Alibaba unveils cloud computer, autonomous logistics robot for last-mile deliveries

September 21, 2020 By [email protected]_84 Off

Alibaba Cloud, the digital technologies and intelligence backbone of Alibaba Group, has unveiled a series of products at its 12th annual Apsara Conference. Alibaba Cloud has introduced its first cloud computer, a palm-sized personal computer which weighs about 60 grams. According to Alibaba, by connecting the cloud computer to a computer screen, users can access “almost unlimited computing resources anytime, anywhere, while paying on a subscription model or for the actual cloud consumption”.

Alibaba also reports that the cloud computer can reduce the rendering time of one frame high-resolution animation from 90 minutes using a traditional PC, down to only 10 minutes. In addition, the cloud computer’s system upgrades are conducted online. Through Alibaba Cloud’s self-developed app-streaming protocol, which is designed for synergy between the cloud and the device, users can also purchase and access licensed apps and programs such Linux and Windows as well as various office applications. All user data will be stored on cloud for datacenter-grade security and protection measures. Available initially for enterprise customers, the cloud computers will be also available for purchase by individual consumers in the near future.

Alibaba Cloud also unveiled its autonomous logistics robot for last-mile deliveries. Developed by the Alibaba DAMO Academy, the global research initiative by Alibaba Group, the delivery robot can carry 50 packages at one time and cover 62 miles (or 100 kilometres) on a single charge. It is estimated the mobile robot should be able to deliver up to 500 packages a day to one designated community or campus.

The robot is designed to operate even in areas with weak or no GPS signal. Leveraging a self-developed heterogeneous computing platform, 3D Point Cloud Semantic Segmentation (PCSS) technology and deep learning, the robot can also identify obstacles and predict the intended movement of passengers and vehicles a few seconds ahead of time to enhance safety. Consumers can use either the Cainiao or Taobao mobile apps to select a preferred timeslot during the day for delivery. The robot then arrives at the designated destination, where users retrieve their packages by entering a passcode they receive in the app, once the robot arrives.

At the Conference, Alibaba also unveiled its Cloud Lakehouse big data architecture designed to deliver data-based intelligence through cross-platform computing, intelligent cache, hot/cold data separation, storage improvement and performance acceleration; and the Sandboxed-Container 2.0 cloud-native container service for Kubernetes, to support clusters that provide sandboxed container runtimes. Alibaba has also introduced the PAI-DSW 2.0 cloud-native machine-learning interactive development platform; and its Lindorm cloud-native multi-model database used to support the Alibaba Group ecosystem, which will now be expanded to serve the wider Alibaba Cloud ecosystem.

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