Category Archives: Transportation

Why Autonomous Vehicle Developers Are Embracing Open Source

By Chris Wiltz – GM Cruise is turning loose its tool for autonomous vehicle visualization to the open source community for a wider range of applications, including robotics and automation. But its only the latest in a series of similar developments to happen over the course of the year.

This time the General Motors-owned Cruise is open-sourcing Webviz – a web browser-based tool for data visualization in autonomous vehicles and robotics. Webviz is an application capable of managing the petabytes of data from various autonomous vehicle sensors (both in simulation and on the road) and creating 2D and 3D charts, logs, and more in a customizable user interface.

Cruise is making that tool available to engineers in the autonomous vehicle space and beyond. “Now, anyone can drag and drop any [Robot Operating System (ROS)] bag file into Webviz to get immediate visual insight into their robotics data,” Esther Weon, a software engineer at Cruise, wrote in a Medium post.

Difficulties in testing autonomous vehicles have played in a key factor in major automakers rethinking their timetables on the delivery of fully-autonomous vehicles. Simulation is becoming an increasingly common solution in the face of time-consuming real-world road tests. But simulation comes with its own challenges – particularly around data and analysis. A robust autonomous vehicle is going to have to be intelligent enough to navigate and respond to all of the myriad of conditions that a human could encounter – everything from bad weather and road hazards to mechanical failures and even bad drivers.

To create and train vehicles to deal with all of these scenarios requires more data than any one company could feasibly gather on its own in a reasonable time frame.

By open sourcing their tools, companies are looking to leverage the wider community to take part in some of the heavy lifting. more>

Updates from Adobe

I Can Get Paid for Bike Helmet Art?!
By Jordan Kushins – There’s so much freedom to be found on a bike: hop on, start pedaling, and go go go. But before setting out, adults have an important decision to make: to helmet or not to helmet. Danny Sun understands that despite the fact that strapping one on can literally save your life, helmets can be a tough sell for adults. “I know I work on a product that no one really wants to wear,” he says.

Sun is an art director at Bell, a longtime leader in the motorcycle and bicycle helmet field. He and senior designer Anne Mark have been adorning bike helmets—specifically, “mid-price-point helmets for average everyday riders,” she says—with colors, graphics, finishes, and more for more than a decade. They regularly collaborate with companies such as Disney, Lucasfilm, and Marvel, and produce custom lines for major big-box clients. The full-time job of a helmet designer requires far more than digital creative skills; here’s what it takes to make it in the challenging, curvilinear world of helmet art.

Personal reasons for going without headgear varies, but often, it’s an image thing. “There’s a whole generation who feel like helmets are really dorky,” says Sun.

In the quest to get as many riders as possible opting in, helmet designers have got to offer options that cater to that wide range of potential customers. It’s about finding a balance, but also pushing the boundaries a bit on what might spark a potential purchase—but also joy. more>

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From Europe-as-project to a real political community

By Marija Bartl – Seeing the EU as a ‘project’ echoes a longstanding preoccupation with Europe’s supposed destination—with its directionality. This is omnipresent in its constitutional documents (‘ever closer union’), its legislation (relentlessly oriented towards building the internal market) and the case law of its courts (a teleological interpretation of EU law), as well as in underlying political processes (‘more or less Europe’ as the central framing category of political discussion).

It is this preoccupation with directionality that so strikingly sets the EU apart from its member states. We do not query the ‘destination’ of Italy, or Poland—unless we have some cataclysmic event in mind. These political communities just are. Whatever direction they take, and whatever we think of that, is fundamentally a matter of politics.

Presenting the EU as a project frames it as something unfinished that needs further construction. It becomes an entity that is about policies rather than politics—which always needs to move forward and grow, to avoid Macron’s dread ‘status quo and resignation’.

