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Stevens engineers design fetal heart monitor that could detect early signs of pregnancy complications

Post Syndicated from Stevens Institute of Technology original https://spectrum.ieee.org/biomedical/devices/stevens-engineers-design-fetal-heart-monitor-that-could-detect-early-signs-of-pregnancy-complications

A baby’s heartbeat can be detected as early as six weeks into pregnancy. From around 12 weeks until birth, doctors will listen to the fetus’ heartbeat at every prenatal appointment to closely monitor the baby’s health. But what if fetal heart activity changes in between these appointments, while the doctor isn’t there to listen? Engineers at Stevens Institute of Technology have designed a wearable device that continuously monitors fetal activity—even from home—in order to detect early signs of complications and allow for prompt, potentially life-saving interventions.

“If we can monitor fetal heart rate continuously, when the mother is sleeping and so forth, there may be signs that show complications,” said Negar Tavassolian, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering who is leading this research at the Schaefer School of Engineering and Science. “We can recognize these signs ahead of time and warn the mother to go see the doctor, whereas if she just relies on the doctor’s visits alone, then a lot of things can go wrong in between.”

The device is comprised of a few small patches that are applied to the belly along the abdominal wall. The main patch measures fetal heart rate and movement through

seismo
-cardiogram and gyro-cardiogram recordings, while the two adjacent patches are sensors used to negate external interference to the signal from sources other than the targeted fetal heartbeats. This might come from maternal activities such as motion, speech, organ activities, and even the mother’s heartbeat, and external environmental sounds.

“There have been several modalities [to monitor fetal activity] that have been proposed, but the missing part is that these modalities suffer from noise—that is, external interference,” said graduate student Chenxi Yang, who is working with Tavassolian on this research. “We believe that our technology can help with that, both in terms of sensing and algorithm development. We’re not inventing a new technology to substitute an old one; rather, we are combining old and new technologies and developing them to a new level.”

In earlier phases of the study, Tavassolian’s team used their technology for cardiovascular monitoring of adults. They have now expanded their work to detect the vibration of a fetal heart. While there are some other sensing technologies proposed using electrodes, there is nothing of this nature being widely used right now.

“What we want to monitor is the heartbeat of the fetus, the contractions of the mother, and the movement of the fetus. The heartbeat develops early, and we detect movement during later stages of pregnancy. So far, we have done tests later in pregnancy, but we want to see how early we can go,” said Yang.

Currently, trials are being conducted at a clinic at New York University–Langone Medical Center in healthy women with low-risk pregnancies in order to validate the accuracy of the metrics being measured—but the monitor would be especially helpful for use in high-risk pregnancies. Women who have had multiple

pregnancies have
a higher risk of miscarriages and stillbirths with each subsequent pregnancy. This is partially due to the older age of the mother and is also dependent upon the conditions of previous births.

The period after 32 weeks of gestation is a time when it is especially important to prevent pregnancy complications.

“Currently, the available interventions when a preterm birth is detected is relatively effective after 32 weeks of gestation,” said Tavassolian. “The survival rate of babies is high after 32 weeks, while it is not before 32 weeks. However, there is not sufficient early detection at this term. So it makes more sense to target

preterm
birth detection to this population as the first step because there are effective interventions after the detection. In this way, our proposed technology could be beneficial to the current point-of-care system. In the long run, we will then target earlier gestational weeks, which might give clinical and research values to the doctors in the long-term.”

If complications arise, a fetus may compensate for a loss of heart function with an increased heart rate. If this happens, the monitoring device could alert a mother to see her doctor before her next scheduled appointment.

Depending upon the nature of the potential complication, a number of interventions may be applied. Sometimes bed rest may be advised. If there is reduced activity

at
later stages of pregnancy, then a combination of medication and surgery may be needed. The key is to identify the onset of a compromise as early as possible, whether it be in the fetus’ heartbeat or movements, or in the mother’s contractions.

At this stage of research, Tavassolian’s team can accurately monitor fetal heart rate and movement while a mother is lying on her back. “We have validated the technologies separately,” said Tavassolian, “and now we need to utilize machine learning to diminish

noise
. The next step is to analyze patterns to identify the onset of a compromise.”

“We are trying to objectively provide information for the doctors to help them determine the best way to prevent severe outcomes,” said Yang. “We are engineers, so we discuss [prenatal needs] with doctors, and they tell us their

healthcare
needs from the medical aspect. They help us with the big picture of the design.”

Meet the Volocity

Post Syndicated from LEMO original https://spectrum.ieee.org/transportation/alternative-transportation/meet-the-volocity

Presented in last August, the VoloCity is the latest solution proposed by Volocopter, the first designed for actual commercial use. All of its features (number of seats, range, speed…) are related to its mission: to be an inner-city flying taxi and nothing else.

The choice of simplicity, for instance (such as direct-drive motors and fixed pitch rotors) makes the solution less costly to manufacture, more reliable (less expensive maintenance and easier to certify), lighter, so more economical and less noisy. Everything is closely linked.

The wide span and a large number of battery-powered engines and rotors (18 of each) reduce the noise level and generate a frequency that is softer and more pleasant on the ear. It also improves safety: the VoloCity is capable of flying even if several engines are inoperative. The aircraft will fly at “only” 110kmph, which is safer (better collision avoidance) and less noisy than rapid eVTOLs.

One passenger and the pilot have access and are seated comfortably (Volocopter’s analyses show that the large majority of intra-urban passengers travel alone). There is space for hand luggages, air conditioning, silence and a stunning view. Once the regulations will authorise it, the VoloCity will also be able to fly autonomously.

The VoloCity embarks 9 Lithium-ion exchangeable battery packs. These are recharged on the vertiports. Whenever the aircraft lands in between two flights, batteries can be changed in five minutes to fresh batteries and can take off. Its 35km range makes it possible to connect the most popular destinations (city centres, airports, business centres …).

Vertical take-off and landing, so no need for wheels nor retractable landing gear. The skids are part of the rationalisation process to reduce weight, breakdowns, production and maintenance costs. Ground operations are ensured by conveyor belts or platforms.

Key numbers

DIAMETER OF THE ROTOR RIM (INCLUDING ROTORS)

11.3 M

DIAMETER OF A SINGLE ROTOR

2.3 M

HEIGHT

2.5 M

NUMBER OF MOTORS & ROTORS

18

SEATS

2

PAYLOAD

200 KG

SPEED

110 KM/H

RANGE

35 KM

Why Small Business Owners Should Consider Life Insurance

Post Syndicated from Mercer original https://spectrum.ieee.org/at-work/tech-careers/why-small-business-owners-should-consider-life-insurance

As a small business owner, there are many important decisions you’ll have to make—from billing/accounting to marketing to choosing the right types of insurance to protect your business.

Most small business owners realize they need basic business insurance, including general liability and property damage coverage. Unfortunately, many small business owners don’t often think about obtaining life insurance to protect their business.

That’s because life insurance is typically thought of as just financial protection for your family. But it can protect more!

What if you were to die unexpectedly? What would happen to the business you’ve worked hard to achieve? Would you want your loved ones to keep your business running or “close” its doors? How will your loved ones pay off any business debt you owe?

Life insurance for a small business owner can provide funds to keep your business doors “open” and pay off any business loans or debt you’ve accumulated. In addition, funds from life insurance coverage can help pay the rent and other office expenses. It can also be used to fund a salary to hire someone to help takeover the everyday operations of your business.

Benefits of Life Insurance

If you have a family and are the sole owner of your business (or have just one partner), life insurance may be all you need. It can be used to cover both your family and your business.

Since you can name your beneficiaries, you can list a spouse, other loved ones and/or a business partner. By doing so, your spouse and other loved ones could receive proceeds you designated to help replace your income and all you do for your family, while your business partner could also receive a portion of your proceeds to keep the business running and pay off any debt.

Level Term Life Insurance is a popular choice for small business owners for two main reasons:

  • It makes it easy to protect your family and business with one benefit amount that remains the same for the duration of your coverage.
  • It features fixed rates that won’t change for the life of your coverage. Rates won’t increase or decrease—making it easy to fit within your family and business budgets.

