Tag Archives: transportation

Remote-controlled Salmon Farms to Operate Off Norway by 2020

Post Syndicated from Tracy Staedter original https://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/transportation/marine/remotecontrolled-salmon-farms-to-operate-off-norway-by-2020

Giant, instrumented pens will monitor the health of millions of fish and feed them automatically

Tucked within Norway’s fjord-riddled coast, nearly 3,500 fish pens corral upwards of 400 million salmon and trout. Not only does the country raise and ship more salmonoid overseas than any other in the world (1.1 million tons in 2018), farmed salmon is Norway’s third largest export behind crude petroleum and natural gas. In a global industry expected to quintuple by 2050, farmed salmon is a fine kettle of fish.

But raising salmon is not without its challenges. Feeding them makes up half of all operational costs. Parasitic crustaceans called sea lice (Lepeophtheirus salmonis) make easy meals of captive fish, attaching to their bodies by suction and grazing on skin, blood and mucus. If they don’t kill the fish, some delousing methods, such as flushing fish with water, might. About 15 percent of farmed salmon die in traditional fish pens and sea lice cost the salmon industry several billion dollars annually, according to Norway Royal Salmon.

A new remote-controlled fish pen—the first of its kind designed for the tempestuous waters of the open ocean—could help Norway meet the growing demand for salmon and at the same time reduce the cost of feed and mortalities that result from sea lice.

Instrumented with wireless gauges, sensors and cameras, the sea pen will give workers onboard a nearby barge the ability to monitor the fish, automatic feeders, and a remotely operated net cleaner as well as environmental and meteorological conditions, such as water depth, turbidity, salinity, oxygen, temperature, echo locators, and pH levels. The underwater feeding system reduces the energy cost of feeding by 50 percent. And because these open ocean pens will keep salmon 10-40 meters beneath the surface, below the sunlit zone where sea lice and algae thrive, they could reduce or eliminate the need for delousing operations, significantly lowering mortality rates.

Initial testing of the first pen will happen in 2020 off the coast of Troms, near a small island that will help dampen the rough waves. After seeing positive results from field trials, the pens could be moved further out to sea.

The system, developed by Arctic Offshore Farming (owned by Norway Royal Salmon), is a cylindrical fish pen with an outside diameter of 79 meters. Resembling a giant fish basket, the structure has a top and a bottom section, 10 meters apart. Each has a buoyant pontoon ring, supported by 16 columns. When submerged, only the upper pontoon is visible on the ocean surface. The salmon live in the bottom section, in a large net that drapes to a depth of 40 meters from the lower pontoon. A roof net prevents the fish from swimming into the top section and can be removed to either add fish or harvest them.

Stability is important, not only for maintaining structural integrity of the pen, but also for the health of the salmon. Fish need access to air to fill their swim bladders in order to maintain and control their buoyancy. To accommodate them, the pen has four decompressors, each in one of the support columns, that create air pockets beneath the water. A camera and oxygen sensor at each column will monitor the air pockets and automatically engage decompressors to keep them full at all times. A less stable pen would not be able to maintain such reliable air pockets, says Klaus Hatlebrekke, Chief Operating Officer of Markets and Business Norway Royal Salmon. “Even in a model test of a 50-year storm, we were not able to disrupt the air pockets,” he says.

The cameras are also used to monitor the net for wear so that repairs can be made before salmon escape. 

As with traditional salmon farming, the salmon will be raised from egg to juveniles, called smolts, onshore in freshwater hatcheries. After about a year, the smolt, weighing about 100 grams, will be transferred to a saltwater sea farm in a fjord. Under conventional methods, they would stay in the fjord and be raised until they weighed 5 kilos, says Hatlebrekke. But with the new system, fish weighing 1.5 kilos will be moved to the open ocean pens, where they’ll remain for another 10 to 11 months before they’ll be harvested. With a volume of 120 cubic meters, the pen can hold up to 600,000 full grown salmon at a time.

Using a local area network, the sensors will transmit their data to an onboard server that’s connected via a fiber optic cable to a crewed feed barge stationed about 400 meters from the farm. One barge is capable of monitoring a cluster of fish farms and restocking them with feed pellets about every seven to 14 days. 

The automatic feeders on the pens use 50 percent less energy than the system employed by traditional fish farms. Current systems blow feed pellets through air hoses floating on the water’s surfaces. But a similar approach cannot be used in the open ocean where tall waves and winds would scatter the feed out to sea. Instead, the new system automatically releases the feed underwater one to three times per day, allowing the currents to distribute the pellets. Four additional cameras allow crew members on the barge to see where the fish are located and release feed in their area, reducing waste. 

Although jobs in salmon fishing are about to get more technical, they don’t have to be complicated, says Lars Andersen, a sales specialist in Aquaculture at ABB. The company built a user-friendly interface that displays the controls and safety systems in a simple dashboard. A telecommunication link to a control base onshore offers land-based operators access to the pens, as well.

For the fish, their experience will more closely represent a life lived in the wild, says Hatlebrekke. Wild salmon that begin their journey in freshwater rivers spend only a few weeks in the sheltered fjord waters before they swim out to the open ocean. As farmed salmon operations incorporate more technology, the lives of farmed fish could mimic the path from freshwater to open sea, giving them a more natural existence.

One Driver Steers Two Trucks With Peloton’s Autonomous Follow System

Post Syndicated from Tekla S. Perry original https://spectrum.ieee.org/view-from-the-valley/transportation/self-driving/will-autonomous-following-be-a-game-changer-for-trucking

The technology is currently being tested on closed tracks, the company says

A host of companies are working to develop autonomous driving technology, but Silicon Valley startup Peloton has put its focus on autonomous following. The company today announced technology that uses computers, sensors, and vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications to allow one driver to drive two separate trucks. 

Last year, Peloton began selling technology that enabled closer and safer truck platooning, using sensors, V2V communications, and automatic powertrain control and braking. That version of its product, Platoon Pro, requires a driver in the second truck to steer. The new version will take the second driver out of the equation.

Here’s how it works: In the front truck, the driver drives normally. Whenever he adjusts his foot on the throttle, touches the brakes, or maneuvers the steering wheel, digital details describing that action are wirelessly transmitted to the computer in the following truck. Using that information, along with data gathered from its own collection of radars, cameras, and other sensors, the second truck can safely trail close behind the first, forming a single-driver platoon.

