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  • The far out and futuristic cars of CES

    The far out and futuristic cars of CES

    2020-01-11
    Filled with software and sensors, connected to our smartphones and featuring an increasing number of interactive screens, there is arguably no piece of consumer technology today as complex as automobiles. It makes sense then, that cars are a big part of the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. That was certainly true this year. While major automakers weren't unveiling lots of new models, they did introduce a number of intriguing concept cars as well as cool technologies for inside the car. There were also concepts from companies not known for making cars. Mercedes-Benz goes all Avatar on us Daimler, which traces its roots back to the first internal combustion cars, brought its vision of the far future to this year's Consumer Electronics Show. And it's a very freaky future, one in which humans and machines can, literally, become one. Called the Mercedes-Benz Vision AVTR, this concept car theoretically allows drivers to operate some of the car's features with their mind. Instead of a conventional steering wheel, the Vision AVTR features a "multifunctional control element" -- essentially a moving bulge in the center console that allows the driver and the car to "merge." The vehicle recognizes the driver by his or her heartbeat or breathing. A menu is projected onto the palm of the driver's hand and the driver can, using thoughts, select from among the different options. Flaps along the rear of the car -- reminiscent of window louvers -- can open and close individually using that movement to communicate with those outside the car. The Vision AVTR can even move like a crab, turning all four wheels by about 30 degrees in order to drive sideways. The Mercedes-Benz Vision AVTR was created in cooperation with the producers of the movie Avatar 2, which is expected to be released next year. Ringed with glowing lights, inside and out, the Vision AVTR resembles one of the bioluminescent creatures on Pandora, the Earth-like satellite in which the original Avatar movie was set. Fisker's second act: The Ocean SUV Auto designer Henrik Fisker's first attempt at his own electric car company, Fisker Automotive, resulted in the nicely designed but rather impractical Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid in 2011. But production of the Karma soon ended when the company declared bankruptcy and its assets -- including some unassembled cars -- were auctioned off. The hybrid has since been improved upon, and is now being produced by another company, Karma Automotive. But that has not deterred Fisker. In 2016, he launched California-based Fisker Inc. And this week, the luxury electric car maker unveiled it first vehicle, the Ocean SUV, at CES. The new Fisker Ocean SUV is "designed for optimal space and usability," according to Fisker, a marked contrast to the long but cramped Karma. The SUV will have a "California Mode" button, which opens all the windows at one touch. The rear hatch window can roll down to allow long items -- like surfboards -- to hang out the back. It has...
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  • Tech trends to watch out for in 2020:Smart home,Rise of 5G and more

    Tech trends to watch out for in 2020:Smart home,Rise of 5G and more

    2020-01-03
    The 2010s made one thing clear: Tech is everywhere in life. Tech is in our homes with thermostats that heat up our residences before we walk through the door. It’s in our cars with safety features that warn us about vehicles in adjacent lanes. It’s on our television sets, where many of us are streaming shows and movies through apps. We even wear it on ourselves in the form of wristwatches that monitor our health. In 2020 and the coming decade, these trends are likely to gather momentum. They will also be on display next week at CES, an enormous consumer electronics trade show in Las Vegas that typically serves as a window into the year’s hottest tech developments. At the show, next-generation cellular technology known as 5G, which delivers data at mind-boggling speeds, is expected to take centre stage as one of the most important topics. We are also likely to see the evolution of smart homes, with internet-connected appliances such as refrigerators, televisions and vacuum cleaners working more seamlessly together — and with less human interaction required. “The biggest thing is connected everything,” said Carolina Milanesi, a technology analyst for the research firm Creative Strategies. “Anything in the home — we’ll have more cameras, more mics, more sensors.” If some of this sounds the same as last year, it is — but that’s because new technologies often take time to mature. Here’s what to watch in tech this year. The smarter home: True automation In the past few years, Amazon, Apple and Google have battled to become the centre of our homes. Their virtual assistants — Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri — respond to voice commands to play music from speakers, control light bulbs and activate robot vacuums. Smart home products work well, but they are complicated to set up, so most people use virtual assistants just for basic tasks like setting a kitchen timer and checking the weather. Then in December, Amazon, Apple and Google came to what appeared to be a truce: They announced that they were working together on a standard to help make smart home products compatible with one another. In other words, when you buy an internet-connected light bulb down the line that works with Alexa, it should also work with Siri and Google Assistant. This should help reduce confusion when shopping for home products and improve the ease with which connected gadgets work with one another. Milanesi said that eliminating complexity was a necessary step for the tech giants to achieve their ultimate goal: seamless home automation without the need for people to tell the assistants what to do. The slow, steady rise of 5G In 2019, the wireless industry began shifting to 5G, a technology that can deliver data at such incredibly fast speeds that people will be able to download entire movies in a few seconds. Yet the rollout of 5G was anticlimactic and uneven. Across the United States, carriers deployed 5G in just a few dozen cities. And only a handful of new smartphones last year...
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  • Five battlefields of the electric vehicle industry