IEEE Offers an Affordable Option

As an IEEE member, you have access to a variety of insurance benefits designed to protect you, your family and your business, including the IEEE Member Group 10-Year Level Term Life Insurance Plan. It features high amounts of coverage and fixed rates to help protect both your family and business. For more details, visit www.IEEEinsurance.com.

Visit www.ieeeinsurance.com  for more material.

This information is provided by the IEEE Member Group Member Insurance Program Administrator, Mercer Health & Benefits Administration, LLC, in partnership with IEEE to provide IEEE Members with important insurance, health and lifestyle information.

*Including features, costs, eligibility, renewability, limitations, and exclusions.

The IEEE Member Group Term Life Insurance Plan is available in the U.S. (except territories), Puerto Rico and Canada (except Quebec). This plan is underwritten by New York Life Insurance Company, 51 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10010 on Policy Form GMR

The IEEE Member Group Insurance Program is administered by:

Mercer Health & Benefits Administration LLC, 12421 Meredith Drive, Urbandale, IA 50398

In CA d/b/a Mercer Health & Benefits Insurance Services LLC

AR Insurance License #100102691 CA Insurance License #0G39709

87573 (11/19) Copyright 2019 Mercer LLC. All rights reserved.

LEMO-The Sky Is the Limit

Post Syndicated from LEMO original https://spectrum.ieee.org/transportation/alternative-transportation/lemo-the-sky-is-the-limit

Eight years ago, when Alex Zosel cofounded his start-up, the idea of electric air taxis seemed completely crazy. Today, however, some cities are already testing them. Volocopter’s founder explains why urban transport should turn to the sky and how his start-up wants to become more than just an aircraft manufacturer. 

Alex Zosel, how will urban mobility evolve?

Urban mobility will undergo a huge transformation in the next 20 to 30 years. Following an already perceptible trend, private means of transport will be increasingly chosen for environmental reasons (efficiency, low emission…) rather than for ego-boosting (power, speed…). Many new devices will appear or co-exist: we will see cable cars, e-scooters, conveyor belts, streets dedicated to fast bikes, etc. This evolution will certainly also depend on the evolution of society and work. New technologies could very well reduce working hours, the workforce, increase teleworking – all this will have an impact on traffic.

How does Volocopter position itself in this evolution?

We believe that in megacities with saturated roads and major traffic flow issues, the only viable solution will be the sky! We want to be one of the big players, one of the drivers in urban air mobility. This is why we talk a lot about the transformation of cities with architects and infrastructure specialists. On the one hand, we are thinking in the long term – imagining a future with thousands of aircraft in the city skies. On the other hand, in the short term, the first solutions, the first missions: where are the current needs for flying taxis? Where would they really make a positive impact in terms of mobility? It is on these short-term solutions that we will gradually build up the ecosystem of urban air mobility.

Which missions are you focusing on first?

On combating bottlenecks in megacities. They represent a highly critical situation that flying taxis could rapidly improve. For instance, by transporting people between airports and city centres, or between tourist attractions – an issue in a large number of cities. It wouldn’t be necessary to transport everyone through the skies, but relieving some roads could rapidly help the whole system to flow better.

Short hops and no long-distance commuting, unlike the market targeted by the Uber Elevate system?

We want to fly between cities one day, but we believe that flying in inner cities would fix a more urgent problem. There is also a technological reason for this choice: we want a reliable solution now, using tried and tested, already existing batteries, which do not provide for flying over long distances. The limited range of our aircraft – 35km – is not a problem: our analysis shows that 90% of the megacities we are targeting have a major airport within 30km of the city centre. Therefore, millions of journeys are within our reach.

Your targeted mission also influences some other design aspects of your solution…

Our aircraft is fully designed for this mission. Its extensive propulsion system including 18 engines, for example, makes it extremely quiet and reliable (it can fly even if several engines aren’t functioning). Noise and safety are the major criteria for being approved in cities. Our speed of 110km/h is also important: flying twice as fast would be terrifying, dangerous, much noisier and, considering the short distances, it wouldn’t really be a time-saver.

Are eVTOLs appropriate from the environmental point of view?

They are zero emission which is already great. Obviously, they require more energy for taking off than a car on a flat surface. On the other hand, there is no need to build roads, bridges, tunnels – all these costly infrastructures which then generate huge maintenance costs. If you add the impact of these infrastructures to the impact of vehicles, it is clearly more efficient to go up into the sky! Slowing down or decreasing the development of the road network also makes it possible to save or reintroduce nature into cities.

Launching innovative new means of transport is often hindered by the rules which have to be created or adopted…

How about integration in air traffic?

This is more of a local thing: the selection of routes, weather conditions, altitudes, coexistence with drones and helicopters… Again, we have a lot of experience, namely thanks to our cooperation with the Dubai government’s Roads and Transport Authority. They asked us to participate in a project for autonomous flying devices in the airspace over their city. The feasibility of such a service was proven after a successful test with our Volocopter 2X in September 2017. This was the first-ever public flight of an autonomous urban air taxi. We are currently working with Singapore authorities, who are also interested.

So, it is city by city that Volocopter develops its projects?

Yes. Many cities have already asked us to become technical partners to advise on how to develop urban air mobility infrastructures and services. Therefore, they are motivated and very much involved. They dedicate the necessary resources and it can quickly go forward – we have no fear of not getting approvals. We start off with a first route from A to B, as a first step. Whatever happens afterwards, Volocopter can always learn a lot and it helps us to extend our offer.

Do you also work with airport operators, such as Skyport?

Yes, indeed. Not only for the integration of air taxis in their territory, but also for integrating our services with theirs. We could imagine for instance that check-in for an international flight would be possible upon embarking at a vertiport in the city. It would relieve traffic in their departure area.

The way you describe it, it would seem that Volocopter will provide services, rather than just aircraft…

You are exactly right. From the beginning, we never wanted to be a manufacturer of vehicles. We want to be a mobility provider, to sell the tickets. Everything beneath that is based on very strong local partnerships, with the authorities, real estate players, airport operators or helicopter companies, whose launch pads we could use. In a nutshell, we have to associate with all of those to ensure the smooth integration of flying taxi services in a city. At the same time, our vertiport projects are not exclusive: other eVTOLs could also use them. Volocopter could even buy or rent aircraft from other manufacturers. We are really open – we wouldn’t be able to create an air-mobility system if we were exclusive. Our eVTOLs have a head-start, so we will start with them to be the first on the market. Then we will see how to increase the scale.

When will these air taxis be part of our daily lives?

They have been part of my daily life for years, since I am one of the test pilots! I think the first regular route will be opened in 2 to 3 years. The speed of their implementation will depend on several factors, including the production capacity of eVTOL manufacturers! By the time I retire in 13 years, we should have a system of flying taxis in at least 10 mega– cities. If not, well, in that case I will have to retire five years late!

LEMO-The Sky Is the Limit

Post Syndicated from LEMO original https://spectrum.ieee.org/transportation/alternative-transportation/lemothe-sky-is-the-limit

Eight years ago, when Alex Zosel cofounded his start-up, the idea of electric air taxis seemed completely crazy. Today, however, some cities are already testing them. Volocopter’s founder explains why urban transport should turn to the sky and how his start-up wants to become more than just an aircraft manufacturer. 

Alex Zosel, how will urban mobility evolve?

Urban mobility will undergo a huge transformation in the next 20 to 30 years. Following an already perceptible trend, private means of transport will be increasingly chosen for environmental reasons (efficiency, low emission…) rather than for ego-boosting (power, speed…). Many new devices will appear or co-exist: we will see cable cars, e-scooters, conveyor belts, streets dedicated to fast bikes, etc. This evolution will certainly also depend on the evolution of society and work. New technologies could very well reduce working hours, the workforce, increase teleworking – all this will have an impact on traffic.

How does Volocopter position itself in this evolution?

