Britain’s biggest grocery retailer Tesco made a splash this week by opening its first two discount supermarkets, as part of a bid to compete with popular German competitors Lidl and Aldi. Rather than convert existing loyal Tesco shoppers, the company is hoping to tap into an entirely new customer base with an untested brand called Jack’s. Changing consumer habits have sparked a rise in the popularity of discount grocers - Aldi and Lidl occupy roughly 13% of the UK market share. Jack’s hopes to set itself apart from its overseas rivals by going local. Tesco boss Dave Lewis says eight out of 10 products in Jack’s will be made in Britain - and many will come emblazoned with a Union Jack flag.
The world’s first hydrogen train rolled into action this week in what could be a major turning point in zero-emission rail travel. French manufacturer Alstom debuted two Cordia iLint trains Monday on a 100-kilometer stretch of rail in northern Germany. Their engines use fuel cells that produce electricity with hydrogen and oxygen and emit only water vapor as exhaust. And while hydrogen trains have a high initial sticker price, their boosted efficiency makes them cheaper (and quieter) to run in the long term than comparable diesel models. Experts view the trains as a more efficient option than diesel on routes that are not electrified, and in densely populated areas with high rail travel such as Germany.
One of the most popular video game consoles in history is making a comeback. Sony this week unveiled the Playstation Classic, a miniature version of its original console which first launched in 1994. The PS Classic will ship in December and come with 20 retro titles. A rise in consumer nostalgia is driving interest in retro products across a whole range of industries, and video games are no exception (similar products from Nintendo quickly sold out). Sony’s PS Classic, which comes in at half the size of the original and costs just $100, will make its popular old titles considerably more accessible to modern gamers.
Private space pioneers such as Elon Musk and Richard Branson have long promised to make space tourism a reality in the near future. But until now, few people have been thinking beyond our earth’s orbit. Now Musk is hoping to make history by taking one high-paying customer all the way to the moon. His SpaceX company this week announced it was planning to fly Japanese billionaire fashion tycoon Yusaku Maezawa around the moon in 2023 in what would be the first manned lunar journey in more than a half-century. Musk cautioned that the rocket for the mission has yet to be built, but called the announcement “an important step toward enabling access for everyday people who dream of traveling to space.”
The capabilities and applications for artificial intelligence continue to expand, but as an emerging technology, it’s still prone to error. Indeed, many company’s software systems have been accused of bias, such as discriminating against women or minorities when it comes to evaluating loans. In a bid to help companies and the public at large reduce bias within automated systems and explain how it happens, IBM this week unveiled its Fairness 360 kit. The cloud-based system will show customers - ranging from police departments to insurers - how their algorithms make decisions and even offer suggestions to improve them. “We are giving new transparency and control to the businesses that use AI and face the most potential risk from any flawed decision making,” said IBM’s Beth Smith.
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