    Five battlefields of the electric vehicle industry

    2019-12-27
    Vehicle Technologies – What’s Under the Hood? There are effectively two types of Electric Vehicle, all-electric vehicles (AEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). AEVs, can be further classified as battery electric vehicles (BEVs) or fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs), both of which must be charged from the electrical grid and are also usually capable of generating electricity through regenerative braking. A BEV is propelled entirely by electric motors powered by on-board batteries, does not use an internal combustion engine hence does not rely on fossil fuel. During braking, the electric motor can function as a generator, recharging the battery by converting the vehicle kinetic energy into electric energy. In a PHEV, the internal combustion engine remains the main energy source, with the battery and electric motor used to improve overall efficiency; the PHEV is propelled by the electric motor when the ICE is less efficient and otherwise runs on the ICE. Again, during braking, the electric motor works as a generator, recharging the battery. Since they rely less heavily on the electric motor, PHEVs can use smaller battery packs than BEVs. In both the BEV and PHEV, a large battery provides current to high voltage components within the system, which supply the electric powertrain of the vehicle. The Inverter and the DC-DC Converter are key high-voltage sub-components within both types of vehicle; the inverter converts the DC current from the battery to the three-phase ac current required by the electric motor. The DC-DC Converter converts the high voltage generated by the vehicle motor, (during braking, for example), to the typical battery voltage, usually either 12V or 20V. The Inverter The power transistors used within an inverter must seamlessly convert, switch and regulate large amounts of high voltage currents in a high-temperature, hostile environment. Traditionally the domain of Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor devices, (IGBT), new Wide Bandgap, (WGB), Silicon Carbide, (SiC), and Gallium Nitride, (GaN) based technologies are increasingly being adopted by manufacturers seeking improvements in power and efficiency levels. Transistors based on these technologies offer several advantages, including high temperature and high voltage operation and improved efficiency. At the same time, however, they bring new challenges to the designer in ensuring stable and safe designs. With the very fast switching speeds of GaN power transistors, great care must be taken to avoid the high levels of EMI emissions or transistor breakage that can be caused by parasitic inductance. While well-designed circuits and board layouts can address these issues, iterative design cycles can be time-consuming and expensive and tools such as Keysight’s leading-edge power circuit simulator software offer valuable performance verification during the design phase, greatly speeding time to market. The DC-DC Converter DC-DC Converters also bring design challenges; tradi...
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  • How winter weather affects electric cars