We believe that in megacities with saturated roads and major traffic flow issues, the only viable solution will be the sky! We want to be one of the big players, one of the drivers in urban air mobility. This is why we talk a lot about the transformation of cities with architects and infrastructure specialists. On the one hand, we are thinking in the long term – imagining a future with thousands of aircraft in the city skies. On the other hand, in the short term, the first solutions, the first missions: where are the current needs for flying taxis? Where would they really make a positive impact in terms of mobility? It is on these short-term solutions that we will gradually build up the ecosystem of urban air mobility.

Which missions are you focusing on first?

On combating bottlenecks in megacities. They represent a highly critical situation that flying taxis could rapidly improve. For instance, by transporting people between airports and city centres, or between tourist attractions – an issue in a large number of cities. It wouldn’t be necessary to transport everyone through the skies, but relieving some roads could rapidly help the whole system to flow better.

Short hops and no long-distance commuting, unlike the market targeted by the Uber Elevate system?

We want to fly between cities one day, but we believe that flying in inner cities would fix a more urgent problem. There is also a technological reason for this choice: we want a reliable solution now, using tried and tested, already existing batteries, which do not provide for flying over long distances. The limited range of our aircraft – 35km – is not a problem: our analysis shows that 90% of the megacities we are targeting have a major airport within 30km of the city centre. Therefore, millions of journeys are within our reach.

Your targeted mission also influences some other design aspects of your solution…

Our aircraft is fully designed for this mission. Its extensive propulsion system including 18 engines, for example, makes it extremely quiet and reliable (it can fly even if several engines aren’t functioning). Noise and safety are the major criteria for being approved in cities. Our speed of 110km/h is also important: flying twice as fast would be terrifying, dangerous, much noisier and, considering the short distances, it wouldn’t really be a time-saver.

Are eVTOLs appropriate from the environmental point of view?

They are zero emission which is already great. Obviously, they require more energy for taking off than a car on a flat surface. On the other hand, there is no need to build roads, bridges, tunnels – all these costly infrastructures which then generate huge maintenance costs. If you add the impact of these infrastructures to the impact of vehicles, it is clearly more efficient to go up into the sky! Slowing down or decreasing the development of the road network also makes it possible to save or reintroduce nature into cities.

Launching innovative new means of transport is often hindered by the rules which have to be created or adopted…

Integrating this aspect is part of Volocopter’s DNA: we have been discussing with the authorities for over 7 years about how to integrate eVTOLs. In general, the authorities are fairly open: they want to make flights safer, which is exactly what sensors and automated systems built in the heart of eVTOLs provide for. We have been partners of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) for two years. We have helped to integrate air taxis flying in inner cities – which could also fly autonomously – in these regulations. Similarly, we have been working with the US Federal Aviation Administration, whose processes are somewhat more complex and extensive. The “Special Condition for VTOL” of the EASA was presented in early July and we are very proud to have contributed to it. The VoloCity, our new aircraft, will be the first commercially licensed Volocopter accredited to these high standards and requirements. Simply put, the safety requirements are that flying taxis will have to be as safe as commer- cial aircraft. They shall be.

How about integration in air traffic?

This is more of a local thing: the selection of routes, weather conditions, altitudes, coexistence with drones and helicopters… Again, we have a lot of experience, namely thanks to our cooperation with the Dubai government’s Roads and Transport Authority. They asked us to participate in a project for autonomous flying devices in the airspace over their city. The feasibility of such a service was proven after a successful test with our Volocopter 2X in September 2017. This was the first-ever public flight of an autonomous urban air taxi. We are currently working with Singapore authorities, who are also interested.

So, it is city by city that Volocopter develops its projects?

Yes. Many cities have already asked us to become technical partners to advise on how to develop urban air mobility infrastructures and services. Therefore, they are motivated and very much involved. They dedicate the necessary resources and it can quickly go forward – we have no fear of not getting approvals. We start off with a first route from A to B, as a first step. Whatever happens afterwards, Volocopter can always learn a lot and it helps us to extend our offer.

Do you also work with airport operators, such as Skyport?

Yes, indeed. Not only for the integration of air taxis in their territory, but also for integrating our services with theirs. We could imagine for instance that check-in for an international flight would be possible upon embarking at a vertiport in the city. It would relieve traffic in their departure area.

The way you describe it, it would seem that Volocopter will provide services, rather than just aircraft…

You are exactly right. From the beginning, we never wanted to be a manufacturer of vehicles. We want to be a mobility provider, to sell the tickets. Everything beneath that is based on very strong local partnerships, with the authorities, real estate players, airport operators or helicopter companies, whose launch pads we could use. In a nutshell, we have to associate with all of those to ensure the smooth integration of flying taxi services in a city. At the same time, our vertiport projects are not exclusive: other eVTOLs could also use them. Volocopter could even buy or rent aircraft from other manufacturers. We are really open – we wouldn’t be able to create an air-mobility system if we were exclusive. Our eVTOLs have a head-start, so we will start with them to be the first on the market. Then we will see how to increase the scale.

When will these air taxis be part of our daily lives?

They have been part of my daily life for years, since I am one of the test pilots! I think the first regular route will be opened in 2 to 3 years. The speed of their implementation will depend on several factors, including the production capacity of eVTOL manufacturers! By the time I retire in 13 years, we should have a system of flying taxis in at least 10 mega– cities. If not, well, in that case I will have to retire five years late!

Dust in Space

Post Syndicated from University of Maryland original https://spectrum.ieee.org/aerospace/astrophysics/dust-in-space

On Earth, no natural phenomenon is quite as dependable as gravity. Even a child playing on a beach knows that the sand she is excavating will just sit there in her trowel, pulled downward by this powerful force.

But on small, low-gravity celestial bodies like asteroids, the rules of gravity that we know so well no longer apply—at least, not in the ways that we’re used to. And that’s a problem for the scientists who collect samples of regolith, the dusty or pebbly material found on the surfaces of these bodies.

Asteroids are remnants of the early solar system: essentially chunks of material that did not become planets. Regolith samples from asteroids and other small celestial bodies are critical for researchers to better understand how the solar system began, and how it has evolved since.

“Gravity is so weak on the surface of these bodies that our intuition fails,” says Christine Hartzell, an assistant professor of aerospace engineering at the University of Maryland’s A. James Clark School of Engineering. “And there’s a large degree of uncertainty in which other forces are important, and how strong they are.”

In the absence of strong gravitational influences, even electrostatic forces that would be considered weak to negligible on Earth may hold outsized importance in space. Hartzell, a participating scientist on the OSIRIS-REx mission currently orbiting the asteroid Bennu, studies these electrostatic forces. A better understanding of electrostatic forces on particles improves understanding of the natural evolution of asteroids and helps inform the design of sampling methods and instruments on future asteroid exploration missions.

Electrostatic forces occur when oppositely charged particles interact with each other. This causes regolith particles to behave curiously in three ways.

First, they cause dusty particles that rub against each other to stick together, or clump. Second, dust exposed to the flow of charged particles from solar wind plasma can detach, or loft away from the surface, drawn to opposite charges in the solar wind flowing past. Third, particles can levitate after being kicked up by a small meteorite impact or blasted by a visiting spacecraft, because the electrostatic forces on those particles cancel out any gravitational pull.

And it’s possible that it’s not just tiny dust particles that may behave unusually—but larger grains, due to the extremely weak effects of gravity on asteroids, as well.

The catch, however, is that none of these behaviors have been directly observed in space, nor the forces causing them to occur measured there. Though Hartzell’s work has demonstrated these forces in laboratory experiments, many questions remain about what they look like on an asteroid, to what degree electrostatic forces affect dust behavior, how strong those forces are, and how the presence of a spacecraft in close proximity to an asteroid’s surface might change the environment.

Whether or not lofting occurs depends on the strength of the forces causing particles to stick together and, by extension, to other objects, such as spacecraft surfaces and optics. Hartzell is developing an experimental method to measure this cohesion.