The Self-Driving Car Is a Surveillance Tool

Post Syndicated from Mark Anderson original https://spectrum.ieee.org/cars-that-think/transportation/self-driving/surveillance-and-the-selfdriving-car

In the coming age of autonomous vehicles, users may have to pay extra to keep their whereabouts private

Most drivers today can still remember when GPS was provided by a portable device plugged into the car’s cigarette lighter and mounted on the windshield with a suction cup. But soon after the iPhone arrived, GPS (or Sat Nav for U.K. readers) became just another app.

Now, an American geography researcher is arguing that GPS’s transition from dedicated hardware to smartphone software was even more significant than we realize. He says mobile mapping apps also foreshadow the ultimate transformation of car companies from purely “hardware” manufacturers to hybrid hardware, software, and service providers.

With that tectonic shift, he says, will come another shift toward a transportation economy in which the prime commodity is not just the car, but also the driver (his example echoes a larger trend which the sociologist Shoshana Zuboff calls “Surveillance Capitalism”).

“What we have with smartphones is, now [GPS] data can be monetized in other ways,” says Luis Alvarez León, assistant professor of geography at Dartmouth College. “Information companies are providing the mapping service as an ancillary way of refining their search algorithms, of collecting more data about the consumers… [and] of repackaging it for other third parties.”

All Aboard the U.K.’s First Hydrogen Train

Post Syndicated from Maria Gallucci original https://spectrum.ieee.org/energywise/transportation/alternative-transportation/all-aboard-uk-first-hydrogen-train

HydroFlex signals a growing push for zero-emission rail technologies

The United Kingdom’s first hydrogen fuel cell train rolled down the tracks this week, marking a milestone in the global push for greener transportation. Passengers climbed aboard the HydroFlex prototype as it ambled through the English countryside—without emitting any of the pollution that follows diesel locomotives.

HydroFlex is a joint initiative of the University of Birmingham’s Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE) and Porterbrook, the British railway company. The team demonstrated the four-car train at a rail testing center in Warwickshire, where rail aficionados gathered for an industry event. Researchers say they plan to test HydroFlex on the main U.K. railway network later this year, with funding from the Department of Transport.

“In the next few years, we could certainly see a fleet of these operational in the U.K.,” Stuart Hillmansen, a senior lecturer in electrical energy systems with BCRRE, said in a video at the rail conference.

New Lamborghini’s Digital Brain Helps Manage Its Supercar Brawn

Post Syndicated from Lawrence Ulrich original https://spectrum.ieee.org/cars-that-think/transportation/advanced-cars/new-lamborghinis-digital-brain-helps-manage-its-supercar-brawn

Powerful central processor predicts the car’s ideal path and helps the driver achieve it

Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (or “ADAS”) tend to be about slowing drivers down: braking cars automatically, or preventing errant maneuvers into looming obstacles. But Lamborghini is helping drivers go faster, via the new digital wingman in its latest supercar, the Huracan Evo.

With a 5.2-liter, naturally aspirated V-10 engine at the center of its alluring body, the Huracan produces a bellowing 640 horsepower. That power plant, and a light-but-strong chassis formed from aluminum and carbon fiber, let the supercar go from zero to about 100 kilometers per hour (60 mph) in 2.9 seconds; its top speed is a heady 325 km/h (202 mph). Strapped aboard this $265,000 Italian bull, some drivers will want all the help they can get.

I first tested the Huracan at Willow Springs International Raceway in California. The track’s historic “Big Willow” circuit—with just nine turns over 2.5 miles, roller-coaster elevation changes, and infamously high speeds—was a fine proving ground for the Lambo’s newly integrated systems.

Like many modern supercars, the Huracan is obsessed with getting all that engine power to the pavement as safely and efficiently as possible: The Huracan features a slick “torque vectoring” all-wheel-drive unit that can instantly apportion power to any of its wheels. All-wheel-steering can automatically turn the rear wheels either in opposition to the fronts, to boost agility at lower speeds, or in tandem with front wheels to aid high-speed stability. 

But the Huracan’s big new brain is the real advance. The company calls it LDVI, for Lamborghini Dinamica Veicolo Integrata. That’s a mouthful, but LDVI is actually a powerful central processor that analyzes a driver’s behavior, compares it against feedback from onboard sensors and systems, and combines it all to keep the car on the pilot’s intended path. This happens even at the extremes of speed, when one wrong move might otherwise send the car spinning into a ditch.

That onboard tech includes a comprehensive set of gyroscopes and accelerometers, located at the car’s center of gravity. They measure the car’s acceleration along lateral, longitudinal and vertical axes, as well as the body’s roll, pitch, and yaw rates. The latest version of Lamborghini’s magnetic suspension continuously adjusts the dampers at all four corners in response to data from those dynamic sensors. And the brand’s familiar “ANIMA” controller lets drivers select Strada (street), Sport, or Corsa (track) modes that change the car’s driving personality.

Previously, Lamborghinis could only react passively to the driver’s inputs to the steering wheel, throttle and brakes, and make adjustments in a familiar feedback loop. But the new LDVI applies “feed forward” logic so that it’s no longer simply reacting, but actually predicting the ideal set-up for the moment to come. Driver inputs are processed in real-time, and systems are adjusted in lightning-quick, 20-millisecond increments. External conditions are monitored via the aforementioned sensors that measure tire grip and cornering forces at all four wheels, and feedback from the active suspension.

The result is a supercar with a sixth sense for the person behind its wheel and for the situations it’s encountering. The basic Strada set-up is ideal for newbies or a chill commute. Here, the digital nannies won’t allow injudicious lead-footing: A clumsy pilot’s demand for, say, more acceleration when he’s already dialed in too much steering on a corner will be met with countervailing forces to quickly right the ship. But dial the Huracan to Sport mode, and the Lamborghini is primed for Fast and Furious hijinks, allowing a skilled driver freedom to slide sideways and otherwise push the handling envelope. In Corsa mode, everything is buttoned down for the track with the aim of achieving the fastest possible lap times. Among the adjustments is diverting more power to front wheels to maximize traction and balance. Lamborghini data shows that LDVI allows drivers to carve a faster, more-efficient path through curves, with fewer human steering corrections.

