• SpaceX upgrades the automatic recovery ship and installs a new rocket recovery robot

    SpaceX upgrades the automatic recovery ship and installs a new rocket recovery robot

    According to Teslarati, Space Exploration Technologies Corp (SpaceX) has kicked off a series of major upgrades planned for its East Coast Autonomous spaceport drone ship, and launched a new second tank-like rocket recovery robot. SpaceX named the rocket recovery robot ‘’Octagrabber’’. Since 2017, SpaceX has been using rocket recovery robot on drone ship OCISLY. While far from autonomous, Octagrabber helps SpaceX’s maritime rocket recovery team minimize the risks workers are subjected to and gives the company a bit more flexibility to attempt Falcon booster landings in less-than-pristine ocean weather. Although the Falcon boosters are relatively stable after landing, most of the air quality is concentrated around nine Merlin 1D engines, and even moderate waves can cause them to slip and slide around the drone ship deck. Aside from the discovery of a second Octagrabber being built at SpaceX’s former East Coast Starship factory, the nature of other upgrades planned for drone ship JRTI are more mysterious. For several months, the rocket landing platform has had almost a dozen massive generators and new thruster pods stored on its deck, seemingly waiting on an unknown impetus for their installation. In recent weeks, visible work to prepare the new hardware for installation has begun. Notably, the thrusters and power supplies installed in JRTI will be dramatically upgraded, which may allow the automatic ship to have higher power than the tug boat. In other words, SpaceX may try to make the automatic drone ship JRTI completely independent of the tug boat, potentially simplifying and lowering the cost of booster recoveries. While less likely, SpaceX will finally be able to fully automate the drone ships, with high-powered thrusters potentially giving JRTI the ability to leave port, cruise to Atlantic Ocean landing zones, deploy Octagrabber, and return to port with a booster that all without humans. This capability may not be realized in recent but powerful thrusters and generators would bring port-to-port drone ship autonomy within SpaceX’s grasp in the near future. News source: technews
  • Possible new 'mini moon' discovered orbiting Earth. It started to circle the earth three years ago

    Possible new 'mini moon' discovered orbiting Earth. It started to circle the earth three years ago

    In the earth's orbit, which is full of satellites and human-made debris and only one confirmed natural object: the moon. Recently, astronomers announced that there is a ‘mini moon’ in earth orbit that has been around the earth for three years, named 2020 CD3. The moon is the only natural satellite that has been steadily following the earth since ancient times. In fact, the earth's gravity often accidentally catches other passing small bodies in the solar system. The latter will be temporarily bound in the earth's orbit, and then walk around for a while before leaving again. In September 2006, scientists discovered that the 2006 RH120, a near Earth Asteroid, entered the temporary satellite capture (TSC) and returned to orbit around the sun in June 2007 after circling the earth for several times. In recent days, International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center (MPC) announced that there is a new temporary satellite capture object on earth. It was discovered by Catalina Sky Survey (CSS) that it was captured by earth gravity three years ago, named 2020 CD3 (C26FED2). The object is very small. The estimated diameter of the sunlight reflected from it is only 1.9-3.5 meters. It may leave the earth's orbit sometime in April this year and return to the normal orbit around the sun. If more observations later confirm this, it will be the second known Mini moon among nearly a million known asteroids. But scientists say further analysis is needed to determine whether the object is a space rock, rather than a large piece of space junk made by humans. We hope we can get the answer by April. ——Source:technews
  • McAfee researchers modify the sign of speed limit to easily trick Tesla's Autonomous Driving car from 35mph to 85mph

    McAfee researchers modify the sign of speed limit to easily trick Tesla's Autonomous Driving car from 35mph to 85mph