How the method will work: an electrically charged plate is placed at a set distance above a surface with dusty particles, in an area of known gravity. By controlling the height and electrical charge of the plate, the electrostatic forces on the dust grains can be controlled. A camera is used to observe the size of dust grains and when they begin to be drawn to the plate. By controlling the electrostatic force and knowing the gravity, the unknown, cohesive force can be mathematically derived.

Hartzell’s method could potentially be used for actual sampling, as well. She suggests that charged plates could be used to attract dust samples, then drop them into sample collectors or directly onto analysis instruments by removing the plate’s charge.

More likely, however, is that the method might be employed to better characterize the surface of a site intended for longer-term use by, for example, an asteroid mining mission. Early planning stages would involve understanding the chemistry and behavior of any dusty surface, including how its cohesive properties may affect the function of tools like drill bits.

Harnessing electrostatic forces to control dusty particles might also mean cleaner, better functioning solar panels on Mars. An electrostatic dust shield could use coils embedded in solar arrays to “bounce” dust grains off the surface via alternating electrical charges.

But for now, Hartzell’s work involves a lot of creative lab experimentation and lab-based modeling, but with one goal in mind.

“We want to keep the spacecraft safe during operations,” she says.

How to Solve EMI Effects of a 5G Smartphone

Post Syndicated from IEEE Spectrum Recent Content full text original https://spectrum.ieee.org/whitepaper/how-to-solve-emi-effects-of-a-5g-smartphone

Electromagnetic interference (EMI) affects the performance of electronics and is a critical consideration in the design of new 5G user equipment (UE). ANSYS examines potential EMI issues with an integrated phased array antenna on a DDR4 bus of a 5G smartphone. Download the white paper to learn how.

photo

5 Challenges of Wideband 5G Device Test

Post Syndicated from National Instruments original https://spectrum.ieee.org/telecom/internet/5-challenges-of-wideband-5g-device-test

1. Waveforms Are Wider and More Complex

5G New Radio includes two different types of waveforms:

  • Cyclic-prefix OFDM (CP-OFDM) for downlink and uplink
  • Discrete Fourier transform spread OFDM (DFT-S-OFDM) for uplink only; this waveform resembles LTE’s single-carrier frequency division multiple access (SC-FDMA)

Researchers and engineers working on 5G device test have the new challenges of creating, distributing, and generating 5G waveforms among their design and test benches. Engineers need to work with highly complex, standard-compliant uplink and downlink signals that have larger bandwidths than ever before. They include a variety of different resource allocations; modulation and coding sets; demodulation, sounding, and phase-tracking information; and single-carrier and contiguous and non-contiguous carrier-aggregated configurations.

Design tip: Select a 5G standard-compliant toolset that allows you to generate, analyze, and share these waveforms between test benches to fully characterize your DUTs.

2. Instruments Must Be Wideband and Linear, and They Must Cost-effectively Cover an Extensive Frequency Range

Although RF engineers have been working with specialized and expensive test systems for mmWave in industries such as aerospace and military, this represents unexplored territory for the mass-market semiconductor industry. Engineers need cost-effective test equipment to configure more test benches for a shorter time to market. These new benches must support high linearity; tight amplitude and phase accuracy over large bandwidths; low phase noise; extensive frequency coverage for multiband devices; and the ability to test for coexistence with other wireless standards. Along with powerful hardware, modular, software-based test and measurement benches will be able to adapt rapidly to new test requirements. 

Design tip: Invest in a wideband test platform that can evaluate performance in both existing and new frequency bands. Select instrumentation that not only supports coexistence with current standards but also adapts to the evolution of the standard over time.

3. Component Characterization and Validation Require More Testing

Working with wide signals below 6 GHz and at mmWave frequencies requires characterizing and validating greater performance out of RF communications components. Engineers must not only test innovative designs for multiband power amplifiers, low-noise amplifiers, duplexers, mixers, and filters, but also ensure that new and improved RF signal chains support simultaneous operation of 4G and 5G technologies. Additionally, to overcome significant propagation losses, mmWave 5G requires beamforming subsystems and antenna arrays, which demand fast and reliable multiport test solutions.

Design tip: Ensure your test systems can handle both multiband and multichannel 5G devices to address beamformers, FEMs, and transceivers.

4. Over-the-air Testing of Massive MIMO and Beamforming Systems Makes Traditional Measurements Spatially Dependent

Engineers working on 5G beamforming devices face the challenge of characterizing the transmit and receive paths and improving the reciprocity for TX and RX. For example, as the transmit power amplifier goes into compression, it introduces amplitude, phase shifts, and other thermal effects that the LNA in the receiver path would not produce. Additionally, the tolerances of phase shifters, variable attenuators, gain control amplifiers, and other devices could cause unequal phase shifts between channels, which affects the anticipated beam patterns. Measuring these effects requires over-the-air (OTA) test procedures that make traditional measurements like TxP, EVM, ACLR, and sensitivity spatially dependent.

Design tip: Use OTA test techniques that synchronize fast and precise motion control and RF measurements to more accurately characterize 5G beamforming systems without exceeding your test time budget.

5. High-volume Production Test Demands Fast and Efficient Scaling

New 5G applications and industry verticals will exponentially increase the number of 5G components and devices that manufacturers need to produce per year. Manufacturers are challenged by the need to provide quick ways to calibrate the multiple RF paths and antenna configurations of new devices and accelerate the OTA solutions for reliable and repeatable manufacturing test results. However, for volume production of RFICs, traditional RF chambers can take up much of the production floor space, disrupt material handling flows, and multiply capital expenses. To tackle these problems, OTA-capable IC sockets—small RF enclosures with an integrated antenna—are now commercially available. These provide semiconductor OTA test functionality in a reduced form factor. 

Design tip: Select an ATE platform that extends lab-grade 5G instrumentation to the production floor to simplify the correlation of characterization and production test data.

Technical White Paper

Engineer’s Guide to 5G Semiconductor Test

Wideband 5G IC test is complex. The Engineer’s Guide to 5G Semiconductor Test is here to help. A must-read for anyone navigating the time, cost, and quality trade-offs of sub-6 GHz and mmWave IC test, the guide features color diagrams, recommended test procedures, and tips for avoiding common mistakes.

Topics include:

  • Working with wide 5G downlink and uplink OFDM waveforms
  • Configuring wideband test benches for extensive frequency coverage
  • Avoiding common sources of error in 5G beamforming
  • Reducing test times of over-the-air TX and RX test procedures
  • Choosing alternatives to RF chambers for high-volume production of mmWave RFICs

 Download the Engineer’s Guide to 5G Semiconductor Test

UAV-Based LiDAR Can Measure Shallow Water Depth

Post Syndicated from SBG Systems original https://spectrum.ieee.org/robotics/drones/uavbased-lidar-can-measure-shallow-water-depth

World’s first small-scale topographic and bathymetric scanning LiDAR

ASTRALiTe’s edge™ is the world’s first small-scale topographic and bathymetric scanning LiDAR that can detect small underwater objects, measure shallow water depth, and survey critical underwater infrastructure from a small UAV platform.

The edge™ can see beneath the water surface at depths from 0-5 meters and is completely self-contained with its own Inertial Navigation System with GNSS, battery, and onboard computer. It weighs about 5 kg and is designed for deployment on UAV systems for faster, safer, and more accurate bathymetric surveys. This patented 2-in-1 topographic and bathymetric LiDAR offers a centimeter-level depth resolution. There are numerous possible applications for this LiDAR, such as coastal mapping and surveying, infrastructure inspection, or even military logistics. 

Importance of geo-referencing and motion stabilization

“We needed a motion and navigation solution for our LiDAR. Our requirements included high accuracy along with low size, weight, and power” explains Andy Gisler, Director of Lidar Systems with ASTRALiTe. In addition, the system needed to be able to apply Post-Processing Kinematic (PPK) corrections to the LiDAR data to provide higher accuracy results to ASTRALiTe’s customers.