Of course, some drivers—count me among them—enjoy being in full control and having to correct their own mistakes. For the most part, LDVI does work transparently and behind the scenes: Unlike primitive stability and traction systems of 20 years ago, you never get the sense that the car is withholding full power or dumbing down the experience. My one quibble was with the operation of the active rear steering, which sometimes seemed to tweak the car’s cornering attitude when I wasn’t looking for help, thank you very much. But moments of obtrusiveness aside, LDVI advances the modern supercar, and that’s a great thing. Its smarts make high performance fun, safe, and accessible—including for image-conscious buyers who have more money than driving talent.

A Radar to Watch You in Your Car

Post Syndicated from Philip E. Ross original https://spectrum.ieee.org/cars-that-think/transportation/sensors/vayyar-promises-a-radar-for-inside-the-car-as-well-as-outside-it

Vayyar says there are at least four good reasons to monitor passengers with radar instead of cameras

Used to be, when we said the walls had ears, it meant there were microphones hidden in them. Now, when we say the walls have eyes, will it mean they have radar?

Maybe so, at least in your car. Vayyar Imaging, a firm based in Tel Aviv, says it has a radar chip that can form a three-dimensional view of what’s going on inside a car as well as outside of it. Right now, though, it’s concentrating on the inside, because there’s a regulatory push to having in-cabin observation in place in the early 2020s, and Vayyar thinks it has a head start.

Everyone else seems to be banking on cameras, including infrared cameras, to do this job. You can buy such a system right now: the Cadillac CT6 Super Cruise. That car can drive itself for extended periods, but it uses a camera to scrutinize the driver for signs of distraction or fatigue to make sure that, if a problem comes up that the system can’t solve, it can safely hand control back to the human.

3 Types of 3D Sensing for Smartphones and Self-Driving Cars

Post Syndicated from IEEE Spectrum Staff original https://spectrum.ieee.org/transportation/sensors/3-types-of-3d-sensing-for-smartphones-and-selfdriving-cars

3D cameras already help us make 3D emoji/animoji. Now, ams wants to use 3D sensing to help smartphones capture more accurate colors

MWC report logo, link to report landing page

Cameras that scan and render objects in 3D are now a standard feature in many smartphones, drones, robots, and automobiles. Paired with the right software, these cameras are making it possible to sense light levels, movements, and textures in more places, and at a lower cost, than was previously possible.

ams (located on the former grounds of an Austrian castle) produces the tiny lasers and low-power light sensors that many of these camera systems rely on to identify hand gestures or track eye movements in an instant. The company’s technology must produce accurate results for a wide variety of consumer and industrial devices that operate in very different environments.

ams has a team of 1,200 engineers, and as demand has grown, ams has focused its R&D resources and budget on designing components for three types of 3D sensing: structured light, time-of-flight, and active stereo vision.

Bosch to Sell Low-Cost Sensors for Flying Cars

Post Syndicated from Philip E. Ross original https://spectrum.ieee.org/cars-that-think/transportation/sensors/bosch-adapts-automotive-sensors-for-use-air-taxis

Bosch expects the first flying taxi service to take off in a major city by 2023

Bosch today said it plans to sell a universal control unit for flying cars that combines dozens of sensors that have been proven in cars on the ground. 

“The first flying taxis are set to take off in major cities starting in 2023, at the latest,” Harald Kröger, president of the Bosch Automotive Electronics division, said in a statement. “Bosch plans to play a leading role in shaping this future market.” 

Among the many sensors in the universal, plug-and-play unit are MEMS-based acceleration sensors. These include yaw-rate sensors to measure the angle of attack—that is, the plane’s angle with respect to the oncoming air. This was the quality that was mismeasured by the sensors and misinterpreted by the control unit of the Boeing 737 Max, contributing to the two crashes of that airliner.

Ultrafast Motion-Planning Chip Could Make Autonomous Cars Safer

Post Syndicated from Evan Ackerman original https://spectrum.ieee.org/cars-that-think/transportation/self-driving/realtime-robotics-motion-planning-chip-autonomous-cars

Realtime Robotics’ motion-planning processor helps autonomous cars make better decisions

About two years ago, we covered a research project from Duke University that sped up motion planning for a tabletop robot arm by several orders of magnitude. The robot relied on a custom processor to do in milliseconds what normally takes seconds. The Duke researchers formed a company based on this tech called Realtime Robotics, and recently they’ve been focused on applying it to autonomous vehicles.

The reason that you should care about fast motion planning for autonomous vehicles is because motion planning encompasses the process by which the vehicle decides what it’s going to do next. Making this process faster doesn’t just mean that the vehicle can make decisions more quickly, but that it can make much better decisions as well—keeping you, and everyone around you, as safe as possible.

Smartphones Replace Fobs for Keyless Vehicle Entry

Post Syndicated from Lawrence Ulrich original https://spectrum.ieee.org/cars-that-think/transportation/advanced-cars/smartphones-replace-fobs-for-keyless-vehicle-entry

Lincoln and Amazon are the latest companies to harness smartphone apps for easy vehicle entry

Roll-up windows. Cigarette lighters. Physical ignition keys. All of these features have gone virtually extinct in modern automobiles. The quaint metal key gave way to transponder fobs, which led to “proximity keys” that don’t leave your pocket at all. Now, smartphones are becoming the new gatekeepers, as car companies roll out features that let drivers unlock and start their cars through an app.

Volvo began offering its subscription-based On Call service in 2016; it allows owners to use the company’s smartphone app to lock, unlock, and start their cars. With it, users can also remotely check vehicle fuel levels, receive service alerts, or send destinations to the onboard navigation system.

Tesla, which has never been shy about beta testing on its customers, then attempted to sell a car with no fob at all: The Model 3 sedan was initially available with only smartphone-based entry and ignition, and a backup RFID card. Beset by customer complaints of spotty operation, Tesla began offering a familiar fob last fall for an extra US $150. Yet that fob didn’t allow the “passive entry” of the smartphone system, requiring owners to push a button to enter or lock the car. 

Now it’s Lincoln’s turn. Ford’s luxury division will bring two SUVs to market this year, the midsize 2020 Aviator and compact 2020 Corsair. Traditionalists will still receive a standard fob, but adventurous types can pay extra for the Lincoln’s app-based, optional “Phone as a Key” system. 

