Category Archives: Transportation

Updates from Siemens

Automotive manufacturing and autonomous vehicles
By Dave Lauzun – Automotive manufacturing has been happening for a long time, but when most people think of automotive manufacturing, they imagine a moving assembly line. The moving assembly line revolutionized how vehicle manufacturers produce cars, but it wasn’t always the go-to process.

As vehicles were first beginning to be built at the turn of twentieth century, vehicle manufacturers typically built the whole car at once. It was a time-consuming, costly process that kept cars out of most consumers’ hands.

In 1913, over at Ford Motor Company, Henry Ford wanted to cut down on the time and cost associated with building the Model T. He needed to find an efficient way to build this car, and he came up with idea of being able to “productionize” the Model T through a moving assembly line. In this assembly line, the Model T production was broken down into 84 steps, and employees were trained to do just one step.

The results of this change were enormous for Ford Motor Company. The automaker drastically reduced the time it took to build the Model T from 12 hours to 90 minutes. The cost savings in manpower and time to produce the vehicle on the assembly line also meant the company could drop the price of the Model T from $850 to $300.

How will automakers turn their focus away from research and development and toward the mass production of autonomous vehicles? And, how can that mass production be economically viable for their business and for their customers? more>

Updates from GE

Going For Great: In A Deal Valued At $6.5 Billion, GE Jet Engines Will Power American’s New Dreamliner Fleet
By Tomas Kellner – American Airlines, which helped launch GE into commercial aviation 45 years ago, said it would power 47 additional new Boeing 787 with GE Aviation’s GEnx-1B engines. The $6.5 billion deal includes a 20-year service agreement. This order follows a previous order for 42 such planes placed several years ago.

Airlines have ordered more than 2,000 GEnx engines since 2004, when Boeing selected the model for its 787 Dreamliner jets. Eager to save weight and improve efficiency, GE engineers took the GE90, the world’s most powerful jet engine developed a decade earlier, and remodeled it.

The GEnx has already entered the record books. In 2011, a GEnx-1B-powered Dreamliner flew halfway around the world on a tank of gas, then finished the job on the next tank. The journey set a weight-class distance record for the 10,337-nautical mile first leg and a record for quickest around-the-world flight at an astonishing 42 hours and 27 minutes.

What’s next? GE engineers could upgrade the engines with space-age materials called ceramic matrix composites, or CMCs. CMCs can handle temperatures as high as 2,400 degrees Fahrenheit and withstand the punishing forces inside the engines. more>

Updates from Siemens

Digital Enterprise Industry Solutions for Rail Systems
Siemens – Increasing complexity of the rail industry requires systems-driven approaches to product development that combine systems engineering with integrated product definition. Our Digital Enterprise Industry Solutions unify product development with manufacturing to provide functional networking, advanced modeling and simulation, and an intuitive user experience.

Rail transport is a key element in the mobility of communities, moving citizens and goods in comfort and safety while minimizing environmental impact.

Rail transport can be a source of noise, vibration and pollution. It can event present a nuisance or threat to surrounding infrastructure. Whether you are manufacturing train, tram, metro, subway, light rail or monorail systems, our solutions offer a comprehensive, integrated design, simulation and manufacturing environment for developing rail systems.

Managing pass-by-noise of rail transport is a constraint in cities with dense populations. Performance and reliability of rail systems also present operational concerns. Our rail design, simulation and testing solutions optimize noise and vibration comfort.

Our solutions enable you to make smart design decisions so that your rail systems carry people and freight cleanly, efficiently and quietly. more>

A radical proposal to keep your personal data safe

By Richard Stallman – Broader, meaning extending to all surveillance systems, not just Facebook. Deeper, meaning to advance from regulating the use of data to regulating the accumulation of data. Because surveillance is so pervasive, restoring privacy is necessarily a big change, and requires powerful measures.

The surveillance imposed on us today far exceeds that of the Soviet Union. For freedom and democracy’s sake, we need to eliminate most of it. There are so many ways to use data to hurt people that the only safe database is the one that was never collected. Thus, instead of the EU’s approach of mainly regulating how personal data may be used (in its General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR), I propose a law to stop systems from collecting personal data.

The robust way to do that, the way that can’t be set aside at the whim of a government, is to require systems to be built so as not to collect data about a person. The basic principle is that a system must be designed not to collect certain data, if its basic function can be carried out without that data.

Frills on the system, such as the feature of letting a passenger review the list of past journeys, are not part of the basic function, so they can’t justify incorporating any additional surveillance.

What about security? Such systems in areas where the public are admitted must be designed so they cannot track people.

The EU’s GDPR regulations are well-meaning, but do not go very far. It will not deliver much privacy, because its rules are too lax. They permit collecting any data if it is somehow useful to the system, and it is easy to come up with a way to make any particular data useful for something. more>

Why a trade war with China would hurt the U.S. and its allies, too

By David Dollar and Zhi Wang – Two-thirds of world trade now occurs through global value chains that cross at least one border during the production process, and often many borders. As a result, the typical “Chinese product” that the United States imports has a lot of value-added from countries other than China.

Furthermore, in computers and electronics, more than half of China’s exports come from multinational firms operating in China.

U.S. firms are also involved in production chains. Thirty-seven percent of U.S. imports from China are intermediate products used by American firms to make themselves more competitive. Putting tariffs on intermediate products is shooting oneself in the foot. The list of targeted products posted by the United States includes some intermediates, such as aircraft propellers.

Many of the targeted products are consumer goods such as televisions and dishwashers.