    How winter weather affects electric cars

    2019-12-23
    HERE’S WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN THE TEMPERATURES PLUNGE AND SNOW BEGINS TO FALL. With Old Man Winter’s icy fingers beginning to grip many parts of the country, motorists in general need to pay extra attention to their vehicles to ensure they’re ready to handle the onslaught of frigid weather. The change in seasons can be especially pronounced for electric-car owners, however, particularly those living in the coldest climates. Whether you’re a first-time buyer or are a seasoned veteran, here’s what to expect and how to proceed when the mercury plunges. CHECK THE TIRES For starters, be sure to check the air pressure in your vehicle’s tires using a good quality air gauge. While this should be a regular check, it’s especially important as we head into winter. That’s because tires generally lose two percent of their air pressure for every 10°F the ambient temperature drops. You may also see the tire pressure monitor warning light illuminated on your car’s instrument panel (it looks like a cutaway of a tire with an exclamation point). If the air pressure in one or more tires is low, inflate them to the automaker's recommended PSI (pounds per square inch). It’s stated in your owner’s manual and on a label that’s affixed to the driver’s-side doorjamb. If where you live gets extreme amounts of snowfall, consider installing a set of grippy snow tires for the winter. EXPECT FEWER MILES ON A CHARGE All vehicles, whether they run on gas or kilowatts, become less energy-efficient in cold weather. The typical internal combustion engine vehicle can see its gas mileage drop by around 20 percent in the cold, and this effect tends to be more pronounced with electric cars. The unfortunate truth is that cold temperatures can substantially hamper both a battery’s performance and its ability to accept a charge. A study conducted earlier this year by the AAA found that when the mercury dips to 20°F and the heater is in use, an electric car’s operating range will drop by an average of 41 percent. That means if you own a Nissan Leaf, that’s otherwise rated to run for 150 miles on a charge, you’d likely only be drive for around 88 miles before having to plug it in. You’ll also find it takes longer to bring the vehicle’s battery pack up to a full charge. Frigid temperatures also limit an electric car’s regenerative braking function, which recovers energy that would otherwise be lost during decelerating or stopping and sends it back to the battery. On top of that, using the heater will drain an electric vehicle’s battery at an accelerated pace. While gasoline engines generate large amounts of heat that can be harvested to warm a car’s interior, an electric car’s climate control system relies solely on battery power to accomplish this function. MAXIMIZE YOUR CAR’S COLD-WEATHER RANGE Extending an electric car’s operating range to achieve maximum miles on a charge can become an obsession with some electric car owners, and it becomes critical during the coldest months of the year. Pr...
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  • A digital zebra crossing could be the future of our roads

    A digital zebra crossing could be the future of our roads

    2019-12-20
    When we refer to new technologies applied to roads, we tend to refer to autonomous and connected vehicles or traffic lights, but, what about pedestrian crossings? These key elements on our road systems were first introduced in the United Kingdom in the 1940s and they have remained relatively unchanged until now. However, as new innovations are incorporated into roads, these will also need updating. A group of British designers have proposed a new concept of zebra crossing, which goes way beyond the white lines painted on the asphalt that we all know. This pedestrian crossing called Starling Crossing (STigmergic Adaptive Responsive LearnING Crossing), has been designed by the company Umbrellium and consists of a system made up of smart tiles that light up with different signs to adapt to traffic circumstances and pedestrian requirements. Together with these tiles, various cameras and sensors detect both the road and pedestrian traffic, they calculate their exact positions, directions and speeds, and, based on the information captured at that point, added to millions of prior data, they anticipate their next movements. This enables them to modify the configuration of the signs in real time, their size and even their direction, to increase the safety of pedestrians. The future of the road Therefore, first thing in the morning, when there tends to be few pedestrians, the pedestrian crossing only appears when someone approaches it, and it does so on the area of the road which the system has internalised as the safest. On the other hand, during the busiest time of the day, the pedestrian crossing area automatically expands. On rainy days, it adapts to generate wider stopping areas for pedestrians and vehicles. It is also capable of identifying potentially dangerous situations. Therefore, right in the midst of the smart phone era, if someone is distracted looking at their phone and they approach the road when a car is nearby, a standard warning light illuminates around them to fill their Towards a new means of communication with cities Starling Crossing is still a real-scale prototype, temporarily installed in a television studio in southwest London. This is where the designers can experiment and perfect it in a controlled environment: so the smart tiles are economical to install, so they can support the weight of vehicles, so they are not slippery, which is particularly dangerous for pedestrians and vehicles in the rain, or so the marks they show are bright enough in adverse weather conditions. For decades, priority has been given to road traffic over pedestrians in city centres, however, this trend is gradually changing. Although many tests still need to be carried out, given its impact on the safety of people, the Starling Crossing is shaped to be a good solution for cities to be more pleasant in terms of urban design and for them to communicate better with their pedestrians. ——Source:smartcitylab.com
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  • Electric cars may be the future, but they're still critically flawed in a key area