The Ram 1500 Hybrid Merges Pickup Power With Sedan Fuel Efficiency

Post Syndicated from Lawrence Ulrich original https://spectrum.ieee.org/transportation/advanced-cars/2019s-top-10-tech-cars-ram-1500

Frugal with fuel in stop-and-go traffic

The 2019 Ram has been garnering early praise for several technologies unheard of in full-size pickup trucks: a Tesla-like touch screen, a coil-spring rear suspension and self-leveling air suspension. But its best tech trick is under the hood: mild hybrid power. It’s called eTorque, and it’s standard on every V-6 Ram and an option on Hemi V-8 models.

Mild hybrids can’t propel themselves on electricity alone, but they can supplement gasoline power and trim fuel consumption. On the Ram, a liquid-cooled motor/generator connects to the Pentastar V-6’s crankshaft to deliver an electric boost of 8.9 kilowatts (12 horsepower) and as many as 122 newton meters (90 pound-feet) of torque. It’s powered by a 48-volt electrical system, the new wave in automotive electricals, with a DC/DC converter and a compact, 0.4-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery.

That 48-V system permits the use of engine stop/start tech that cycles so seamlessly that it’s nearly undetectable: The Ram rolls from stoplights under electric power before it cranks the gasoline engine to whispery life, without the shuddering or noise that make typical stop/start systems so annoying.

Throw in an incredibly creamy ride, and a back seat (in Crew Cab models) with more legroom than any full-size luxury sedan, and you realize how far we’ve come from the days when the General Motors GMT 400 was hailed for having independent front suspension with torsion bars.

Ram says the eTorque system saves 5 centiliters (1.7 ounces) of fuel for every 90-second stop. Do that just 10 times a day and you’re conserving 190 liters (50 gallons) of fuel a year. It also saves energy through regenerative hybrid brakes. The latest, 227-kW (305-hp) Pentastar V-6 adds variable intake-valve lift and cam phasing that can run the efficient Atkinson combustion cycle, familiar from hybrids like the Toyota Prius. The 295-kW (395-hp) Hemi V-8 adds its own goodies, including fuel-saving cylinder deactivation, electronic mass dampers on frame rails and active cabin-noise cancellation, the latter two techs designed to erase telltale vibrations when the Ram runs on just four cylinders.

The upshot is the kind of fuel economy once associated with family cars. The V-6 Ram has an EPA fuel economy of 12.4 liters/100 kilometers (19 miles per gallon) on local roads and 9.8 L/100 km (24 mpg) on the highway, and an unmatched driving range of 1,000 km (624 miles) on a tank of gasoline. Even the burly V-8 eTorque model manages up to 17/23 mpg, in a truck that can tow a whopping 5,783 kilograms, or approximately one African bull elephant.

Ferrari’s Fastest-Ever Street-Legal V8 Takes Design and Tech Cues from Its F1 racers

Post Syndicated from Lawrence Ulrich original https://spectrum.ieee.org/transportation/advanced-cars/2019s-top-10-tech-cars-ferrari-488-pista

It’s a turbo with the satisfying sound of an air-breathing monster

When I get my first knee-wobbling glimpse of the 488 Pista and its zesty racing stripes, I’m not thinking about technology, I have to confess. But when I strap aboard the Pista at Ferrari’s fabled Fiorano test circuit in Maranello, Italy, I’m soon saying grazie for the sheer technical prowess of the fastest V-8 Ferrari ever produced.

A midmounted, dry-sump, twin-turbo V-8 spools up 529 kilowatts (710 horsepower) from just 3.9 liters of displacement, in a Ferrari that weighs just 1,382 kilograms (3,047 pounds). That’s 6 percent lighter than a 488 GTB, the standard version of Ferrari’s midengine marvel. The diet that slimmed down the Pista included carbon-fiber wheels that weigh 40 percent less than standard rims.

The result is a new idea of insanity in a street-legal Ferrari: The 0-to-100-kilometer-per-hour run (62 miles per hour) takes 2.85 seconds. You get to 200 km/h (124 mph) in 7.6 seconds, which is faster than many cars take to reach 100 km/h.

Engineers trimmed 23 kg (50 lbs) from the engine alone, using carbon-fiber intake plenums and titanium connecting rods, just like in Ferrari’s F1 racers. The engine’s total rotational inertia—created by its moving parts and by friction—is reduced by 17 percent for faster, more-joyous revving. The Inconel-alloy exhaust manifold is just 1 millimeter wide at its thinnest sections, and it saves nearly 9 kg (20 lbs). The design minimizes energy losses incurred when the engine pumps out exhaust. It also helps deliver the fortissimo sound that went missing in the GTB, a major challenge as supercars switch en masse to more-efficient turbocharged power plants.

Engineers also added more “color” to the sound of the engine by augmenting the richer, more-pleasing frequencies. Turbocharger speed sensors on each cylinder bank measure how well it’s working in real time to enable engine controllers to maximize power, regardless of altitude or ambient temperature.

The Ferrari takes aerodynamic and handling cues from Ferrari Challenge racers, along with the 488 GTBs that have dominated FIA Endurance Racing. Compared with a standard GTB, the Pista enjoys a huge 20 percent gain in aero efficiency, including up to 240 kg (529 lbs) of downforce at 200 km/h (124 mph). Giant carbon-ceramic brakes feel strong enough to halt Earth’s rotation. The S-Duct, a Ferrari showroom first, channels air through the front fascia and over the hood to clamp front tires to the road surface. Front radiators are inverted and canted rearward to direct hot air along the underbody but well away from side intercooler intakes.

As in Challenge cars, the engine is actually fed from the rear, where air intakes mounted just below the rear spoiler take advantage of the high-pressure atmosphere there; the 488’s signature cleavages in rear fenders are now put to use feeding air into turbo intercoolers and cooling the engine bay. The rear diffuser incorporates three active flaps that can rotate up to 14 degrees to minimize drag, hastening runs to the car’s top speed of 340 km/h (211 mph). The result is a track-day carnival.

The car’s coolest hand-me-down from racing tech may be the new “wall effect” rev limiter. Traditional engine-speed limiters, Ferrari says, cut off the fuel well before the engine gets to its redline. In the Pista, there’s no sudden slump in power, the dispiriting thrustus interruptus that you feel when a car’s engine bangs off the rev limiter. Instead, the Ferrari continues to accelerate right up to the engine’s peak, and holds it there. All 710 of these prancing ponies are on tap, anywhere from 6,750 rpm to the 8,000-rpm redline.