    Researchers stuck a piece of electrical insulating tape on the speed limit sign, which successfully cheated Tesla's electric vehicle to accelerate. It reveals various potential loopholes in the current autonomous driving systems. According to McAfee's research report, technicians pasted tape across the middle of the number of "3" on the speed limit sign of "35" mph, which led to the misjudgment of the speed limit of "85" mph, and then the vehicle's cruise control system accelerated automatically. McAfee said that the problem was not a serious risk for motorist, no one was injured during the experiment, and the researchers who drove the car slowed down safely. But during 18 months research last year, the results shows that autonomous machine learning systems have weaknesses. According to Steve Povolny, director of McAfee's Advanced Threat Research lab, other studies have also shown how changes in the physical world can easily confuse systems. McAfee said: such tests are not common in the real world These tests include the 2016 models s and X, which are using camera systems from Mobileye (now an Intel business unit). Although Tesla stopped using the Mobileye system in 2016, several automakers continued to use it. Mobileye's latest camera system test did not show same fault, and Tesla's latest model no longer relies on only identifying traffic signs, McAfee said. Tesla did not respond to any comment on this study. "Manufacturers and suppliers have been informed of this problem and have further understood and improved it, " Povolny said. "But this does not change the fact that there are many blind spots in the autonomous driving industry. To be sure, the threat to the real world is limited. First of all, autonomous driving is still in the developed stage,most will be tested when the driver can take over the steering wheel safely any time. Although many vehicles support ADAS now, they still need to pay attention to the road conditions. McAfee researchers can only cheat the system by copying a series of specific events, including turning on driving AIDS and encountering tampered speed limit signs. Manufacturers also integrate mapping technology into systems that respond to appropriate speed limits. "Until we have a real autonomous driving car, it is unlikely to see the above situation in the real world, or the attacker tries to exploit these loopholes. At that time, we hope that such defects can be solved as soon as possible. "Povolny said. Even driving can be fooled by such changes; the system that researchers tested was originally designed to aid driving, not to support autonomous driving, Mobileye said. In addition to sensing, autonomous driving needs to improve safety and fault tolerance through various technologies "Autonomous driving technology not only relies on sensing, but also receives various other technologies and data support, such as crowd sourced mapping. It’s for ensure the reliability of received information from camera sensors and pro...
  • China wants to make swappable electric vehicle batteries mainstream

    China wants to make swappable electric vehicle batteries mainstream

    Driving an electric car is, for the most part, exactly like driving an internal combustion engine vehicle, except when it comes to refueling. Charging an electric car can often take hours at a time, but China is making a push to support technology that could cut that down to just minutes. According to a Bloomberg report, which cites sources close to the matter, the Chinese government is pushing for common industry standards on battery swapping technology. The standards would allow EV drivers to change the depleted batteries in their cars for fully charged ones, rather than having to charge from an electricity source. China appears to be pushing the battery swapping technology in an attempt to further promote electric vehicles in the country. It’s already the biggest market for EVs in the world. One of the biggest hindrances with owning an EV is the time it takes to charge its batteries. An on-the-go battery swapping system would create a big opportunity for infrastructure not too dissimilar from conventional filling stations. In principle, EV drivers would be able to go to a battery swap station, have their old flat batteries removed, and new fully charged ones put in. The process could take minutes; no longer than it would take to fill a fuel tank. Another potential plus point is that electric vehicles could be sold without batteries, making them cheaper. Batteries would then be leased or bought on a separate plan based on the individual needs of the buyer, making them cost effective. A big ask of electric car makers It sounds great, but it’s not going to be easy. A number of companies have tried over the years, but none have succeeded in consumer markets yet. One startup called Better Place trialed its battery swap technology in Tel Aviv, Israel between 2007 and 2013, and only managed to sell 500 cars. It went defunct after losing over $800 million. Manufacturers just didn’t buy into Better Place’s vision. French marque Renault was the only automaker to give it a shot, and at that it made only one vehicle compatible with Better Place’s tech. Chinese car maker BAIC BluePark New Energy Technology Co. reportedly already has 187 battery-swap stations across 15 cities in China. But those are used solely to support 16,000 electric taxis. Given the size of the Chinese EV market and having government support, its car industry might be able to make progress where others have failed. But the same can’t be said for western markets. If swappable car batteries are going to become a reality, the tech needs to be supported by as many car brands as possible, and that’s a big ask. ——Source:
  • Mobile World Congress canceled after coronavirus outbreak makes conference ‘impossible’

    Mobile World Congress canceled after coronavirus outbreak makes conference ‘impossible’

    Mobile World Congress (MWC), the world’s largest trade show for the mobile phone industry, has been canceled amid fears over the coronavirus outbreak. The organizers behind the Barcelona-based event, GSMA, announced Wednesday it would no longer be holding MWC due to ongoing concerns over the spread of a new strain of coronavirus which originated in China. “With due regard to the safe and healthy environment in Barcelona and the host country today, the GSMA has cancelled MWC Barcelona 2020 because the global concern regarding the coronavirus outbreak, travel concern and other circumstances, make it impossible for the GSMA to hold the event,” GSMA said in a statement. Multiple firms had pulled out of the tech conference prior to the GSMA’s decision, putting pressure on the hosts to drop the event. LG, Sony, Ericsson, Nokia, Nvidia, Intel and Amazon are some of the biggest names to have suspended their attendance in recent days. Various tech firms have been monitoring the health crisis, with some deciding to pull out of MWC as they assess the risk it would have on their staff. While plenty had backed out altogether, some had instead scaled back their presence. Huawei, for example, said it would send its European staff to Barcelona to cover for stranded Chinese employees. ——Source:CNBC
  • CES 2020: The new IoT, or 'intelligence of things', is the major tech trend of the decade

    CES 2020: The new IoT, or 'intelligence of things', is the major tech trend of the decade

