on the journey time and the current traffic situation.
“Passengers – since there’s no human driver, everyone is a passenger – can sit back and relax or can engage more fully with the journey through a windscreen that is in fact a transparent, high-resolution OLED display. This can provide augmented reality data or can be used as an entertainment centre.”
The Volkswagen’s Chief Digital Officer, Johann Jungwirth, said the company would become a leading mobility provider by 2025 and would “in part become a software and services company” in the process.
Volkswagen quoted an American computer scientist, Alan Kay, as saying, “People who are really serious about software should make their own hardware.” Jungwirth added that Volkswagen already had decades of experience with the hardware.
Interswitch is the Most Valuable African Startup
Interswitch, the leading payment processing company headquartered in Lagos, Nigeria, is Africa’s most valuable start-up at a US$ 1 billion valuation.
Founded in 2002, Interswitch uses switching infrastructure to connect different banks in Nigeria and powered banks’ ATM cards. Presently, the company has over 11,000 ATMs on its network.
In 2010, Helios Investment Partners bought two-thirds of the company and in the following year, Interswitch bought a 60 percent stake in Bankom in Uganda.
Interswitch owns Verve, Nigeria’s most used payment card, and accounted for 18 million of 25 million cards in circulation in Nigeria. The company also owns Quickteller and recently purchased VANSO, a mobile-focused technology provider to banks.
Like Interswitch, Stripe, the company that acquired Nigeria’s Paystack for over US$200 million, is the most valuable startup in the USA at over US$70 billion valuation.
Klarna, Nubank, Paytm and Grab leads in Europe, Latin America, India and Southeast Asia with valuations of US$10.65 billion, US$10 billion, US$16 billion and US$14 billion, respectively.
E-commerce Black Friday Sales Estimated to Surge by 40% to 10.2 Billion
The 2020 holiday shopping season will be unique, as the pandemic shifted consumer behavior from retail stores to online shopping. In response, many retailers moved their services online to not miss out on this year’s profits. Atlas VPN team decided to look into how e-commerce sales are set to perform in the upcoming long weekend.
Researchers predict that the US e-commerce revenue will exceed last year’s earnings by 49.5% on Thanksgiving day, totaling $6.18 billion in revenue. Black Friday is calculated to reach $10.2 billion in sales, exceeding last years numbers by 39.4%
Rachel Welch, COO of Atlas VPN, shares her tips on how to stay safe when shopping online during the holiday season:
“Watch out for too-good-to-be-true deals from unknown sellers, as cybercriminals will also expect to turn a profit during the holiday season, even though they are not selling anything, except maybe a bag full of disappointment.”
Finally, analysis shows that on the last day of the long and full of special offers Thanksgiving weekend, consumers will go all out to bring record sales for e-commerce businesses, adding up to $12.89 billion.
To look at these five days from a wider perspective, e-commerce companies can expect to earn around 39.72% more than they did last year.
Alibaba Merchants Sell $40B in First Half Hour of Singles Day 2020, More than 2019 Event Full Sales
Singles Day 2020 was a roaring success, cementing its position as the world’s biggest shopping holiday. Sales across Alibaba’s platforms during the event totaled $74.1 billion, up from $38 billion in 2019.
According to the research data analyzed and published by Stock Apps, within the first 30 minutes of the event, the gross merchandise volume (GMV) surpassed 2019’s full-event sales, reaching $40.87 billion.
Moreover, instead of live events, Alibaba had 400 company executives and 30 celebrities hosting livestreams. Based on a study by Coresight, the Chinese livestream market is set to rack in sales worth $125 billion in 2020, compared to $63 billion in 2019. The US livestream market is a small fraction of that, valued at $5 billion.
China’s Tech Heavyweights Lose $280 Billion in Market Cap
Alibaba Singles Day 2020 dwarfed other major shopping holidays as has been the trend in previous years.
According to Practical eCommerce, Amazon Prime Day 2020 sales totaled $10.4 billion up from $7.16 billion in 2019. Cyber Monday sales in the US amounted to $7.9 billion in 2020 according to Statista. Black Friday and Thanksgiving added $9.7 billion to the figure to make $17.6 billion for the weekend.
Similarly, in 2018, Singles Day sold $30.8 billion while Prime Day sold $4.19 billion and Thanksgiving weekend got $14.2 billion.
However, the 2020 Singles Day event came in the wake of Ant Group’s suspension of a $37 billion listing. The suspension resulted in a $76 billion drop in Alibaba’s market cap, as the tech giant owns a two-thirds stake in Ant Group. Moreover, China’s regulators released anti-trust draft rules prior to the event, aimed at controlling monopolistic behavior.
Following the release, Alibaba shares plunged by 9.8%, as JD.com shed off 9.2%. Tencent similarly saw a 7.39% drop and Xiaomi fell by 8.18%. For the five companies, there was a combined loss of $280 billion in market capitalization.
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