    Electric cars may be the future, but they're still critically flawed in a key area

    2019-12-09
    Studies have shown that in the US, Europe, and in China, producing an electric vehicle creates more greenhouse-gas emissions than producing an equivalent gas-powered vehicle. The biggest reason for that disparity is an electric vehicle's battery, which can account for about a quarter of its weight, Colby Self, the managing director at the Automotive Science group, told Business Insider. Electric-vehicle batteries are bigger than those used in gas-powered cars and feature a different kind of chemistry. While vehicles that run on gas tend to use lead-acid batteries, electric vehicles use lithium-ion batteries, like those found in cellphones and laptops. Lithium-ion batteries require a lot of energy to produce. So, too, does the extraction and refinement of metals like lithium, nickel, and cobalt. They're also harder to recycle than lead-acid batteries, Self said. "The CO2 emissions from making a battery are higher than what you save from not making the engine and transmission," David Reichmuth, a senior engineer in the clean-vehicles program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told Business Insider. A 2015 study from the Union of Concerned Scientists found that manufacturing a midsize electric vehicle would produce about 15% more emissions than the process of building a similar gas-powered vehicle would. For a bigger electric vehicle with a larger battery, that gap could grow to 68% or more, the nonprofit organization found. The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) came to the same conclusion based on a review of 11 studies published between 2011 and 2017. The nonprofit organization said that the electricity used in the battery production was the single biggest factor in explaining the emissions gap, which means using cleaner sources of energy would be the most impactful way to reduce the emissions that come from the production process. Volkswagen, which has perhaps the most ambitious electric-vehicle investment plans of any major automaker over the next decade, said that part of its agreement with LG Chem, one of its battery suppliers, requires the chemical company to use only environmentally friendly sources of electricity. And Tesla intends for its battery factory in Nevada to one day run entirely on renewable energy. Tesla and BMW are also engaging in battery-recycling programs, which the ICCT cites as another way to reduce the emissions from battery manufacturing. Overall, decarbonizing electric grids, recycling batteries, and increasing battery-energy density could decrease the emissions produced by battery manufacturing by up to 49%, the ICCT estimates. Looking beyond the battery Automakers are taking other steps to reduce the use of environmentally harmful forms of energy in their vehicle plants. BMW may be the most ambitious, saying it will use only electricity from environmentally friendly sources when making vehicles starting in 2020. Daimler plans to use only renewable energy in vehicle production starting in 2022, and...
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  • Smart Homes of Tomorrow – This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

    Smart Homes of Tomorrow – This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

    2019-10-28
    Privacy, vulnerability and reliability are the three main issues almost every connected device currently on the market faces, yet consumers are still choosing to automate their homes at an incredible rate. Currently we are seeing a huge growth in products and systems designed to improve and transform the way we live our lives inside of our homes. Demand for these devices is becoming something that we have never seen before as they become incorporated and standardized in the home of the future. Statistics forecast that the global smart home market will grow to around 40.9 Billion in 2020 with an estimated 12.86 Billion devices used in the consumer segment. Should these devices or their supporting networks in the future fail, the consequences could be serious. At the moment we are already seeing these devices targeted for the purpose of launching denial-of-service attacks, mining for cryptocurrencies, click fraud and data theft. The problem is the growth of IoT devices and digital technologies continue to evolve at incredible rates but manufactures are failing to produce secure and reliable products. Every day there is a story in the news about how these emerging technologies are abused by cyber criminals and the risks these devices present, yet everyone is still adopting this emerging technology at a rapid rate. So we have to ask ourselves the question, why do we continue to automate our homes with connected devices? Why are people automating their homes? Many people automate features in their houses because it solves a need, can be more efficient, helps contribute to life improvements and creates an intelligent ecosystem. Some home buyers are even looking to purchase more connected homes or are looking for homes in an area that provides faster internet connections. Another issue is presented when purchasing a house in the future with smart home equipment already baked in. This results in the possibility of hand-me-down vulnerabilities in anything from entertainment systems and lighting to security products and home appliances. In the same fashion that you would inspect the siding of a house before buying it, the same should be done for the devices installed in a connected home. The top three reasons why a homeowner chooses to incorporate connected devices tend to side with user experience, energy efficiency or home security. But at the same time most users write off the posed security risk due to novelty or disruptiveness of the technology. In short, users want something that will understand their identity, emotions and social life with limited impact and ease of use. Risk involved with automation Given the growth in the threat landscape by connecting everything to the internet, architects, designers and owners of connected homes are presented with three core issues: Privacy, vulnerability, and reliability. These issues are often overlooked because the users and those recommending the products do not understand how the technology works or the ris...
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  • AR in Your Car: How HUDs Are Changing Driving