Ferrari will build just 500 Pistas for the world’s consumption. If only technology could make the Pista multiply while sharply reducing the price.

All-Electric Jaguar Earns its Racing Stripes

Post Syndicated from Lawrence Ulrich original https://spectrum.ieee.org/transportation/advanced-cars/2019s-top-10-tech-cars-jaguar-ipace-etrophy

A production EV, refitted for the racetrack

Making an electric car go fast in a straight line on the street is one thing; making one that can withstand the rigors of racing is another. Jaguar’s I-Pace eTrophy showed the difference in December by kicking off the world’s first all-electric, production-based championship with a historic run in Saudi Arabia. That eTrophy series, a global undercard for the FIA’s Formula E, included pro women—such as Katherine Legge with the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team—competing against men in the kingdom for the first time.

I did my laps in that same car at the Silverstone circuit in the United Kingdom. And if the I-Pace isn’t the fastest race car I’ve tested—give this technology time, please—it was definitely the quietest. As I shot around Silverstone’s Stowe Circuit, I could barely hear the motor’s gentle whir above the groans of the suspension and the rumbling of the 56-centimeter (22-inch) Michelin Pilot Sport tires.

Jaguar’s Special Vehicle Operations has built 20 of these groundbreaking racers, which use as a starting point the same electric I-Pace you see in showrooms. The racers have the same 90-kilowatt-hour battery, for example, and also the same dual synchronous motors with 294 kilowatts (394 horsepower) and 700 newton meters of torque. Despite a 610-kilogram battery, the racers trim 225 kilos from the road-going version’s hefty 1,965 kg.

In this newfangled series, durability and safety matter as much as performance: Motors are designed to last for the series’ entire three years, or 30 races, with only the battery getting replaced after each season. The Terra 51 Charge Station, a DC fast charger with roughly 50 kW of power, is custom-designed to be compact and easily portable, for transport and racing. Those races last for 25 minutes plus one lap, or roughly 100 kilometers (62 miles), depending on the course.

I’m strapped into the car, sharing its safety cage with the battery, which is cradled inboard for safety. Gasoline fire has always been a prime danger in racing, but the Jaguar’s electrical system, with 389 volts and up to 550 amperes, brings its own challenges: If I crash, I’ll need to toggle separate switches that trigger two levels of electrical isolation and minimize the chance I’ll be electrocuted. Lights on the Jag’s exterior and dash glow green when there’s no live electricity but glow blue or red for potential threats. In that case, emergency workers are equipped with rubber gloves, mats, and specialized gear to aid the driver and car.

To maximize cooling, the race version has hood and fascia openings larger than those in the showroom car, as well as double the A/C system capacity, the better to cool the battery pack. Regenerative brakes create up to 0.4 g’s of deceleration. When the battery is fully charged, no energy recovery is possible, but as the race proceeds, drivers can adjust the regenerative brake over 11 settings. The results are pretty impressive for a two-metric-ton crossover: The racing I-Pace scoots to 97 km/h (60 mph) in 4.5 seconds, with a top speed twice as high, at 121 mph.

But this competition is also about putting Jaguar on the EV map, according to James Barclay, director for the Panasonic Jaguar Racing Team. “We have 9,500 engineers in [England] developing this technology,” Barclay says. “As a British company, we’re the first to have gone racing with our electric car, and we’re very proud of that.”

The New Lexus ES 350 Ditches Side View Mirrors for Digital Cameras

Post Syndicated from Lawrence Ulrich original https://spectrum.ieee.org/transportation/advanced-cars/2019s-top-10-tech-cars-lexus-es-350

Who needs mirrors when you’ve got cameras?

For years, automakers have teased us with sleek concept cars that ditch conventional side mirrors in favor of digital cameras. Now, Lexus becomes the first automaker to bring the technology to showrooms, albeit only in Japan for now: The all-new ES 350 sedan will beat the Audi E-tron’s “virtual mirrors” to market by mere months.

Lexus calls theirs the Digital Side-View Monitor: a pair of slender exterior stalks housing digital cameras that beam a high-definition view to 5.0-inch LCD screens mounted on either side of the cabin. The main benefit is to save fuel by reducing the aerodynamic drag of chunky conventional mirrors and damping the wind noise that’s been a longtime challenge for car designers. Lexus says the cameras and interior monitors deliver better visibility in foul weather, with the lenses heated and tucked into housings to ward off raindrops, ice, or snow. Drivers can adjust screen perspectives, or the camera can automatically adjust— zooming in when drivers hit their turn signals, or highlighting and alerting to cars that loom in blind spots.

Now, if only American motorists could get a peek. Though regulators in Japan and Europe have already approved the digital cameras, U.S. regulations prohibit them.

The Newest BMW 3 Takes the Worry Out of What’s in Your Rear View

Post Syndicated from Lawrence Ulrich original https://spectrum.ieee.org/transportation/advanced-cars/2019s-top-10-tech-cars-bmw-3series

Reverse assistant gets you right back where you started from

BMW’s franchise model, its 3-Series sport sedan, has been slipping in sales and reputation. It’s been hammered lately by the Alfa Romeo Giulia, among other sporty chariots. But an all-new 3-Series has armored itself for the battle with loads of new tech. First things first: The new 3-Series is fun to drive, in the way BMW fans demand. I learn this firsthand in Portugal while romping an M340i on the devilish Portimao circuit.

The car’s 285 kilowatts (382 horsepower) are a nearly 20 percent jump from last year, even though the car has a similar 3.0-liter in-line 6 at its core. The upgrades focus on the turbocharger: Fuel-injection pressure is nearly doubled, and the twin-scroll unit is lighter and more efficient, inhaling exhaust gas at a toasty 1,000 °C.

When drivers aren’t pushing the BMW’s limits, they can relax and enjoy the tech treats. Semiautonomous functions, including hands-off driving on highways, are managed through radar and three bundled cameras from MobilEye, an Israel-based Intel subsidiary that produces imagers and software for driver-assistance systems. Another feature, called Narrow Passage Support, keeps the BMW centered in white-knuckle maneuvers, such as driving between giant trucks. The built-in Intelligent Personal Assistant follows orders like an onboard Siri. Blue-laser-powered high beams can illuminate the road ahead for a remarkable 600 meters. And a plug-in hybrid version, designated 330e, heads to showrooms in 2020.

