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Near Term Forecasting powered by AI

One thing that I find interesting in the AI movement is the creative use of data and algorithms to solve old problems in a new way or to solve new problems. My colleague, Vikram Srinivasan talked about one such new problem in a previous blog post:  AI is Changing Everything We Thought About Forecasting Demand. Vik discussed how AI is helping improve demand forecasting with additional data and new algorithms. Digging deeper, he mentioned an […]

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near term forecasting

One thing that I find interesting in the AI movement is the creative use of data and algorithms to solve old problems in a new way or to solve new problems.

My colleague, Vikram Srinivasan talked about one such new problem in a previous blog post:  AI is Changing Everything We Thought About Forecasting Demand.

Vik discussed how AI is helping improve demand forecasting with additional data and new algorithms. Digging deeper, he mentioned an area that I would classify as an entirely new problem: near term forecasting.

What is near term forecasting?  I would describe it as trying to predict what your customer’s next order will be.  This problem is even more prevalent for those selling through fast growing e-commerce channels.  That is, if you are a manufacturer selling through Amazon, Walmart.com, Home Depot.com, etc., the question you would like to know is what they will order from you next week (or next few days).

Traditional forecasting (even traditional forecasting enhanced by AI) helps you better plan production, inventory, and capacity.  And, it tells you when to expect bumps in demand (like for seasonality) and what growth you should plan for.

Near term forecasting is different.  Here our goals are short-term and tactical.  We simply care about what the next order will look like.  We care about this because this is how we get measured and penalized.  If the order comes in for 100 and we only deliver 50, we incur penalties.  And, if we short the order in one week, we can expect even more volatility in the weeks to come.

E-commerce retailers do provide a longer-range forecast on what they think demand for product will be.  But this forecast tends to be at a global level (aggregated across all sites) and not very reliable. Manufactures are often caught off-guard by the very erratic site level orders they receive each week.

In truth, E-commerce retailers often have a machine learning algorithm that place these orders. The algorithms account for not only the expected consumer demand, but also consider things like how many people are visiting the product webpages, whether the item was recently out-of-stock, and how the vendor has been performing in general.

So how can manufacturers keep up? What if they fought fire with fire? Or machine learning with machine learning in this case.  If manufacturers could learn to “reverse engineer” these order algorithms they could significantly improve their insights into coming orders and proactively adjust operations to avoid being caught off guard.

AI can help reverse engineer these algorithms.  It predicts what the order will be by using the same data the retailer has -or, at least whatever data the e-commerce retailer currently shares with its vendors.

In this sense, this problem is also closely related to the marketing AI problem of providing the next best action or the marketplace AI problem of giving a recommendation.  Ultimately, we are looking for our algorithm to tell us what the next action is likely to be.

Near term forecasting requires both internal data (previous orders, previous delivery performance) and data from the e-commerce retailer’s portal (out of stock information, pageview information, pricing changes for the product).

AI is opening up many new problems to solve.  And, with the continued rise of e-commerce, areas like near term forecasting will be more and more common.

Mike Watson is Senior Vice President Opex Analytics Division of LLamasoft. With a PhD in Industrial Engineering and 20+ years of experience leading global business teams at LogicTools, ILOG and IBM, Mike brings deep analytics and supply chain optimization expertise to the team. He pairs technical expertise with a personal approach to helping customers design and implement successful enterprise solutions.

Source: https://logisticsviewpoints.com/2020/05/19/near-term-forecasting-ai/

Automotive

VW’s Traton Group strikes a deal with TuSimple to develop autonomous trucks

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The Traton Group, Volkswagen AG’s heavy-truck business, has taken a minority stake in TuSimple as part of an agreement between the two companies to develop self-driving trucks.

Neither company disclosed the financial terms of the partnership or the percentage of the minority stake. Traton did make a direct capital investment into TuSimple, according to one unnamed source familiar with the deal. It’s unclear if it also included in-kind contributions.

Traton’s investment is not part of TuSimple’s recent effort to raise $250 million in a Series E round. raton Group does have an option to participate in the round.

The two companies outlined Wednesday plans to launch a development program that will use Traton’s Scania trucks equipped with TuSimple’s automated vehicle technology. The companies said testing will begin with a route between Södertälje to Jönköping in Sweden. The trucking manufacturer ultimately wants to test driverless truck fleets on roads throughout Sweden, Germany and other countries.

The companies didn’t provide details on the scope of the program or timelines, beyond plans to “work closely” to develop Level 4 autonomous systems for trucks of the Traton brands. Specifically, Traton said the aim is for these trucks to have Level 4 capabilities, which they define as being able to “achieve full automation without human intervention under defined driving conditions and applied in all markets.”

Traton said this could serve as a means of counteracting the increasing lack of drivers in the medium term. The first cases of deployment could be conducted outside of the specially demarcated areas, particularly for highly frequented hub-to-hub routes, Traton said in its announcement.

The partnership will expand TuSimple’s autonomous vehicle operations beyond the U.S. and China to Europe. The startup, which is backed by Sina, Nvidia, UPS and Tier 1 supplier Mando Corporation, operates a fleet of 40 self-driving trucks in the U.S. that are used for testing and to carry freight between Arizona and Texas. The company, which launched in 2015 and has operations in China, San Diego and Tucson, Arizona.

