Today’s Pickup: Aerial vs. ground autonomous transportation

Bell Helicopter

Good day,

During a panel discussion last week at CES 2020, Scott Drennan, vice president of innovation at Bell Textron, was asked which mode of transportation would win the autonomy race — aerial or ground. “In the air, I think we can win,” he said. 

There is “more space up there,” Drennan said. “You can do it more cleanly in the air.”

But as Drennand went on to explain, aerial vs. ground transportation is something of a false dichotomy. On the CES exhibition floor in Las Vegas, Bell not only showcased its Bell Nexus air taxi but also its Autonomous Pod Transport system designed to move people on the ground. Both were part of a broader smart city display that looked beyond the aircraft to demonstrate how to integrate mobility as a service into communities.

There’s more to consider. Beyond the aerial and the ground and the data components is the physical infrastructure, Drennan said. For example, you don’t want a maintenance hub to be 25 miles from the landing strip. In the end, autonomy is “all about the vehicle, but there is also a digital and physical infrastructure that is going to play a big role,” he said.


“I think it’s tough. They’re on their heels. … They barely make money in their online store and Target, Walmart are growing faster.”

Ron Johnson, the former Apple Store head, in an interview with Yahoo Finance’s Brian Sozzi on what the next decade looks like for Amazon.

Did you know?

Rep. John Garamendi, D-Calif., has introduced a bill that prohibits the transport of crude oil via rail if the crude oil’s Reid vapor pressure exceeds 9.5 pounds per square inch.

Via FreightWaves

In other news

Indonesian logistics startup Waresix nets $11 million Series A extension

Waresix connects small trucking companies with corporations by offering solutions from order matching to planning, routing and scheduling. (DEALSTREETASIA)

H&M uses AI to make supply chain more sustainable

Around 270 employees are working to apply artificial intelligence to different segments of the company. (SupplyChainDive)

Seattle council member proposes Amazon tax

Kshama Sawant is looking for $200 million to $500 million from large corporations to help pay for affordable housing programs in the city. (King5)

Tesla surges to $500 a share

Tesla made history earlier this week — with a little help from its shareholders. (MercuryNews)

Final thoughts,

BYD (Build Your Dreams) is the latest truck maker to throw its weight behind a California  zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty truck mandate. North America President Stella Li is joining 10 other executives in the U.S. commercial vehicle industry in calling on California Gov. Gavin Newsom to commit to a multiyear investment strategy that accelerates the adoption of zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty vehicles.

In the letter to Newsom, the executives say California has not kept up with the demand for zero-emission vehicles, noting that the 2019 vouchers for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles and off-road equipment ran out midyear and the vouchers for 2020 are already reserved. Li and the other executives are asking for at least 13.5% of the state’s total Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund for fiscal years 2020-21 through 2025-26 for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles and off-road equipment.

Hammer down, everyone!