    AR in Your Car: How HUDs Are Changing Driving

    2019-10-21
    Head-up displays (HUDs) are the next evolution in creating a better driving experience. They can help improve car designs by displaying key information and functionality on the driver’s windshield, which can improve the driver’s situational awareness. For example, displaying a car’s speed in the driver’s line of sight can reduce the eyes-off-the-road time. And when integrated with sensors and the capabilities of advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), HUD technology also enables drivers to more easily detect threats or warnings so that they can take action much more quickly. For example, instead of only having a red blinking light or an alarm inside the car, drivers can see a graphic that highlights real-world objects like a pedestrian or a roadblock. HUD system designs are starting to move away from traditional display technology, which uses thin film transistor (TFT) panels, and are instead adopting augmented reality (AR) to display images further out in front of drivers, in their natural line of sight. This projection also allows these images to represent the real world and provide more useful information, such as navigation, threat identification, and more. Why AR HUDs? While traditional HUD systems do have advanced automotive display technology, they still have limitations. For instance, they offer a small field of view (FoV) from the driver’s vantage point. A projected image is small in space—on the order of 5 to 7 horizontal degrees—and typically displayed 2 to 3 m out in front of the driver, which places the image near the front bumper of the car. This limited FoV places constraints on the types of image(s) that can be displayed and where those image(s) can appear in the driver’s view. Additionally, the limited virtual image distance (VID) makes it difficult to align, or overlay, conformal graphics onto real-world objects. As a result, the information displayed on traditional HUDs is primarily a duplicate of what is visible elsewhere from the driver’s seat, and doesn’t add additional features. An AR HUD reduces re-accommodation time by the longer VID—from around 2 m with traditional HUDs to 7, 10, or even 20 m with AR HUDs—which means that the driver’s eyes don’t have to shift focus between the real world to the HUD symbols, allowing them to more easily process and understand the information. Figures 1 and 2 illustrate these FoV and VID differences between traditional (past and present) HUDs and AR (future) HUDs. Decreasing the driver’s eye re-accommodation time becomes even more important when considering ADAS in next-generation cars, which allows critical information to be shown very naturally and efficiently on the display. With the adoption of AR HUDs, car designers now have the option to place cluster and traditional center-stack information directly in the driver’s line of sight, which could provide more dashboard design flexibility in future automobiles. Design Challenges During the design process, AR HUDs require different feat...
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  • Global Smart Fleet Management Market is projected to reach $537.53 billion by 2025

    Global Smart Fleet Management Market is projected to reach $537.53 billion by 2025