The partnership also tightens the connection between Traton, TuSimple and Navistar. In July, TuSimple announced plans to develop and begin producing autonomous semi trucks by 2024 in partnership with Navistar. The plan is to move away from retrofitting the Navistar International commercial trucks that TuSimple currently uses and instead develop semi trucks specifically designed for autonomous operations. The strategic partnership included Navistar taking an undisclosed stake in startup TuSimple.

Meanwhile, Traton holds a 16.6% stake in Navistar, which it acquired by buying $256 million worth of shares in September 2016. The two companies could end up getting closer. In January, Traton made an unsolicited bid to buy the remaining Navistar stock that it doesn’t own for $35 share. Traton upped its offer this month to $43 a share, or about $3.9 billion, Bloomberg reported earlier this monthh.

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2020/09/23/vws-traton-group-strikes-a-deal-with-tusimple-to-develop-autonomous-trucks/

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Automotive

2022 Tesla Model S Plaid coming with three motors and more than 1,100 horsepower

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Remember those modified Tesla Model S prototypes lurking around the Nürburgring last year? They looked significantly more mean than your typical Model S Performance. And now we know they didn’t just look mean. The company announced during its “Battery Day” presentation that it will launch the Model S Plaid at the end of next year with some truly incredible numbers.

Unlike other Model S sedans, the Plaid gets three motors. The exact layout wasn’t given, but we would expect dual motors at the rear for torque vectoring. We do know that all three motors make a lot of power, more than 1,100 horses. The company estimates that the Plaid will be able to do 0-60 in under 2 seconds, and the quarter-mile in under 9 seconds. Furthermore, the company has done testing at Laguna Seca, and the current fast time with the car is 1 minute 30.3 seconds. During the presentation, it was suggested they could shave off another 3 seconds. That would make it about as fast as the current production car record holder, the McLaren Senna, which lapped the track in the hands of Motor Trend in 1 minute 27.62 seconds. As for the Nürburgring, Tesla hasn’t said anything yet. Besides outright power, Tesla says the Plaid will have an electric range of more than 520 miles.

Some of these claims are, surely not coincidentally, a close match to claims Lucid is making about its Air sedan, especially the “quicker than quick” three-motor version that was teased out earlier in the day. The Air shown in the video apparently has done the quarter-mile in 9.62 — and aims to do better — and three Lucid motors are capable of 670 horsepower per, meaning the car could theoretically sport over 2,000 horsepower.

The trailer Tesla showed didn’t reveal much about what the Model S Plaid looks like. What we could see showed a big rear spoiler, like what we saw on prototypes last year. The fenders might be a bit wider, and there may still be a bit of diffuser leftover from the prototypes. But in the glimpses we could see, it seems slightly less intense than what we’ve previously seen.

The first Plaids will be delivered late next year, but you can put in your order for one right now. Not surprisingly, the Model S Plaid is not cheap. It costs $139,990, or $141,190 with destination charge. That’s about $50,000 more than a Model S Performance. That price also splits the difference of the 522-horsepower Porsche Taycan 4S that starts at $105,150, and the 670-horsepower Taycan Turbo that starts at $152,250.

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Source: https://www.autoblog.com/2020/09/22/2022-tesla-model-s-plaid-announced/

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Automotive

2021 Hyundai Sonata N Line revealed with subtly aggressive design

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We’ve known for a while that there would be a 2021 Hyundai Sonata N Line. We’ve even driven it. But only now are we finally seeing the hopped up midsize sedan. And it looks fine.

Don’t get us wrong, it’s still as handsome as any of the other Sonatas. The sedan in general is a gorgeous car with killer details, such as its trick daytime running lights. But the N Line doesn’t look that much more aggressive than the Sonatas in every other trim from SEL to Limited.

The front fascia has reworked grilles, with the outboard ones a bit larger and the lower one smaller. Those outboard grilles have the pointing chevron design that appeared on the Elantra N Line. The main grille has a very similar mesh insert to the SEL-and-up Sonatas. The side skirts appear to be slightly deeper, and the rear bumper has more of the diffuser section painted black, but otherwise features the same exhaust tips and diffuser fins as the other Sonatas. The N Line also gets unique 19-inch wheels.

The interior has more substantial changes. Most notable are the sporty seats in a unique gray fabric upholstery. They feature embroidered N logos, red piping and red stitching. The rest of the interior’s brightwork is replaced with dark chrome accents. The steering wheel is leather-wrapped and N-badged.

Oddly, Hyundai didn’t provide final specifications for the Sonata N Line. We do have preliminary specs from our first drive several months ago, though. Under the hood is a turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder making around 290 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels via an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The Sonata N Line also gets a variety of handling upgrades, though we don’t have specifics on those changes. Final pricing and availability are also unknown, though the car is expected to go on sale by the end of the year.

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Source: https://www.autoblog.com/2020/09/22/2021-hyundai-sonata-n-line-reveal/

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