    LAS VEGAS - A new idea surrounding IoT will steer how technology will go in the new decade - instead of standing for the Internet of Things, the acronym should stand for the "intelligence of things", said Consumer Technology Association's (CTA) vice president of research Steve Koenig. "This new IoT bears testimony to the extent that artificial intelligence (AI) is permeating every facet of our commerce and our culture. "Now, commerce is pretty well-understood and we endorse that as we want to advance our economies around the world, but culture is really interesting to me as a researcher, because we're talking about technology's influence on human behaviour," he said. He brought up the example of how fast food giant McDonald's is looking at bringing AI-powered voice assistants to its drive-through restaurants in the United States. "People working in fast food - they've got a tough job. They've got to take the order, and they want to get that right, then they have to handle the transaction, and they better get that right so that they don't shortchange anybody, and then they've got to organise the order, you know, don't forget the ketchup... so by adding a little bit of intelligence for that first initial interaction of taking the order, frees the human worker to really focus on handling that money transaction and providing better service." Mr Koenig was speaking to the press at a media preview event before CES 2020, the latest edition of the biggest tech show in the world, officially opens its doors on Tuesday (Jan 7). Indeed, going by what was showcased at CES Unveiled last Sunday (Jan 5) night - a preview event of just some of the technology that will be seen at CES later in the week - AI continues to make its mark in the consumer tech world as it inches its way into almost every product imaginable. Japanese company Groove X showed off its Lovot companionship robots, which make use of AI via facial and speech recognition technology to identify its owners to ask for cuddles and stay by their side. The cute, pint-sized robots received many coos from onlookers as they waddled their way around the hall on their own. French beauty giant L'Oreal debuted the Perso, an AI-powered system that creates on-demand and personalised formulas for skincare, and custom shades for foundation and lipstick. Users can use a paired app to discover the perfect lip colour to match their outfits, for example, and have the exact shade mixed at home on the spot. Powering this new idea of the intelligence of things on a grander scale, of course, is 5G technology, added Mr Koenig. Even though 5G is the fifth wireless generation, he said, it is the first that will eventually be led by enterprise applications, whether it be for smart mobility or powering health operations remotely, among numerous others. He discussed, for example, how 5G can be used to help farmers better plan crop yields via drone fleets with sensors that can fly over massive plantations to look for plant dise...
  • CES 2020: The Future of Cities, Transportation and Equity

    CES 2020: The Future of Cities, Transportation and Equity

    The 2020 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas features a host of new exhibits and conversations about how smart city design, transportation, security and equity will evolve in the years to come. LAS VEGAS — Making smart city design citizen centric — with an eye toward security and inclusion — has been a big theme at this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. The annual electronics conference gives corporate and government insiders a chance to look at future trends in tech, but also to discuss how it can be paired with policy to improve citizens' lives. A number of events at CES this year highlighted the importance of transportation, not the least of which was the keynote given Wednesday by U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, who unveiled a new set of federal guidelines designed to pave the way for safe and efficient private development of autonomous vehicles. Paired with Chao's announcement were AV models from Audi, Honda, Bertrand and many other car makers, while Toyota also announced its ambitious Woven City project — a future city concept to be constructed in Japan that will allow engineers to test self-driving vehicles, smart tech and robotics in a real-life environment. The transportation options of the future won't just involve driving cars, however, but also flying ones. This year, Hyundai showcased its partnership with Uber to create the "flying taxi,” or the S-A1, a move that follows the ride-share company’s plan to create a fleet of air taxis and an accompanying aerial ride-share network. Bell, meanwhile, made a similar move in showing off its new Nexus 4EX, a flying car that is also a partial hybrid vehicle. Also on display at CES was the power of big data to transform and augment Smart City design. Some companies have showcased how data is being used to optimize service delivery, while others show its potential to enhance security. EnelX, for example, exhibited its City Analytics service product that allows public administrations to leverage data collection on pedestrian and traffic flows to analyze a community’s busiest areas; meanwhile Hitachi’s Lumada Video Insights uses artificial intelligence, analytics and IoT to create comprehensive urban surveillance systems. Cybersecurity was also omnipresent at CES this year. As if to highlight its importance, the city of Las Vegas was actually hit with a cyberattack on the conference's first day. This didn't stop the multitude of sessions and vendors from showing off the newest developments in security for smart city design. Finally, speakers throughout the conference talked about the need to couch technological advances within an inclusive vision for social policy, one that doesn't leave behind society's marginalized and most vulnerable individuals. That means seeking out routes to diversity in the tech industry, while also designing products and services within an equity paradigm. Consumer privacy, and the need to respect it, was also a central sub-theme of this ye...
  • The far out and futuristic cars of CES

    The far out and futuristic cars of CES

    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...
  • 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

    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...
  • Five battlefields of the electric vehicle industry

    Five battlefields of the electric vehicle industry

    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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