Now, let’s back up and talk about Reversing Assistant: At speeds below 35 kilometers per hour (22 miles per hour), the BMW records the car’s path in continuous 50-meter increments. Go ahead, drive along that dead-end forest path, a steep uphill driveway, the trickiest courtyard or parking garage. You can even park the BMW and get a good night’s sleep. When you return, the BMW will automatically steer itself to mirror the inbound path at up to 5.5 km/h, with the driver touching only the brake and throttle. The system worked like a charm, precisely reversing and scanning for pedestrians, cars, or obstacles, while I monitored its progress on a display screen; all without me having to crane my neck and worry about crunching into something. If every car had the BMW’s system, insurance claims due to reverse maneuvers gone wrong would drop faster than a shorn-off side mirror.

Like Magic, Land Rover Makes Its SUV’s Hood Disappear

Post Syndicated from Lawrence Ulrich original https://spectrum.ieee.org/cars-that-think/transportation/advanced-cars/like-magic-land-rover-makes-its-suvs-hood-disappear

The automaker’s new wheels-eye-view feature gets rid of the ultimate blind spot: the point where the rubber meets the road

Venturing off-road in a four-wheel-drive SUV can whiten the knuckles of even experienced drivers. So, even as engineers race to bring self-driving cars to paved roads, Land Rover is harnessing similar technology to help vehicles navigate the roughest terrain. The British automaker’s latest advance, which it calls Clear Sight Ground View, provided a literal eye-opener in Greece during my test of the sumptuous new Range Rover Evoque.

Like every new bit of semiautonomous tech, the groundbreaking system expands on an existing suite of hardware, sensors, and software. The latest Rovers could already robotically manage their acceleration, braking, suspensions, and four-wheel-drive traction well enough to tackle daunting climbs and descents and traverse terrain that would rattle the nerves of off-road novices. All that was left for the human driver was to steer, which reduced the mental and physical workload. Now, Clear Sight Ground View removes even more stress and uncertainty from the equation. At speeds up to 30 kilometers per hour (18 miles per hour), forward-facing cameras mounted on the side mirrors and front grille deliver a 180-degree view of the front wheels and the ground beneath and ahead of the vehicle—a perspective that’s typically obscured by the hood of a high-riding SUV.

This real-time view is fed to the Evoque’s center touch screen, along with a graphical, transparent overlay of the vehicle’s sides and corners. Computer controls slightly delay the images from the front camera and stitch them together with side-mirror views to create a seamless real-time feed. Rover engineers say the system makes the Evoque’s hood—or, these being Brits, its “bonnet”—virtually see-through. It’s definitely like having another set of eyes outside the vehicle. And that’s precisely the point.

Proponents of autonomous cars talk about replacing fallible drivers, but the Rover system could help replace another occupation: the spotter that traditionally guides an off-road adventurer through particularly tricky off-road obstacles. When I aimed the Evoque up a steep, narrow goat trail overlooking the Aegean Sea, the virtual view showed precisely where my front wheels were pointed, as well as the rocks and ruts I needed to clamber over or steer around. This eliminated any need to have a passenger climb out and hand-signal me as I picked my way up the slope. The system again came in handy on a vertigo-inducing crossing of a rusting, out-of-service railway bridge that spans the Corinth Canal, the spectacular shipping channel that separates the Greek mainland from the Peloponnese peninsula. The screen view offered precise, reassuring confirmation that my wheels were straddling the railroad tracks, and that I wasn’t at risk of making a roughly 90-meter plunge to the azure waters below.

Speaking of water, the all-new Evoque can ford bodies of water up to 60 centimeters (23.6 inches) deep—or 9.9 cm deeper than earlier models could withstand. To be on the safe side, a new ultrasonic sensor measures and displays the water’s depth as you proceed, again bypassing the need for guesswork, a pair of waders, or a sharp stick to poke into a rushing stream.

It’s all very clever. But for this off-roading fan, foolproofing the experience with electronic guardian angels raises some important questions: Isn’t doing it yourself half (or even more than half) the fun of trekking an SUV through challenging terrain? Isn’t experiencing the attendant sense of adventure and overcoming obstacles skillfully the point of the exercise? Would Lewis and Clark have preferred a mountain-lion sensor and a set of Google Maps? (OK, it’s a definite “yes” to the third question.)

Nathan Hoyt, U.S. communications chief at Jaguar Land Rover, the marque’s parent company, notes that engaging the various helpers is optional. Owners are welcome to do it the old-fashioned way, relying on their own skills and senses when traveling off-road. But expensive as Range Rovers are, Clear Sight Ground View will likely find its primary use in keeping them pristine when negotiating urban and suburban obstacles such as narrow passages or tall curbs. The viewpoint it provides lowers the odds of scraping a pricey alloy wheel on a curb or dinging a body panel on the base of a light post in a shopping mall parking lot.

Furthermore, says Hoyt, “the [new suite of driver assistance] systems will help you get up a steep driveway in winter, or across a muddy soccer pitch without getting stuck.” In other words, even if your posh Rover spends more time in valet lines than the rugged wilderness, these technologies may still come to the rescue.

10 visualizations to try in Amazon QuickSight with sample data

Post Syndicated from Karthik Kumar Odapally original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/big-data/10-visualizations-to-try-in-amazon-quicksight-with-sample-data/

If you’re not already familiar with building visualizations for quick access to business insights using Amazon QuickSight, consider this your introduction. In this post, we’ll walk through some common scenarios with sample datasets to provide an overview of how you can connect yuor data, perform advanced analysis and access the results from any web browser or mobile device.

The following visualizations are built from the public datasets available in the links below. Before we jump into that, let’s take a look at the supported data sources, file formats and a typical QuickSight workflow to build any visualization.

Which data sources does Amazon QuickSight support?

At the time of publication, you can use the following data methods:

  • Connect to AWS data sources, including:
    • Amazon RDS
    • Amazon Aurora
    • Amazon Redshift
    • Amazon Athena
    • Amazon S3
  • Upload Excel spreadsheets or flat files (CSV, TSV, CLF, and ELF)
  • Connect to on-premises databases like Teradata, SQL Server, MySQL, and PostgreSQL
  • Import data from SaaS applications like Salesforce and Snowflake
  • Use big data processing engines like Spark and Presto

This list is constantly growing. For more information, see Supported Data Sources.