The LiDAR provides a comprehensive point cloud that needs to be motion-compensated and geo-referenced to be usable. Two methods can be used to reach the centimeter-level accuracy requested by surveyors. The first one is Real-Time Kinematic (RTK), which makes use of corrections obtained from a base station or a base station network in real-time thanks to a radio or a GSM link. The second one is used after the mission using a PPK software. This software will apply the same correction as RTK, but it will also re-compute all the inertial data and raw GNSS observables with a forward-backward-merge algorithm to correct all the trajectories, fill any loss of position, and greatly improve the overall accuracy.

ASTRALiTe chose SBG Systems’ dual antenna Ellipse2-D inertial navigation system which provides motion, RTK, and PPK. The weight of the INS/GNSS solution was especially important to ASTRALiTe as they were designing a system to be flown on most UAVs, where light payload capacities are required for UAV compatibility. The possibility to use two antennas was a key element to consider, as they required a robust heading even during slow-speed flights. In addition to this INS, they also use Qinertia, SBG Systems’ in-house post-processing software

This PPK software gives access to offline RTK corrections from more than 7,000 base stations located in 164 countries and is designed to help UAV integrators get the best of their GNSS or INS/GNSS solution.

About SBG Systems INS/GNSS

SBG Systems is an international company which develops Inertial Measurement Unit with embedded GNSS, from miniature to high accuracy ranges. Combined with cutting-edge calibration techniques and advanced embedded algorithms, SBG Systems manufactures inertial solutions for industrial & research projects such as unmanned vehicle control (land, marine, and aerial), antenna tracking, camera stabilization, and surveying applications.

Nonlinear Magnetic Materials Modeling Webinar

Post Syndicated from IEEE Spectrum Recent Content full text original https://spectrum.ieee.org/webinar/nonlinear-magnetic-materials-modeling

In this webinar, you will learn how to model ferromagnetic materials and other nonlinear magnetic materials in the COMSOL® software.

Ferromagnetic materials exhibit saturation and hysteresis. These factors are major challenges in the design of electric motors and transformers because they affect the iron loss. In addition, the loss of ferromagnetic properties at elevated temperatures (Curie temperatures) is an important nonlinear multiphysics effect in, for example, induction heating. It can also cause permanent material degradation in permanent magnet motors.

This webinar will demonstrate how to build high-fidelity finite element models of ferromagnetic devices using COMSOL Multiphysics®. The presentation concludes with a Q&A session.

PRESENTERS:

Magnus Olsson, Technology Manager, COMSOL

Magnus Olsson joined COMSOL in 1996 and currently leads development for the electromagnetic design products. He holds an MSc in engineering physics and a PhD in plasma physics and fusion research. Prior to joining COMSOL, he worked as a consulting specialist in electromagnetic computations for the Swedish armed forces.

 

Attendees of this IEEE Spectrum webinar have the opportunity to earn PDHs or Continuing Education Certificates!  To request your certificate you will need to get a code. Once you have registered and viewed the webinar send a request to [email protected] for a webinar code. To request your certificate complete the form here: http://innovationatwork.ieee.org/spectrum/

Attendance is free. To access the event please register.

NOTE: By registering for this webinar you understand and agree that IEEE Spectrum will share your contact information with the sponsors of this webinar and that both IEEE Spectrum and the sponsors may send email communications to you in the future.​

Envisioning the Future of Urban Transportation

Post Syndicated from University of Maryland original https://spectrum.ieee.org/transportation/alternative-transportation/envisioning-the-future-of-urban-transportation

Growing urbanization around the globe is creating increasingly difficult challenges in areas of transportation and energy, but engineers at the University of Maryland (UMD) think there are solutions in the promise of electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft.

Just a decade ago, the idea of air taxies and cityscapes equipped with “verti-port” stations may have seemed like the latest science fiction, but with the technical advances and commercial success of electric vehicles, eyes are turning to the sky to see how similar ideas of electric power and propulsion could create a new generation of lightweight air vehicles capable of moving people quietly, safely, and efficiently in dense urban environments.

“eVTOL has many advantages over traditional helicopters,” explains Anubhav Datta, an associate professor in UMD’s A. James Clark School of Engineering. “They don’t cause the pollution of traditional engines, have no engine noise, require fewer mechanical parts, and depending on the design could be easier to fly and more responsive to autonomy.”

While eVTOL technology is in its infancy, Datta has been involved from the start. He published the first peer-reviewed journal article demonstrating the viability of eVTOL by presenting conceptual designs for three all-electric options for a manned ultralight utility helicopter, and anticipating growth of the field. Since then, he has been instrumental in spearheading efforts to expand basic research in eVTOL, create pools of technical knowledge, and develop multidisciplinary education and outreach programs.

At Maryland, Datta and his graduate students are pursuing several projects addressing some of the principal barriers that prevent eVTOL from becoming a day-to-day reality.

One major barrier to eVTOL success is developing lightweight on-board electrical energy storage systems that would allow these aircraft to fly for longer periods with adequate reserves. According to Datta, lithium-ion batteries built for consumer electronics and automobiles are too low-energy to be a long-term solution. Batteries must be built to meet VTOL requirements or alternative sources of power explored, such as the work of Ph.D. student Emily Fisler, who is trying to quantify these requirements and explore more advanced chemistries for future batteries.

Datta, along with students Wanyi Ng and Mrinal Patil, are also exploring the application of hydrogen in fuel cells as a renewable and clean energy source. Hydrogen gas can store four to five times as much energy as current batteries, but the high power fuel stacks are heavy—so Datta’s team is looking at ways to maximize the energy benefits of hydrogen by using supplemental batteries to boost output during high-power loads, such as takeoff and landing.

Since 2017, UMD’s Department of Aerospace Engineering has won two multi-year research tasks on eVTOL funded jointly by the U.S. Army, NASA, and the U.S. Navy. As part of this work, Ph.D. student Brent Mills has built a unique hybrid-electric engine—capable of powering a scaled-down 50-pound VTOL aircraft to test and acquire data on electro-aero-mechanical behavior of the engine. Aircraft designers of the future can use this data in conceptualizing and building vehicles.

A key advantage of electric drives is that they do not require heavy, interconnecting mechanical shafts to drive more than one rotor. While multiple rotors are less efficient, they make an aircraft more stable and maneuverable, which could possibly reduce training times for future pilots and make them safer to operate in urban environments. In addition, being easier to control makes them more receptive to autonomous operation.

According to Datta, one critical advantage to UMD’s eVTOL research is the university’s historic Glenn L. Martin Wind Tunnel. Constructed in 1949, it is one of only a few tunnels its size on a university campus. This facility enables them to acquire truth-data from direct observation that is critical to the safe design of advanced rotorcraft, yet far beyond what the best computational tools can predict. Special-purpose rigs are needed to carry out model tests in the tunnel.

One such rig is the Maryland Tiltrotor Rig (MTR). Designed to study the aeromechanics of advanced prop-rotors and wing combinations, the MTR has a direct electric drive on the pylon so that data collected in the course of the project can also be applied to eVTOL. The MTR can test up to 4.75-foot diameter Mach-scaled rotors, features interchangeable blades and hubs turning at 2,500 revolutions per minute, and has interchangeable spars that can change the wing behavior.

“It is the only test rig of its kind on a university campus,” says Datta, “and the Ph.D. students who developed it are laying the foundations of the future of tiltrotor and eVTOL research at Maryland for the next decade.”

Datta was a member of the American Helicopter Society’s (AHS) inaugural eVTOL workshop in 2014, chaired the NASA Aeronautics Research Institute’s (NARI) Transformative Vertical Flight working group on intra-city Urban Air Mobility in 2016, and led the AHS in establishing eVTOL as a distinct technical discipline by founding the eVTOL Technical Committee in 2019. Chaired by Datta, this committee includes technical leaders from across industry, government, and several UMD alumni who have become leaders in the field of rotorcraft.

As part of these efforts, Datta, with support from the Vertical Flight Society (VFS, formerly AHS) and NASA, created the first formal education course in eVTOL now taught annually at the VFS Forum and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Aviation forum.

Datta believes that the promise of better utilization of airspace through eVTOL advancements could bring about more energy efficient transportation solutions, but there is a lot of research and expertise that still needs to be developed to propel this new field forward.  

