Light as an egg: Alibaba launches first cloud computer, plus robots for deliveries – NewsSeptember 20, 2020
Chinese tech giant backs commitment to helping consumers adapt to more digitised world, new normal
Alibaba Cloud rolled out a series of products at its recent 12th annual Apsara Conference, highlighting the their commitment to helping people adapt to the more digitised world and accelerate customers’ digital transformation during and after the coronavirus pandemic.
The company – the digital technologies and intelligence backbone of Chinese tech giant Alibaba Group – introduced its first-ever cloud computer, a palm-sized PC that despite being just about 60g and as light as an egg, offers high-performance computing, thanks to robust back-end cloud resources. Connecting the device with a normal computer screen will allow a user to access almost unlimited computing resources anytime and anywhere, while paying for a subscription model or for the actual cloud consumption.
It can, for example, reduce the rendering time of one frame high-resolution animation from 90 minutes using a traditional PC down to only 10 minutes.
“We hope our cloud computer can help people access resilient computing power whenever they need to, so they can conduct complex tasks, which usually require sophisticated and powerful PCs, such as video editing, animation rendering, software development and online customer services, with a tiny personal computer at hand now,” said Jeff Zhang, president of Alibaba Cloud Intelligence.
“As working from home becomes the new normal during and after the pandemic, we believe our innovation can also help users more easily enjoy the benefits of cloud computing anytime, anywhere, in a cost-effective yet secure way.”
All user data will be stored on cloud for data centre-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, it can carry 50 packages at one time and cover100km on a single charge.
It is estimated the mobile robot should be able to deliver as many as 500 packages a day to one designated community or campus, meeting the rising demand for speedy last-mile delivery in China. Online shopping is booming in the world’s second-largest economy with 200 million packages delivered daily and expectations that will rise to one billion packages per day in the coming years.
“We are expecting a rapid spike of delivery demands brought by the thriving new retail and local services businesses in the increasingly digitalised world,” added Zhang. “To meet the strong delivery demand for our internal business growth and for the larger society, we have been investing in smart logistics, including logistics robots, for years.”
“Moving ahead, we aim to support the delivery needs of our local services businesses and leverage our technologies for other types of service robots, such as service robots in the airport and tourism guide robots in scenic spots.”
The robot can schedule its route even in a crowded environment. With proprietary, high-definition positioning technology, the robot can operate even where there’s weak or no GPS signal. It can also identify obstacles and predict the intended movement of passengers and vehicles a few seconds ahead of time to enhance safety.