    2019-10-18
    A fresh report titled “Smart Fleet Management Market” has been presented by KD market insights. It evaluates the key market trends, advantages, and factors that are pushing the overall growth of the market. The report also analyzes the different segments along with major geographies that have more demand for Smart Fleet Management Market. The competition analysis is also a major part of the report. The global smart fleet management market was valued at $276.56 billion in 2017, and is projected to reach $537.53 billion by 2025, registering a CAGR of 8.9% from 2018 to 2025. In 2017, Asia-Pacific accounted for the highest share in the global smart fleet management market. Smart fleet solution is a fully integrated system used in automotive to simplify creation of effective maintenance plans. Smart fleet management services use software based on AI, IoT, and data analytics to enhance vehicle budget, driver management, fuel management, and vehicle telematics of aircraft & marine. Moreover, it benefits businesses that are significantly dependent on transportation of goods and services, with higher productivity and efficiency. It integrates commercial, technical, or operational requirements and restrictions. With access to real-time fleet status and fleet data, fleet managers can perform operations more effectively and increase driver productivity. The smart fleet management market forecasted from year 2018-2025 by considering all the driving factors that influence equally to the smart fleet management market applications. The global smart fleet management market segmented based on mode of transportation, application, connectivity, and region. Roadways, marine airways, and railways are studied under the mode of transportation segment. By application, the market is categorized into tracking, ADAS, optimization, and others. Depending on connectivity type, it is fragmented into short range and long range. Region wise, it is analyzed across North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and LAMEA. The smart fleet management industry size is calculated by considering all the countries shipments and traction technologies used in vehicles globally. The growth of the smart fleet management market is driven by rise in incorporation of real-time fleet monitoring systems in automobiles, increase in use of cloud-based technology for smart fleet management solutions, and improvement in vehicle monitoring & fuel management. Furthermore, advent and integration of IoT and information, communication, & technology (ICT) into industries such as automobiles, logistics, and transportation drive the market growth. In addition, continuous tracking of driver behavior, vehicle tracking, real-time visibility, driver management, and others has resulted in significant market growth. Furthermore, introduction of effective communication network with emergence of 4G, 5G, and other wireless technologies; growth in vehicle replacement market and increase in international trade fuel t...
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  • What is a smart city? How to define a smart city

    What is a smart city? How to define a smart city

    2019-10-14
    'Smart city' has become more than just a buzzword in recent years. In fact, with the increase in Internet of Things (IoT) and connected devices, more cities around the world are becoming smarter than ever before. However, it's important to note that a smart city can be defined in different ways depending on the level of development, resources and aspirations of its residents. This means that a smart city in Europe may have different connotations to a smart city in India. Despite the location, a smart city is often developed using data and digital technology to improve the quality of life. The adoption of smart applications can provide a range of benefits for residents, from public safety to health and transportation. In fact, according to a report from McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), smart city applications can improve some key quality-of-life indicators like health and safety, by 10 to 30 percent. What is a smart city? Essentially, a smart city is the re-development of an area or city using information and communication technologies (ICT) to enhance the performance and quality of urban services such as energy, connectivity, transportation, utilities and others. A smart city is developed when 'smart' technologies are deployed to change the nature and economics of the surrounding infrastructure. According to Gemalto, a smart city is best described as a framework and a big part of the ICT is an intelligent network of connected objects and machines that transmit data using wireless technology and the cloud. In essence, cloud-based IoT applications receive and manage data in real-time to help enterprises and residents make better decisions that improve the quality of life. These decisions can lead to the improvement of traffic congestion, energy disruption, internet connectivity and other services while cutting costs. The most popular example of a smart city application is connected cars, otherwise known as autonomous vehicles, which can be built to communicate with parking meters and EV charging docks to direct drivers to the nearest spot available. Car manufacturers have begun working towards the development of connected cars, with manufacturers like Tesla already ahead of the game in autonomous driving within the US. Gartnerestimates that a total of 250 million connected cars will be on the roads by 2020, this means an expected one in five vehicles will have some form of wireless network connection by 2020. Why do we need smart cities? The world’s population is continually growing, and urbanisation is expected to add another 2.5 billion people to cities over the next three decades, according to Gemalto. Already, the increase in the human population is leading to overcrowding in megacities around the world such as New York, Tokyo and London. The UK Department of Transport reported that Britain is one of the most congested countries in the world, and in London alone there were 5.4 percent more passengers than the capacity during morning rush-hour p...
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