“Through research efforts here at Maryland, we are not just building the future of eVTOL,” Datta says, “but we are providing opportunities for students to become the next generation of engineers that will have the knowledge and hands-on expertise to go out and be major contributors to that field.”

4D Bioprinting Smart Constructs for the Heart

Post Syndicated from University of Maryland original https://spectrum.ieee.org/biomedical/devices/4d-bioprinting-smart-constructs-for-the-heart

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of mortality worldwide, accounting for nearly 18 million deaths each year, according to the World Health Organization. In recent years, scientists have looked to regenerative therapies – including those that use 3D-printed tissue – to repair damage done to the heart and restore cardiac function.

Thanks to advancements in 3D-printing technology, engineers have applied cutting-edge bioprinting techniques to create scaffolds and cardiac tissue that, once implanted, can quickly integrate with native tissues in the body. While 3D bioprinting can create 3D structures made of living cells, the final product is static – it cannot grow or change in response to changes in its environment.

Conversely, in 4D bioprinting, time is the fourth dimension. Engineers apply 4D printing strategies to create constructs using biocompatible, responsive materials or cells that can grow or even change functionalities over time and in response to their environment. This technology could be a game-changer for human health, particularly in pediatrics, where 4D-printed constructs could grow and change as children age, eliminating the need for future surgeries to replace tissues or scaffolds that fail to do the same.

But, 4D bioprinting technology is still young. One of the critical challenges impacting the field is the lack of advanced 4D-printable bioinks – material used to produce engineered live tissue using printing technology – that not only meet the requirements of 3D bioprinting, but also feature smart, dynamic capabilities to regulate cell behaviors and respond to changes in the environment wherever they’re implanted in the body.

Recognizing this, researchers at George Washington University (GWU) and the University of Maryland’s A. James Clark School of Engineering are working together to shed new light on this burgeoning field. GWU Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Associate Professor Lijie Grace Zhang and UMD Fischell Department of Bioengineering Professor and Chair John Fisher were recently awarded a joint $550,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to investigate 4D bioprinting of smart constructs for cardiovascular study.  

Their main goal is to design novel and reprogrammable smart bioinks that can create dynamic 4D-bioprinted constructs to repair and control the muscle cells that make up the heart and pump blood throughout the body. The muscle cells they’re working with – human induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) derived cardiomyocytes – represent a promising stem cell source for cardiovascular regeneration.

In this study, the bioinks, and the 4D structures they’re used to create, are considered “reprogrammable” because they can be precisely controlled by external stimuli – in this case, by light – to contract and elongate on command in the same way that native heart muscle cells do with each and every heartbeat.

The research duo will use long-wavelength near-infrared (NIR) light to serve as the stimulus that prompts the 4D bioprinted structures into action. Unlike ultraviolet or visible light, long-wavelength NIR light could efficiently penetrate the bioprinted structures without causing harm to surrounding cells.

“4D bioprinting is at the frontier of the field of bioprinting,” Zhang said. “This collaborative research will expand our fundamental understanding of iPSC cardiomyocyte development in a dynamic microenvironment for cardiac applications. We are looking forward to a fruitful collaboration between our labs in the coming years.” 

“We are thrilled to work with Dr. Zhang and her lab to continue to develop novel bioinks for 3D- and 4D- printing,” Fisher said. “We are confident that the collaborative research team will continue to bring to light untapped printing strategies, particularly in regards to stem cell biology.” 

Moving forward, Zhang and Fisher hope to apply their 4D bioprinting technique to further study of the fundamental interactions between 4D structures and cardiomyocyte behaviors.

“The very concept of 4D bioprinting is so new that it opens up a realm of possibilities in tissue engineering that few had ever imagined,” Fisher said. “While scientists and engineers have a lot of ground to cover, 4D bioprinted tissue could one day change how we treat pediatric heart disease, or even pave the way to alternatives to donor organs.”

At GWU, Zhang leads the Bioengineering Laboratory for Nanomedicine and Tissue Engineering. At UMD, Fisher leads the Center for Engineering Complex Tissues, a joint research collaboration between UMD, Rice University, and the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Fisher is also the principal investigator of the Tissue Engineering and Biomaterials Lab, housed within the UMD Fischell Department of Bioengineering.

Stevens’ Prototype ‘Quantum Lock’ May Foreshadow the Next Super-Secure Applications

Post Syndicated from Stevens Institute of Technology original https://spectrum.ieee.org/telecom/security/stevens-prototype-quantum-lock-may-foreshadow-the-next-supersecure-applications

A line of onlookers stands before a video camera in Stevens Institute of Technology’s S.C. Williams Library, hopeful. Their task: crack a lock that could open, say, a safety deposit box or a bank account or a social security record. Each visitor stares intently into the camera lens. Nothing.

Then physics professor Yuping Huang strides up to the mark.

Click. The lock opens instantly.

image

“Fortunately,” smiles Huang, “I am one of only three people whose face is allowed by this system to unlock this lock.”

Facial locks are nothing new. Your phone probably has one, or soon will.

But what is remarkable is how this lock works — involving simultaneously creating twin particles of energy that somehow communicate with one another, across distances.

“These quantum properties are going to change the internet,” predicts Huang, who directs the university’s Center for Quantum Science & Engineering and works with graduate students including Lac Nguyen and Jeeva Ramanathan on the quantum lock project. “One big way it will do that is in the enabling of security applications like this one, except on much larger scales.

“If it turns out this technology can be deployed in our homes and offices, as we believe it can be, eavesdroppers will be nearly powerless to sneak into the ever-more connected networks of devices that help run our lives but also hold much of our personal data.”

Welcome to the weird world of quantum communications.

But how does the system work?

When people stand in front of the camera attached to the lock, the Stevens setup captures information about each person’s face and sends it over the internet to a server housed in a different part of the university. There, facial-recognition computations and matches are done using open-source software. (However, Huang’s team is also working on bringing quantum physics to that step, too; stay tuned.)

While this may seem like a pretty standard computation so far, a key distinction occurs in its networking security: the data exchanged between the two parties is secured by fundamental laws of physics.

As facial photos are taken by the video camera, lasers in Huang’s physics lab create twin photons — tiny, power-packed particles of energy — by splitting beams of light with special crystals.

The twin photons are then separated. One photon is kept in the lab while the other is sent through fiber-optic lines back to the library. Complex, secret “keys” are instantly generated as the photons are detected at each site; this process will ensure that the secure information meets up with a trusted partner at the other end of the transaction.

The keys serve as what’s known in cryptography as a “one-time pad”: a temporary, uncrackable code between the parties that encrypt the images and communications, preventing any hacker from intercepting them. 

“We don’t know why quantum properties work this way,” explains Huang, shaking his head. “Even Einstein didn’t know. But they work, always, so far as we can measure. And a whole host of computing, financial and security applications will be coming down the road in our lifetime to leverage the power of those properties.”

“This prototype demonstrates the drop-in compatibility of our quantum key-distribution system for secure networked devices,” agrees Nguyen. “Wider adoption of this technology could protect the communications of corporations, governments and intelligence services.

“Some of the potential applications we already see include corporate and government data centers; military base communications; voting processes; and smart-city monitors, to name just a few.”

The system could also bring secure privacy to the individual, adds the Stevens team, including for such applications as controlling systems in one’s home remotely; communicating with a corporate office from home, or securing a home wireless network.

Dream Your Future with CERN!

Post Syndicated from Cern original https://spectrum.ieee.org/computing/hardware/dream-your-future-with-cern

On 14 and 15 September CERN opened its doors to the public on the occasion of its Open Days, a unique opportunity to witness the incredible work going on behind the scenes of this unique organisation, whose mission is to answer the fundamental questions of the universe. More than 75,000 visitors of all ages and backgrounds came to CERN’s many visit points, with more than 100 activities, guided by 3,000 dedicated and passionate volunteers eager to share the wonders of this unique place to work.