Answers in instants

SPICE is the Amazon QuickSight super-fast, parallel, in-memory calculation engine, designed specifically for ad hoc data visualization. SPICE stores your data in a system architected for high availability, where it is saved until you choose to delete it. Improve the performance of database datasets by importing the data into SPICE instead of using a direct database query. To calculate how much SPICE capacity your dataset needs, see Managing SPICE Capacity.

Typical Amazon QuickSight workflow

When you create an analysis, the typical workflow is as follows:

  1. Connect to a data source, and then create a new dataset or choose an existing dataset.
  2. (Optional) If you created a new dataset, prepare the data (for example, by changing field names or data types).
  3. Create a new analysis.
  4. Add a visual to the analysis by choosing the fields to visualize. Choose a specific visual type, or use AutoGraph and let Amazon QuickSight choose the most appropriate visual type, based on the number and data types of the fields that you select.
  5. (Optional) Modify the visual to meet your requirements (for example, by adding a filter or changing the visual type).
  6. (Optional) Add more visuals to the analysis.
  7. (Optional) Add scenes to the default story to provide a narrative about some aspect of the analysis data.
  8. (Optional) Publish the analysis as a dashboard to share insights with other users.

The following graphic illustrates a typical Amazon QuickSight workflow.

Visualizations created in Amazon QuickSight with sample datasets

Visualizations for a data analyst

Source:  https://data.worldbank.org/

Download and Resources:  https://datacatalog.worldbank.org/dataset/world-development-indicators

Data catalog:  The World Bank invests into multiple development projects at the national, regional, and global levels. It’s a great source of information for data analysts.

The following graph shows the percentage of the population that has access to electricity (rural and urban) during 2000 in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America.

The following graph shows the share of healthcare costs that are paid out-of-pocket (private vs. public). Also, you can maneuver over the graph to get detailed statistics at a glance.

Visualizations for a trading analyst

Source:  Deutsche Börse Public Dataset (DBG PDS)

Download and resources:  https://aws.amazon.com/public-datasets/deutsche-boerse-pds/

Data catalog:  The DBG PDS project makes real-time data derived from Deutsche Börse’s trading market systems available to the public for free. This is the first time that such detailed financial market data has been shared freely and continually from the source provider.

The following graph shows the market trend of max trade volume for different EU banks. It builds on the data available on XETRA engines, which is made up of a variety of equities, funds, and derivative securities. This graph can be scrolled to visualize trade for a period of an hour or more.

The following graph shows the common stock beating the rest of the maximum trade volume over a period of time, grouped by security type.

Visualizations for a data scientist

Source:  https://catalog.data.gov/

Download and resources:  https://catalog.data.gov/dataset/road-weather-information-stations-788f8

Data catalog:  Data derived from different sensor stations placed on the city bridges and surface streets are a core information source. The road weather information station has a temperature sensor that measures the temperature of the street surface. It also has a sensor that measures the ambient air temperature at the station each second.

The following graph shows the present max air temperature in Seattle from different RWI station sensors.

The following graph shows the minimum temperature of the road surface at different times, which helps predicts road conditions at a particular time of the year.

Visualizations for a data engineer

Source:  https://www.kaggle.com/

Download and resources:  https://www.kaggle.com/datasnaek/youtube-new/data

Data catalog:  Kaggle has come up with a platform where people can donate open datasets. Data engineers and other community members can have open access to these datasets and can contribute to the open data movement. They have more than 350 datasets in total, with more than 200 as featured datasets. It has a few interesting datasets on the platform that are not present at other places, and it’s a platform to connect with other data enthusiasts.

The following graph shows the trending YouTube videos and presents the max likes for the top 20 channels. This is one of the most popular datasets for data engineers.

The following graph shows the YouTube daily statistics for the max views of video titles published during a specific time period.

Visualizations for a business user

Source:  New York Taxi Data

Download and resources:  https://data.cityofnewyork.us/Transportation/2016-Green-Taxi-Trip-Data/hvrh-b6nb

Data catalog: NYC Open data hosts some very popular open data sets for all New Yorkers. This platform allows you to get involved in dive deep into the data set to pull some useful visualizations. 2016 Green taxi trip dataset includes trip records from all trips completed in green taxis in NYC in 2016. Records include fields capturing pick-up and drop-off dates/times, pick-up and drop-off locations, trip distances, itemized fares, rate types, payment types, and driver-reported passenger counts.

The following graph presents maximum fare amount grouped by the passenger count during a period of time during a day. This can be further expanded to follow through different day of the month based on the business need.

The following graph shows the NewYork taxi data from January 2016, showing the dip in the number of taxis ridden on January 23, 2016 across all types of taxis.

A quick search for that date and location shows you the following news report:


Using Amazon QuickSight, you can see patterns across a time-series data by building visualizations, performing ad hoc analysis, and quickly generating insights. We hope you’ll give it a try today!


Additional Reading

If you found this post useful, be sure to check out Amazon QuickSight Adds Support for Combo Charts and Row-Level Security and Visualize AWS Cloudtrail Logs Using AWS Glue and Amazon QuickSight.

Karthik Odapally is a Sr. Solutions Architect in AWS. His passion is to build cost effective and highly scalable solutions on the cloud. In his spare time, he bakes cookies and cupcakes for family and friends here in the PNW. He loves vintage racing cars.




Pranabesh Mandal is a Solutions Architect in AWS. He has over a decade of IT experience. He is passionate about cloud technology and focuses on Analytics. In his spare time, he likes to hike and explore the beautiful nature and wild life of most divine national parks around the United States alongside his wife.





Ransomware Update: Viruses Targeting Business IT Servers

Post Syndicated from Roderick Bauer original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/ransomware-update-viruses-targeting-business-it-servers/

Ransomware warning message on computer

As ransomware attacks have grown in number in recent months, the tactics and attack vectors also have evolved. While the primary method of attack used to be to target individual computer users within organizations with phishing emails and infected attachments, we’re increasingly seeing attacks that target weaknesses in businesses’ IT infrastructure.

