Technology, mobility gathers in Bentonville at the UP.Summit

More than 250 global leaders in technology and mobility gather this week in Bentonville for the UP.Summit, first founded by aviation entrepreneur Cyrus Cigar in 2017. The annual summit-only summit revolves each year between Bentonville, which hosts Tom and Stuart Walton, and Dallas / Fort Worth, host of Ross Perot Jr.

The event is sponsored by Walmart, Wisk, Airbus, Boeing and ARK Invest.

Leaders from more than two dozen companies spoke at the event Tuesday and Wednesday (June 7-8) at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. The focus of this year’s summit is the future of transport, using technological advances with a focus on cleaner, faster and cheaper options for mobility over land, sea, air and space.

Alice Walton, philanthropist and daughter of Walmart founders Sam and Helen Walton, is a fan of mobility and welcomed attendees to Tuesday’s Crystal Bridges Summit.

“When my family moved to Bentoville, there were about 2,000 people here. This museum where we stand today was outside the city. We lived on a dairy farm and Walmart was not a national name, nor was JB Hunt or Tyson Foods. But this region was looking for change, “Walton said.

Walton said he believed that the poorer the soil, the richer people are, that they have to be better and have to be innovative to survive. She said that’s how she sees Northwest Arkansas.

“Companies here know how to work together and support each other. “The secret sauce of Northwest Arkansas is the community,” Walton said.

She said more than 30 years ago, the region’s leading business minds formed the Northwest Arkansas Council with the original goal of getting a green airport outside Bentonville. She said the airport was crucial to the region’s continued growth and was the first green airport built in 50 years since it opened in 1998. Regarding the Crystal Bridges Museum, Walton said they were needed a few years to get her family on board with her big dream, but they came closer and agreed that the sacred family land she was on should be for the public good.

“I really didn’t know how big this was going to be, but my mother always told me, give me the thing you love the most. As a child, I always loved art, and that’s how this museum came to be, “said Walton.

She said it was important for her family that museums were owned by the community and that admission would always be free to ensure equal access to art for all.

“Crystal bridges are the intersection of art, nature and architecture where American history is told,” Walton said. “I had no idea how big this dream could be, but we expected about 100,000 to 200,000 visitors a year and in the first 10 years we have met over 6 million. We expect 1 million visitors this year. “

She openly invited guests to return often and possibly stay, as people in the region know how to care for and support each other.

“I left here once, but I got it back and I’m back,” Walton said.

She recently transferred her oversight duties to Olivia Walton, the wife of her nephew Tom Walton, so she can focus on her next dream of transforming healthcare in the region and the state with the Whole Health Institute coming to Crystal Bridges in 2024. d.

A number of company executives spoke at Tuesday’s morning session about the needs and challenges of innovation for greener, automation and mobility. Innovation and pilots are at work for everything from Class 8 trucks that will use compressed natural gas to deliver long distances to drone deliveries to drones that deliver life-saving blood to Rwanda.

Walmart operates the largest private fleet in the United States with more than 10,000 tractors and 80,000 trailers driven by 12,000 drivers who drive an average of 100,000 miles a year. The retail giant is in the midst of testing several technologies with multiple vendors, and Fernando Cortes, senior vice president of transportation at Walmart, said the retailer is looking to reduce its carbon emissions across its fleet.

Zipline CEO Keller Rinaudo said the drones have managed to travel to places where no other mode of transport can and his company is helping to address logistical challenges in Africa by delivering blood, insulin, COVID-19 vaccines and other drugs on time. to clinics in Rwanda, Kenya and soon Nigeria, Japan and three US states, including Arkansas.

Zipline drones have flown 45 million miles safely and delivered seven million products. He said that every two minutes someone receives a delivery of Zipine. Zipline partnered with Walmart last year to deliver drones from the Walmart Neighborhood Market store in Pea Ridge. He said deliveries began with health aids, but have since evolved to include 12,000 items in the store and will soon be 28,000.

The partners also tested a robotic device from Serve Robotics, which can take orders from the store to the drone’s flying station behind the store, where they are transferred to the drone.

Rinaudo said drones can fly in all weathers, and while they offer some efficiency savings for US companies, their effects are much greater in countries like Rwanda and Kenya, where supplies can mean the difference between life and death.

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