Items of interest that might have been missed in the press of events.

  • The food-delivery market continues to be seen as a hot item, as funding for the food delivery apps continue to roll in.  Since the beginning of 2018, privately held players like DoorDash and Postmates have raised $1.8 billion and $450 million, respectively.  However, there’s new data that show growth in restaurants that use these services might be slowing.
  • McDonald’s has signed on with DoorDash to make food deliveries in Houston, cutting into Uber Eats’ traditional exclusive delivery relationship with the company.  McDonald’s was one of the first big restaurant chains to sign up with Uber when they added meal delivery service in 2017.  McDonald’s is also currently holding discussions with other delivery providers, including Grubhub.
  • Unilever is building virtual versions of its factories, using data streaming from sensor-equipped machines to create digital models that can track physical conditions and enable testing of operational changes (ref WSJ).  The strategy is known as “digit twin” and uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to analyze information from connected devices.  The intent is to make production more efficient and flexible.  The company’s chief engineer reports that,  “We’ve got it in plants that make mayonnaise, soap, shampoos and conditioners, and laundry detergents.”
  • Hybrid passenger planes that use both a combustion engine as well as an electric-powered motor are being developed currently.  A two-engine, five-passenger plane recently took a test flight with one of its engines replaced with an electric motor – “kind of like a plug-in hybrid car,” says the co-founder and CEO of Ampaire, a start-up that is developing the hybrids for the potential purpose of navigating autonomously, taking off and landing vertically, and shuttling thousands of commuters around cities and suburbs in coming decades.  Uber has announced plans to launch a transportation service using electric, vertical take-off aircraft in 2023.

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