What all this means is that tariffs are a very poor instrument for punishing China for any unfair trading practices. Some of the cost will be borne by American consumers; some by American firms that either produce in China or use intermediate products from China; some by firms in countries (mostly U.S. allies) that supply China; and some by Chinese firms (mostly private ones). more>

Updates from Boeing

737 MAX efficiency, reliability, passenger appeal
Boeing – The Boeing 737 MAX family brings the latest technology to the most popular jet aircraft of all time, the 737. The 737 MAX is designed to provide passengers with a comfortable flying experience and more direct routes to their favorite destinations.

Airlines are taking advantage of the MAX’s incredible range and flexibility, offering passengers connections to smaller cities around the globe including transatlantic and trans-continental routes.

The unmatched reliability of the MAX means more 737 flights depart on time with fewer delays. And technological advances plus powerful LEAP-1B engines are helping to redefine the future of efficient and environmentally friendly air travel. more>

Updates from Georgia Tech

Simulation Supports Program to Help Pilots in Degraded Visual Environments
By John Toon – A degraded visual environment occurs when helicopters landing on loose soil, such as desert terrain, stir up dust that creates brownout conditions which make it challenging for pilots to see obstacles on the ground. The simulation will support the development of a multi-sensor system designed to give U.S. Army rotorcraft pilots better situational awareness during these challenging conditions.

GTRI researchers are developing different ways to show fused sensor images to pilots during brownout conditions. In an Army cockpit simulator lab, experienced rotorcraft pilots will use the simulations to determine how information should be presented during high-stress approach, landing and takeoff conditions. The pilot feedback will assist the Army in defining the Pilot Vehicle Interface for the new Degraded Visual Environment (DVE) system that will be used on Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters. It will also be used to inform a milestone decision for integration into the Army aviation platforms.

The simulation project is challenging because the data comes from different sources, at different data rates and different resolutions. The emulator must work accurately under varying conditions, including daytime and nighttime operations. Because the system is used to analyze pilot interaction with the new sensors, the provided solution includes flexibility to easily reconfigure various parameters such as symbology sets, types of sensors, sensor performance characteristics, and symbology color. more>

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Updates from GE

Next Stop, Kyiv: Ukrainian Railways’ $1 Billion Deal With
GE Is Set To Dispatch Its Trains Into the Future

By Dorothy Pomerantz – Today (Feb 23, 2018), the Ukrainian government announced it will buy 30 new GE locomotives, which will be built in the U.S. and will arrive in Ukraine for final assembly by the end of the year. The framework agreement, which is valued at over $1 billion, also includes the modernization of existing locomotives in Ukrainian Railways’ fleet, plus additional new GE units over the next decade and a long-term service contract to help maintain them.

The deal is part of a rail-system upgrade the country is undertaking to make sure its $2 billion agricultural sector, which the U.S. Department of Commerce calls “the most promising sector” of the country’s economy, can continue to sell and export the food it produces.

Crucial to this plan: locomotives that work better and don’t break down.

Modernizing a locomotive is like gut-renovating a house, stripping it down to the bare studs and putting in all new walls, stairways and appliances. For Ukrainian Railways, the modernization process will start with the old Soviet-built locomotives that the national rail company has been using for decades.

Workers from GE and local companies will take out the locomotive’s insides, the control system, radiator and engine, until only the bare metal skeleton is left. Then each locomotive will be rebuilt with a shipment of GE equipment, known as a kit. more>

What Happens to US NewSpace Industry After ISS?

By Andrew Rush – Just as the early railroads transformed the American West and spurred an economic boom across our then young nation, commercial activity in space is blossoming. Expansion of these activities, especially in-space manufacturing, will expand human activity outward and lead to new American economic booms. While the promise of commercial activities in space may be as vast as the promise of the American West, actions must be taken now in order to stay on the path of converting this promise to economic value.

Much of our current progress in space-based operations such as manufacturing can be credited to the multibillion dollar investment in the creation of International Space Station (ISS) and the designation of the U.S. segment of ISS as a National Lab for conducting space-based research for economic development in Low Earth Orbit (LEO).

With the direct U.S. support of the ISS proposed to end in the 2025 timeframe, there’s an industry imperative to scale up and accelerate planning for transition from ISS to commercial space stations or other Private-Public Partnership (PPP) models.

If action is not taken, investment in the ISS and the ISS National Lab, private investment in ISS-based activity, and budding space-based products and services will be wasted. more>

Updates from GE

Engine Czech: This University Partnership Is Set To Propel Turboprop Engineering To New Heights
By Tomas Kellner – GE has spent the last 100 years building GE Aviation into a leading force in the aerospace industry. Since it was founded in 1918, the business unit, which brought in $27 billion in revenue last year, has introduced key innovations: It built the first jet engine in the United States and the largest and most powerful jet engines in the world; supplied engine parts for the largest commercial jetliner; and pioneered new materials and technologies like composites and 3D printing.

But it’s been only in the last decade that its Business and General Aviation unit, which is building engines and other technology for private and business planes, decided to pay close attention to the multibillion-dollar turboprop market.

“The turboprop segment has been underserved for decades,” says Brad Mottier, who runs the GE Aviation division. “Airframe customers and operators alike complained about the lack of innovation.”

This week, Mottier and his business said they are inviting the sharpest young engineers in the Czech Republic to help them transform the way we power small aircraft. The company will partner with Prague’s Czech Technical University (CVUT) to help bring up a new generation of aerospace engineers.

Why Prague? The Czech capital is the place where GE decided to jump into the turboprop engine market in 2008, when it took a bet on a storied but struggling turboprop manufacturer, Walter Engines.

Just like the Wright brothers, founder Josef Walter started out fixing and building bicycles before venturing into aviation. Established in 1911, his company ran aviation factories in Italy, Spain, Poland and elsewhere in Europe that produced record-breaking engines for planes used by 13 sovereign air forces. more>