Top40 News for 07/26/2018

#39 Walmart will chauffeur grocery shoppers in self-driving Waymo cars

Every major tech and car company has self-driving cars on their mind. Now Walmart does too.

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The world's largest retailer announced Wednesday a pilot with Waymo, the self-driving division of Google's parent company, to offer shoppers free rides in autonomous cars to its stores.

The pilot program, which for now only applies to people picking up groceries, kicks off later this week in Chandler, Arizona.

After a customer places an order at Walmart.com, he or she will be picked up by a Waymo van at their home. The vehicle will drive to the Walmart and wait outside until an employee brings out the customer's groceries. Walmart will designate Waymo parking spots at its store in Chandler.

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#40 Amazon will prevent command confusion on all Alexa devices

Amazon's Echo lineup, like some smart speakers, uses proximity detection to decide which device is best-suited to responding to your voice commands. It's a clever way to prevent multiple devices from waking up at the same time. There's just one problem: support in non-Amazon devices has been inconsistent at best, creating a mess if you have third-party gear that doesn't use the feature. Thankfully, that shouldn't be an issue from here on out. Amazon has moved its Echo Spatial Perception technology to the cloud, ensuring that all devices can use it.

The ESP upgrade is automatic and doesn't require any changes on the part of hardware makers. It's also more accurate, according to Amazon, and can change over time as Alexa receives upgrades.

This doesn't change some limitations for multi-device households. Many commands still apply specifically to the device where they're set, such as reminders and timers. Even so, this could be a crucial update for Amazon. If it's going to bring Alexa to virtually every device it can, it has to create a harmonious ecosystem.

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