CERN is the world’s largest particle physics research centre. It is an incredible place, with its myriad of accelerators, detectors, computing infrastructure and experiments that serve to research the origins of our universe. Seeing it for oneself is the only way to understand and realise the sheer enormity of what is going on here. We traditionally have over 110’000 visitors per year coming to CERN, numbers that grow all the time. It is a very popular place to visit at any time as its ranking on Tripadvisor confirms.

Every five years, CERN enters a ‘Long shutdown’ phase for essential upgrades and maintenance work which last several months, and this is the ideal opportunity to open CERN up to the public with its ‘Open days’, for people to see, experience and integrate what science on this scale actually looks like. The theme of these open days was “Explore the future with us”, with the aim to engage visitors in how we work at CERN, engage them in the process of science, human endeavour driven by values of openness, diversity and peaceful collaboration.

You can of course visit CERN at any time, although on a more reduced scale than the open days. While in operation, the Large Hadron Collider and detectors are clearly inaccessible. In the regular annual shutdown periods, limited underground visits are possible but cannot be guaranteed, however there are many interesting places to be visited above ground at all times, with free of charge visits and tours on offer. Furthermore, if coming in person is not feasible, people can take virtual tours notably of the LHC and the computing centre.

Who works at CERN? A common misconception about CERN is that all employees work in physics. CERN’s mission is to uncover the mysteries of our universe and is known as the largest physics laboratory in the world, so in many ways this misconception comes from a logical assumption. What is probably less tangible and less well understood by the public is that to achieve this level of cutting edge particle physics research, you need the infrastructure and tools to perform it: the accelerators, detectors, technology, computing and a whole host of other disciplines. CERN employs 2600 staff members to build, operate and maintain this infrastructure that is in turn used by a worldwide community of physicists to perform their world-class research.

Of the 2600 staff members, only 3% are research physicists – CERN’s core hiring needs are for engineers and technicians and support staff in a wide variety of disciplines, spanning electricity, mechanics, electronics, material science, vacuum, and of course computing. Let’s not forget that CERN is the birth place of the world wide web and advances in computing are key here – it’s a great place to work as a software or hardware engineer!

Working at CERN is enriching on so many levels, it is a privilege to be a part of this Organization which has such a noble mission, uniting people from all over the world with values that truly speak to me: diversity, commitment, creativity, integrity and professionalism. Every day is a new opportunity to learn, discover and grow. The benefits of working at CERN are plentiful, and the quality of life offered in the Geneva region is remarkable. We often say it’s working in a place like nowhere else on earth! So don’t hesitate to come find out for yourself, on a visit or … by joining us as a student, a graduate or a professional. Apply now and take part! https://careers.cern

Formula Student: The Crucial Role of the IMU/GNSS

Post Syndicated from Julie Laveissiere original https://spectrum.ieee.org/transportation/sensors/formula-student-the-crucial-role-of-the-imugnss

The Formula Student is an international educational engineering competition in which teams of students from around the world design, build, and race their own formula race cars. The competition includes 3 categories: Electric, Driverless, and Combustible cars. The challenge is not only to build the fastest race car, but also to show the best behavior in endurance, acceleration, or skid pad for example.  

As an expert in Inertial Navigation Systems and partner of several teams, SBG Systems interviewed various teams of engineers using SBG Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) combined with Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) to understand what the key elements to success are.

The Importance of the IMU/GNSS for Precise Car Dynamics

The IMU/GNSS provides decisive information on the car state such as position, speed, yaw rate, slip angle, acceleration and orientation to the competing teams’ cars, as stated by D. Kiesewalter, from AMZ Racing: “We required an IMU for several reasons. Primarily to determine the position state of our car. We also needed to have efficient dynamics control & a reliable and accurate determination of Euler Angles (roll, pitch, and heading).” This way, engineers of electric and combustible cars can understand what to improve by comparing the actual state to the theoretical one.

Mastering acceleration is primordial during Formula races. When the car accelerates too much, it can drift, which causes the wheels to wear out. To minimize tire wear and get the most of the engine’s power and performance, acceleration has to be checked.

Tracking the race car trajectory is essential. A circuit analysis is conducted thanks to the IMU/GNSS data, especially position, and helps determine if the car is well positioned inside the circuit or when turning.

Let’s not forget that the Formula Student is a race. One of the competition goals is to go faster on the track than the other teams. Speed is therefore a crucial factor to study, thanks to the IMU/GNSS. But it is even more important for electric race cars, as they need to track the consumed energy.

Driverless Race Cars: Taking the Best of Heading and Navigation out of the IMU/GNSS

If a single-antenna GPS based heading is enough for racing cars, driverless vehicles require a more precise heading provided by a dual-antenna GNSS/IMU. It allows faster initialization and delivers true heading even in stationary position. J. Liberal Huarte from UPC Driverless (ETSEIB) explains that heading and localization are essential for other parts of the equipment to function properly: When we operate with LiDAR technologies, the fact that you are headed 1 degree to one side or the other influences a lot the position. So, precise heading is a big requirement. And also, localization and mapping: it is very important to localize yourself in the X, Y.” Therefore, implementing a Dual GNSS/IMU in this type of race car is the best solution, as it provides true heading and position, which also helps stabilize the LiDAR.

Heading is as important as precise navigation for driverless race cars. Real Time Kinematic (RTK) allows an extremely accurate estimation of the position (1-2 cm). The more accurate the IMU/GNSS is, the more the car is able to stay in the circuit lane without drifting.

The IMU/GNSS also helps conduct a circuit analysis that determines if the car is well positioned and so optimizes the trajectory.

Less Implementation Time = More Time for the Whole Project

We have very small test time, so if it goes fast, we can go faster on the track and test more”, states A. Kopp, Vehicle Dynamics Control, TUfast Racing. Teams don’t have much time to integrate the different parts of the vehicle and to test them. As CAN and ROS framework are mainly used by automobile engineers, IMU/GNSS that can be part of such workflows can save tremendous time of development. A clean C library provided with examples is another way to help teams with their integration.

About SBG Systems IMU/GNSS

SBG Systems is an international company which develops Inertial Measurement Unit with embedded GNSS, from miniature to high accuracy ranges. Combined with cutting-edge calibration techniques and advanced embedded algorithms, SBG Systems manufactures inertial solutions for industrial & research projects such as unmanned vehicle control (land, marine, and aerial), antenna tracking, camera stabilization, and surveying applications.

  • SBG Systems supports new ways to design cars. Students are welcome to send their sponsorship application through our website.

Democratizing the MBSE Process for Safety-Critical Systems Using Excel

Post Syndicated from IEEE Spectrum Recent Content full text original https://spectrum.ieee.org/webinar/democratizing-the-mbse-process-for-safetycritical-systems-using-excel

Compliance with functional safety standards (ISO 26262, IEC 60601, ARP 4754…) is critically important in the design of complex safety-critical systems and requires close collaboration across multiple disciplines, processes and the supply chain. Systems engineering, using model based approaches, provides the rigor and consistency to develop a systems model as the “single source of truth”. However not all stakeholders are systems engineers, and even fewer are model-based systems engineers. All organizations have many players with specific skills and knowledge who have key roles that need to feed into the systems development process.

This webinar will introduce MapleMBSE, a recently-released tool that allows the use of Excel as a way of increasing effective engagement with the systems model by all stakeholders within the IBM Rhapsody eco-system. The resulting work-flow will enable engineers and developers not familiar with the MBSE paradigm to interact easily with a systems model in Excel, capturing and understanding the systems engineering information from the model, doing further analysis with the information, and adding further detail to the model. The presentation will include use-cases for the development of safety-critical systems, involving model-based safety analysis and FMEA.

The Case for Hybrid Beamforming in 5G mmWave Prototypes

Post Syndicated from National Instruments original https://spectrum.ieee.org/telecom/wireless/the-case-for-hybrid-beamforming-in-5g-mmwave-prototypes

Beam management, a defining feature in mmWave communications, entails highly directional and steerable beams in single- and multi-user scenarios. It will play a crucial role in the future of 5G wireless designs, because the 3GPP Release 15 specification outlines the basics of beam management. Likewise, the 3GPP Release 16 examines the real-world performance of phased array antennas in the context of beam management.

