Apr 27, 2021

Bitcoin among factors for Tesla’s record quarterly profits

autonomousvehicles
electricvehicles
Automotive
Bitcoin
William Smith
2 min
Tesla's announcement saw revenues and profits up, with its diversification into bitcoin investing showing its status as more of a tech than car company
Tesla's announcement saw revenues and profits up, with its diversification into bitcoin investing showing its status as more of a tech than car company...

US electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla has announced its results for the first quarter of 2021.

Highlights of the announcement included increased quarterly profits of $438mn, compared to $16mn last year., as well as revenues of $10.4bn - up from $6bn last year.

Tesla’s bitcoin bet

The revenue increase was not only due to increased sales, but also stemmed from its highly publicised investment in Bitcoin, with the company having recently introduced measures to allow payments in the cryptocurrency.

In a call to investors, Zachary Kirkhorn, Chief Financial Officer, said: “Tesla did invest $1.5 billion into bitcoin in Q1, and then we subsequently sold a 10% stake in that. We also allow customers to make vehicle deposits and final vehicle purchases using bitcoin.”

Car deliveries, meanwhile, reached 184,800, with 180,338 produced. “We are encouraged by the strong reception of the Model Y in China and are quickly progressing to full production capacity,” the company said. “The new Model S and Model X have also been exceptionally well received, with the new equipment installed and tested in Q1 and we are in the early stages of ramping production.”

The positive news comes after recent negative headlines for Tesla, after a fatal crash in Texas that resulted in the deaths of two men, with the company’s Autopilot feature initially blamed, something which the company denies was enabled.

Automotive or tech firm?

The company is currently valued at around $700bn, easily making it the world’s most valuable car company. Its meteoric rise has led many to ask whether it is even truly an automotive manufacturer, or is rather a tech company. Indeed, CEO Elon Musk said in the earnings call: “I think long term, people will think of Tesla as much as an AI robotics company as we are a car company or an energy company. I think we are developing one of the strongest hardware and software AI teams in the world. Certainly, we appear to be able to use things with full self driving that others cannot.”

(Image: Tesla)

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Jun 14, 2021

Amazon test new technology to improve employee safety

Technology
Amazon
robots
Innovation
3 min
Amazon is testing new technologies in an effort to make handling packages safer for employees

At the Amazon Robotics and Advanced Technology labs in Boston, and Northern Italy, team members are testing and developing new technologies in order to help to make employees’ jobs safer, these include technologies that help move carts and packages through Amazon facilities.

Recently the safety of Amazon's warehouses has drawn scrutiny. On June 1, the Washington Post's Jay Greene and Chris Alcantara published findings from an analysis of Occupational Safety and Health Administration data showing Amazon's serious injury rates are nearly double those at other companies' facilities.

A spokesperson from Amazon said the company spent more than $1 billion last year on safety measures, and hired more than 6,200 employees to a group dedicated to workplace health and safety.

Motion-capture technology

One innovation being tested by Amazon, which is in early development, is the use of motion-capture technology to assess the movement of volunteer employees in a lab setting. These employees perform tasks that are common in many Amazon facilities, such as the movement of totes, which carry products through robotic fulfillment centers.

The motion-capture software enables Amazon scientists and researchers to more accurately compare data captured in a lab environment to industry standards rather than other modelling tools traditionally used by ergonomists.

“With this data, visualisations, and employee feedback, we are looking to identify relatively simple changes that can make a big impact,” said Kevin Keck, worldwide director of Advanced Technology at Amazon. “Something as simple as changing the position of handles on totes may help lower the risk of injuries to our employees at a massive scale.”

Autonomous Robots creating new paths to safety

In order to reduce the need for employees to reach up or bend down when retrieving items, Amazon is testing a new workstation system called “Ernie.” According to the company Ernie takes totes off of a robotic shelf and uses a robotic arm to deliver it to employees, so they can remain in a more comfortable and stable position.

“We’re known for being passionate about innovating for customers, but being able to innovate with robotics for our employees is something that gives me an extra kick of motivation each day,” said Keck. “The innovation with a robot like Ernie is interesting because while it doesn’t make the process go any faster, we’re optimistic, based on our testing, it can make our facilities safer for employees.”

“Bert” is one of Amazon’s first Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs), and is being tested to autonomously navigate through facilities with Amazon-developed advanced safety, perception, and navigation technology. In the future, it is thought that an employee would be able to summon Bert to carry items across a facility. 

‘Scooter’ and ‘Kermit’ are two other robots that also operate autonomously, and are both transport cars. The carts are used to carry empty totes and packages through our facilities. 

In a blog post the company said: ‘By having Autonomously Guided Carts (AGCs) like Scooter and Kermit perform physical tasks, we believe we can make our facilities safer and enable our employees to focus on jobs that require their critical thinking skills. In addition, using an AGC like Scooter to pull carts through our facilities reduces the risk of strains on our employees, or even collisions. We currently plan to deploy Scooter to at least one Amazon facility this year.’ 

Amazon began using robotics in its facilities in 2012, and since then they have added more than 1 million jobs worldwide while simultaneously deploying 350,000 mobile drive unit robots. 

“The role robotics and advanced technology can play in not only innovating for customers, but helping make our facilities safer, is a massive motivation for me and my team,” said Keck. “The health and safety of our employees is our number one priority. By listening to them, innovating on their behalf, and driving new technologies into our facilities over the coming months and years, I’m confident we’ll make a big contribution to our goal of reducing recordable incidents by 50% by 2025.”

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