The fact that we are as preoccupied with the EU’s directionality today as we were at its establishment six decades ago is something that should worry us—shouldn’t we know what we are by now?—but it should not come as a surprise. more>

Updates from Siemens

Motorsports is speeding the way to safer urban mobility
A novel Siemens partnership will apply the advanced automated and connected vehicle technologies to boost safety – first in motorsports and eventually in urban environments. The partnership brings together Siemens, with its broad, chip-to-city transportation technology portfolio, and the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), the world leader in the most advanced forms of motorsports.
By Edward Bernardon – The World Rally Championship is a fast, exciting and spectacular event, but it can also be dangerous, even for spectators. Some people risk their lives for a perfect photo or the perfect view. Spectators often cross barriers or suddenly jump out of scrubs just to take the ultimate photo of a passing Rally car – risking their own life and potentially endangering fellow-spectators, drivers and co-drivers.

Last year more than four million spectators attended Rally events, which take place on stages that can stretch across more than 25 kilometers. This can make it difficult for race organizers to monitor an entire stage, which are often on relatively narrow dirt and gravel roads that cut through diverse terrain, further hampering efforts of marshals or spotters to watch for fans who may be in harm’s way.

Rally organizers want the ability to quickly detect people in these unsafe areas. They need a solution that provides complete situational awareness of spectator location and flow in order to ensure that all spectators can safely enjoy an event. more>

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Updates from Siemens

New technology in industry is creating a platform economy
By Frank_Fang – Twenty years ago, product-centric companies dominated a list of the most valuable companies in the world. The list was a Who’s Who of automotive, manufacturing, oil and gas, and brick-and-mortar retailers.

Today, platform-based businesses rule.

This new economy forces product-centric manufacturing companies to rethink how they transform digitally to survive and thrive in a data-rich market. It’s no secret that new technology and new approaches eventually supersede the old.

We’re witnessing one of these periods now. As manufacturers look for ways to radically redefine processes through the hype of the sharing economy, online platforms, the end of money and all the other buzzwords people use today, digital twin evolution will lead to platform economy, a state Viktor Mayer-Schönberger foresees in his book Reinventing Capitalism in the Age of Big Data.

Digital twins, which evolve from decades of simulation and analysis in engineering, are high fidelity models for actual physical objects such as a product or production process. Using computer aided-design, model-based system engineering and multiphysics simulation tools, a designer or engineer creates a digital representation for a physical object or process.

The digital twin is no longer science fiction. For example, NASA used this approach to design, engineer and produce two Mars rovers: Curiosity and InSight.

Since you can’t build a Mars environment on earth, you simply bring Mars to the computer and digitally test your Mars rover. more>

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How Politics Delayed A Boeing Fix And Endangered Public Safety

By Steve Denning – This is an abrupt change for the Trump administration.

Just last night, the Acting Administrator of the FAA, Daniel K. Elwell, had doubled down on keeping the Boeing 737 MAX 8 in the air, stating that his agency’s extensive review of “aggregate safety performance from operators and pilots of the Boeing 737 MAX… shows no systemic performance issues and provides no basis to order grounding the aircraft.” Boeing’s CEO, Dennis Muilenburg, after a call with President Trump, had also declared his complete faith in the plane’s safety.

Trust in a crisis depends on truth-telling—something the current administration is not renowned for, with almost 10,000 false or misleading statements from the president alone.

In this case, the FAA statement last night did not disclose that five pilots had already raised serious concerns about the 737 MAX 8 in the federal database where pilots can voluntarily report about aviation incidents without fear of repercussions.

Instead, the FAA statement said, “Other nations’ civil-aviation authorities had not provided data to us that would warrant action.” Yet Elwell didn’t have to look to foreign civil aviation authorities for such evidence. There was such evidence, right here at home, as reported in the Dallas Morning News.

The FAA statement also did not disclose that Boeing had already issued an emergency airworthiness directive about the Boeing 737 Max 8 in response to the crash of Lion Air Flight 610 in Indonesia. The directive “was prompted by analysis performed by the manufacturer showing that if an erroneously high single angle of attack (AOA) sensor input is received by the flight control system, there is a potential for repeated nose-down trim commands of the horizontal stabilizer.”

Nor did the FAA statement disclose that Boeing and the FAA had been working together for some months to deal with the possibility that the Indonesia crash was caused by a malfunction of its stabilization system.