The mmWave systems with a large antenna count enable narrow beam patterns, and that makes antenna performance and beam characteristics important considerations in choosing the algorithms for beam management. This article will examine the real-world performance of phased array antennas in the context of beam management. It will also provide a design example of hardware prototyping for 5G system beamforming and beamsteering.

Starting with the beamforming basics: The traditional analog beamforming creates a single beam by applying a phase delay, or time delay, to each antenna element. Here, for multiple simultaneous beams, designers need to use a phase delay for each incoming signal and then add the beam.

On the other hand, in full digital beamforming, each antenna mandates a dedicated analog baseband channel, which, in turn, calls for a digital transceiver for each antenna. This adds to both cost and power consumption. Enter hybrid beamforming, which allows designers to keep the overall cost and power consumption lower.

Why Hybrid Beamforming

Hybrid beamforming combines analog beamforming with digital precoding to intelligently form the patterns transmitted from a large antenna array (Figure 2), and the same technique is used at the receive end to create desired receiver pattern.

Hybrid transceivers use a combination of analog beamformers in the RF and digital beamformers in the baseband domains, respectively, and that leads to fewer RF chains compared to the number of transmit elements. In other words, an architecture that is properly partitioned between the analog and digital domains.

The fact that hybrid beamforming uses a smaller number of RF chains, which otherwise have large power consumption, allows designers to use a larger number of antenna array elements while reducing energy consumption and system design complexity.

However, hybrid beamforming must include the precoding weights and RF phase shifts to meet the goal of improving the virtual connection between the base station and the user equipment (UE). Moreover, the precoder design mandates massive calculations such as the singular value decomposition (SVD) of the channel.

Here, a low complexity hybrid precoding algorithm employed for beamsteering operations utilizes array response vectors of the channel. The algorithm applies a set of array response vectors that are used to form the channel, so there is no need for complicated operations used in the traditional precoding algorithms.

The beamsteering algorithms are also critical in the capacity-based optimal beam set selection and in detecting the presence of unknown interference and noise. Additionally, they facilitate higher throughput by overcoming problems such as random beam blockage and misalignment.

mmWave Beamsteering Algorithms

In high-speed mmWave communications with large antenna arrays, frequent channel estimation is required because channel conditions vary rapidly. A vital part of channel estimation relates to an efficient beam searching in order to allow more time for data transmission.

Then, there is multi-beam selection, a crucial element in hybrid beamforming systems for frequency-selective fading channels. The impact of interference on network capacity due to highly narrow beams also poses serious challenges. It is therefore imperative that designers carefully examine the network capacity from both node capacity and antenna size standpoints.

Here, unlike the trial-and-error approach, which is time-consuming and does not easily adapt to change, beamsteering algorithms help engineers understand design constraints and account for them in the optimization process. They facilitate an arithmetic mean of signal yields, which, in turn, refines observations with minor noise effects and provide more accurate sparse multipath delay information.

These observations, for instance, regarding estimated multipath delay indices, are crucial in the selection of the analog beams. The beamsteering algorithms also play a vital role in phase control and beam tuning. They analyze the computational complexity and compare numerical results to deliver the best signal propagation and reception for mmWave communication channels.

Take the Hybrid Beamforming Testbed from National Instruments (NI), which moves signals from the analog to the digital domain using an mmWave Transceiver System (Figure 3). This off-the-shelf prototyping system allows engineers to validate radio performance by efficiently implementing the mmWave beamsteering algorithms.

Hybrid Beamforming Testbed

The 5G NR standard for mmWave frequencies uses a combination of computationally intensive algorithms to encode, decode, modulate, demodulate and multiplex signals. Here, NI’s mmWave Transceiver System, a software-defined radio (SDR) solution, can help implement beamforming algorithms for a variety of 5G prototyping use cases.

This modular prototyping system comprises a PXI Express chassis, controllers, a clock distribution module, high-performance FPGA modules, high-speed DACs and ADCs, LO and IF modules, and mmWave radio heads (Figure 4). The FPGA modules in the PXI chassis handle communication rules, error correction, decoding and encoding, and signal mapping.

Next, the baseband transceiver modules — along with the IF/LO modules transmit and receive signals to and from the mmWave heads, which can be connected to the phased arrays via a single SMK cable. Here, the LabVIEW software allows developers to configure different connectivity features in the digital domain of beamforming.

So, network designers can combine the transceiver system with a phased array to create off-the-shelf phased array prototype solutions. And they can map different computational tasks on multiple FPGAs and thus design and test beam algorithms for a wide variety of mmWave channels and network configurations.

For more on this, go to National Instruments’ website.

New Refinancing Option Offers a Reprieve from a Student Loan

Post Syndicated from Prodigy Finance original https://spectrum.ieee.org/at-work/education/new-refinancing-option-offers-a-reprieve-from-a-student-loan

Packing up and moving your life halfway across the world to further your career can cost a lot. Of course, an advanced degree is often the key to that career growth and the tuition for that degree likely represents the biggest cost. To meet those costs, people often turn to student loans secured in their home country.

Such was the case for Anupam Tetu, who had completed his bachelor’s degree in India and landed a good job in his home country. But Tetu had even greater aspirations. More than three years ago he moved to the United States to begin his studies in a master’s degree program at North Carolina State University.

After completing his master’s degree in engineering, Tetu found a job in the US. All was going as planned, except that Tetu was saddled with an unfavorable student loan for the equivalent of $45,000.

“I had to secure my student loan from India and pay for it in Indian rupees,” explained Tetu. “The interest rate was fairly high at 12.5% and had to be paid over a 10-year term. Maybe the worst thing about it was that my parents had to be cosigners on the loan, using their house as collateral.”

As a solution to the issue, Tetu considered refinancing the loan. Refinancing involves taking out a loan from another bank or financial institution to pay off the original loan, which is usually set at a high interest rate while the new loan offers a lower interest rate. Tetu knew this made financial sense, not just because the refinancing would give him a lower interest rate: It would also give him the flexibility to shorten the loan’s term from ten years to just three. But Tetu had neither US citizenship nor green card status to secure a refinancing loan with most US financial institutions.

“I knew refinancing could be a solution because it would offer me a lower interest rate,” said Tetu. “I never planned on making payments for 10 years on my loan, I just wanted to pay it off quickly and invest in other ways. It did not seem possible to do it because every bank I checked with required a US citizen as cosigner.”

Just when Tetu had resolved himself to being stuck in his current loan situation, he learned from his girlfriend, who had taken a student loan from Prodigy Finance, that Prodigy Finance was now refinancing student loans originating with foreign banks.

After six months at his new job in the US and without citizenship or a green card, he successfully applied for a refinancing loan from Prodigy. In less than two months from the time he made his initial application, Tetu refinanced his loan. His interest rate dropped to from 12.5% to 9% and he was able to remove his parents as cosigners.

“The reduction of my interest rate by 3.5% was a big deal,” said Tetu. “But knowing that my parents’ house is no longer collateral for the loan has been a big relief for me and my family.”

The longest part of the entire process was coordinating the transfer of funds from Prodigy Finance to his lender back in India. Tetu said he remained involved in the process simply to ensure that communications were running smoothly.

“I had concerns about coordination between my Indian bank and Prodigy Finance and potential money transfer issues,” said Tetu. “Prodigy has a good service team and they were responsive to my questions and concerns, so it wasn’t that big of a hassle.”

Tetu says that he has enthusiastically recommended this refinancing avenue to some of his friends and colleagues who have found themselves in similar circumstances. He believes that if there is a greater awareness of this option for recent graduates, who have found jobs but are still saddled with unfavorable loans from their home country, it would alleviate some hardships for these people.

Tetu added: “I think Prodigy can extend their reach by establishing partnerships with foreign-based consultancies that provide GRE/GMAT coaching. Alumni associations and a presence at career fairs would help too.”