How Ransomware Attacks Typically Work

In our previous posts on ransomware, we described the common vehicles used by hackers to infect organizations with ransomware viruses. Most often, downloaders distribute trojan horses through malicious downloads and spam emails. The emails contain a variety of file attachments, which if opened, will download and run one of the many ransomware variants. Once a user’s computer is infected with a malicious downloader, it will retrieve additional malware, which frequently includes crypto-ransomware. After the files have been encrypted, a ransom payment is demanded of the victim in order to decrypt the files.

What’s Changed With the Latest Ransomware Attacks?

In 2016, a customized ransomware strain called SamSam began attacking the servers in primarily health care institutions. SamSam, unlike more conventional ransomware, is not delivered through downloads or phishing emails. Instead, the attackers behind SamSam use tools to identify unpatched servers running Red Hat’s JBoss enterprise products. Once the attackers have successfully gained entry into one of these servers by exploiting vulnerabilities in JBoss, they use other freely available tools and scripts to collect credentials and gather information on networked computers. Then they deploy their ransomware to encrypt files on these systems before demanding a ransom. Gaining entry to an organization through its IT center rather than its endpoints makes this approach scalable and especially unsettling.

SamSam’s methodology is to scour the Internet searching for accessible and vulnerable JBoss application servers, especially ones used by hospitals. It’s not unlike a burglar rattling doorknobs in a neighborhood to find unlocked homes. When SamSam finds an unlocked home (unpatched server), the software infiltrates the system. It is then free to spread across the company’s network by stealing passwords. As it transverses the network and systems, it encrypts files, preventing access until the victims pay the hackers a ransom, typically between $10,000 and $15,000. The low ransom amount has encouraged some victimized organizations to pay the ransom rather than incur the downtime required to wipe and reinitialize their IT systems.

The success of SamSam is due to its effectiveness rather than its sophistication. SamSam can enter and transverse a network without human intervention. Some organizations are learning too late that securing internet-facing services in their data center from attack is just as important as securing endpoints.

The typical steps in a SamSam ransomware attack are:

Attackers gain access to vulnerable server
Attackers exploit vulnerable software or weak/stolen credentials.
Attack spreads via remote access tools
Attackers harvest credentials, create SOCKS proxies to tunnel traffic, and abuse RDP to install SamSam on more computers in the network.
Ransomware payload deployed
Attackers run batch scripts to execute ransomware on compromised machines.
Ransomware demand delivered requiring payment to decrypt files
Demand amounts vary from victim to victim. Relatively low ransom amounts appear to be designed to encourage quick payment decisions.

What all the organizations successfully exploited by SamSam have in common is that they were running unpatched servers that made them vulnerable to SamSam. Some organizations had their endpoints and servers backed up, while others did not. Some of those without backups they could use to recover their systems chose to pay the ransom money.

Timeline of SamSam History and Exploits

Since its appearance in 2016, SamSam has been in the news with many successful incursions into healthcare, business, and government institutions.

March 2016
SamSam appears

SamSam campaign targets vulnerable JBoss servers
Attackers hone in on healthcare organizations specifically, as they’re more likely to have unpatched JBoss machines.

April 2016
SamSam finds new targets

SamSam begins targeting schools and government.
After initial success targeting healthcare, attackers branch out to other sectors.

April 2017
New tactics include RDP

Attackers shift to targeting organizations with exposed RDP connections, and maintain focus on healthcare.
An attack on Erie County Medical Center costs the hospital $10 million over three months of recovery.
Erie County Medical Center attacked by SamSam ransomware virus

January 2018
Municipalities attacked

• Attack on Municipality of Farmington, NM.
• Attack on Hancock Health.
Hancock Regional Hospital notice following SamSam attack
• Attack on Adams Memorial Hospital
• Attack on Allscripts (Electronic Health Records), which includes 180,000 physicians, 2,500 hospitals, and 7.2 million patients’ health records.

February 2018
Attack volume increases

• Attack on Davidson County, NC.
• Attack on Colorado Department of Transportation.
SamSam virus notification

March 2018
SamSam shuts down Atlanta

• Second attack on Colorado Department of Transportation.
• City of Atlanta suffers a devastating attack by SamSam.
The attack has far-reaching impacts — crippling the court system, keeping residents from paying their water bills, limiting vital communications like sewer infrastructure requests, and pushing the Atlanta Police Department to file paper reports.
Atlanta Ransomware outage alert
• SamSam campaign nets $325,000 in 4 weeks.
Infections spike as attackers launch new campaigns. Healthcare and government organizations are once again the primary targets.

How to Defend Against SamSam and Other Ransomware Attacks

The best way to respond to a ransomware attack is to avoid having one in the first place. If you are attacked, making sure your valuable data is backed up and unreachable by ransomware infection will ensure that your downtime and data loss will be minimal or none if you ever suffer an attack.

In our previous post, How to Recover From Ransomware, we listed the ten ways to protect your organization from ransomware.

  1. Use anti-virus and anti-malware software or other security policies to block known payloads from launching.
  2. Make frequent, comprehensive backups of all important files and isolate them from local and open networks. Cybersecurity professionals view data backup and recovery (74% in a recent survey) by far as the most effective solution to respond to a successful ransomware attack.
  3. Keep offline backups of data stored in locations inaccessible from any potentially infected computer, such as disconnected external storage drives or the cloud, which prevents them from being accessed by the ransomware.
  4. Install the latest security updates issued by software vendors of your OS and applications. Remember to patch early and patch often to close known vulnerabilities in operating systems, server software, browsers, and web plugins.
  5. Consider deploying security software to protect endpoints, email servers, and network systems from infection.
  6. Exercise cyber hygiene, such as using caution when opening email attachments and links.
  7. Segment your networks to keep critical computers isolated and to prevent the spread of malware in case of attack. Turn off unneeded network shares.
  8. Turn off admin rights for users who don’t require them. Give users the lowest system permissions they need to do their work.
  9. Restrict write permissions on file servers as much as possible.
  10. Educate yourself, your employees, and your family in best practices to keep malware out of your systems. Update everyone on the latest email phishing scams and human engineering aimed at turning victims into abettors.

Please Tell Us About Your Experiences with Ransomware

Have you endured a ransomware attack or have a strategy to avoid becoming a victim? Please tell us of your experiences in the comments.

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