While it is reassuring the U.S. has finally taken action to ground the Boeing 737 MAX 8 and MAX 9, the sequence of events points to institutional issues in aviation safety generally. more>

Dignity for drivers: the DGB campaign for ‘fair mobility’

When is a posted worker in Europe not a posted worker? When he’s a truck driver, it seems.
By Martin Stuber and Michael Wahl – ‘A monthly pay of €1,000, no holidays, living separately from their families for two years—the bare figures alone are outrageous,’ the German magazine Stern reported on truck drivers from the Philippines who discovered the ‘wild west’ of Europe’s roads as posted workers for Polish companies. They had to share their driver cabin with a colleague and work, sleep and cook there.

Action on the European level is urgently needed to tackle such cross-border ‘day labor’.

Europe, however, seems to shy away from this solution. European decision makers have failed once again to create new rules on road haulage, in advance of the looming elections to the European Parliament in May. Where some saw too much liberalization, others demanded even more deregulation—and in the end there was no European consensus, neither on posting rules nor on driving and rest times.

Drivers who deliver services on behalf of western-European companies under an eastern-European working contract commonly only benefit from eastern-European minimum wages—around €500 a month. more>

Updates from Siemens

Why fulfilling airworthiness requirements means going digital
By Dave Chan and John Cunneen – Any organization that must consistently prove airworthiness requirements can relate to the frustrating tasks of locating and providing proof their products will perform in accordance with standards, rules and laws in a myriad of countries.

No more so is this appropriate than in the aerospace industry where everything is built on safety. Every rule, every design requirement has blood on it. These rules exist because someone was or can be hurt, a plane could crash, or any number of catastrophic incidents can occur.

This is why there are rigorous standards in place to ensure anything that can take off and land, from the smallest glider and helicopter to the largest commercial airliner and military jet, must receive and maintain an airworthiness certificate. The process of aircraft certification can be daunting simply because many organizations don’t take proactive approaches in the development phase through delivery to make it so. more>

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Updates from Ciena

Is technology the answer to stopping unsafe driving behaviors?
By Daniele Loffreda –  No matter how safe of a driver someone is, it just takes one instance of human error for an accident to happen. We shoot through the intersection just as the yellow light changes to red. We drift into the adjacent lane while responding to a text message. We nod out for a split-second because we didn’t get enough sleep the previous night.

Most times when taking these risks, we are lucky and manage to avoid an accident. But it only takes one unlucky moment to cause serious harm to yourself and your fellow motorists. For local departments of transportation (DOT), the multiplier effect of millions of drivers taking risks, can be devastating.

According to the Association for Safe International Road Travel:

  • Each year nearly 1.25 million people die in road crashes around the world, an average of 3,287 deaths a day
  • An additional 20-50 million people are injured or disabled annually
  • Road crashes cost USD $518 billion globally, costing individual countries from 1-2% of their annual GDP

According to the U.K.’s Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, human error is still the primary factor in 95% of road crashes.

Some innovative DOT’s have begun partnering with car manufacturers and technology vendors to make roadways safer by minimizing the potential for human error.  Many new vehicles are equipped with safety features like lane-departure correction, obstacle detection and collision avoidance.

And some manufacturers are beginning to include vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure technology (V2I) in their newer models.

Ciena is working with one trail-blazing DOT – the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). more>

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Updates from Siemens

Digital Enterprise Industry Solutions for Automotive Suppliers
Siemens – Mechanical, electrical and software systems of modern cars are often developed by suppliers and bring increasing integration challenges.

For suppliers, greater program complexity also increases the risk of quality issues and penalty costs associated with product failures are huge. Today’s automotive suppliers must deliver innovative technologies and solutions across a global delivery footprint without compromising any of the quality, cost and timing requirements of their customers.

Program success depends on collaboration between automakers and suppliers. Our solutions help suppliers digitalize planning, design, testing and manufacturing by breaking down barriers between engineering functions and providing real-time access to information through an open PLM platform. more>

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