Category Archives: Transportation

How to Build a Better Automotive Radar System

By John Blyler – Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) rely heavily on modern radar technology. And why not? Radar uses electromagnetic waves to sense the environment. It can operate over a long distance in poor visibility or inclement weather conditions. Designing automotive RF that accurately captures diverse traffic situations will be essential in making autonomous operations safe.

Radar systems are no newcomer to the automotive space. In the past, automotive radar was used in vehicles for basic operations such as automatic emergency braking (AEB) and adaptive cruise control (ACC), where the radar sensor only had to provide the vehicle with information relating to the distance and speed of the target in front of it.

However, recent trends to deploy a fully autonomous vehicle have increased the amount of information that a vehicle demands from the radar sensor. Specifically, after detecting a target, the host vehicle must determine several things, such as the distance to a target – be it another car, a person, a stationary object, or the like. The radar must also calculate how fast the target is approaching or departing; whether it is to the right, left, or straight ahead of the vehicle; on the road or above the ground; and the nature of the target, i.e., pedestrian or vehicle, for example.

Automotive radar technology can provide essential, real-time information to the vehicle’s onboard embedded computers and software algorithms to answer these questions by providing five-dimensional datasets: Range, Doppler, Azimuthal direction of arrival (DoA), Elevation direction of arrival (DoA), and Micro-Doppler.

As vehicles migrate from SAE level 1 to level 5 full autonomy, automotive radar technology will be used for far more than emergency braking and adaptive cruise control with ever-increasing reliability and accuracy demands. more>

TThe US jumps on board the electric vehicle revolution, leaving Australia in the dust

By Jake Whitehead, Dia Adhikari Smith and Thara Philip – The Morrison government on Friday released a plan to reduce carbon emissions from Australia’s road transport sector. Controversially, it ruled out consumer incentives to encourage electric vehicle uptake. The disappointing document is not the electric vehicle jump-start the country sorely needs.

In contrast, the United States has recently gone all-in on electric vehicles. Like leaders in many developed economies, President Joe Biden will offer consumer incentives to encourage uptake of the technology. The nation’s entire government vehicle fleet will also transition to electric vehicles made in the US.

Electric vehicles are crucial to delivering the substantial emissions reductions required to reach net-zero by 2050 – a goal Prime Minister Scott Morrison now says he supports.

It begs the question: when will Australian governments wake up and support the electric vehicle revolution? more>

Why Immigration Drives Innovation

Economic history reveals one unmistakable psychological pattern.
By Joseph Henrich – When President Coolidge signed the Johnson-Reed Act into law in 1924, he drained the well-spring of American ingenuity. The new policy sought to restore the ethnic homogeneity of 1890 America by tightening the 1921 immigration quotas. As a result, immigration from eastern Europe and Italy plummeted, and Asian immigrants were banned. Assessing the law’s impact, the economists Petra Moser and Shmuel San show how this steep and selective cut in immigration stymied U.S. innovation across a swath of scientific fields, including radio waves, radiation and polymers—all fields in which Eastern European immigrants had made contributions prior to 1924. Not only did patenting drop by two-thirds across 36 scientific domains, but U.S-born researchers became less creative as well, experiencing a 62% decline in their own patenting. American scientists lost the insights, ideas and fresh perspectives that inevitably flow in with immigrants.

Before this, from 1850 to 1920, American innovation and economic growth had been fueled by immigration. The 1899 inflow included a large fraction of groups that were later deemed “undesirable”: e.g., 26% Italians, 12% “Hebrews,” and 9% “Poles.” Taking advantage of the randomness provided by expanding railroad networks and changing circumstances in Europe, a trio of economists—Sandra Sequeira, Nathan Nunn and Nancy Qian–demonstrate that counties that ended up with more immigrants subsequently innovated more rapidly and earned higher incomes, both in the short-term and today. The telephone, hot blast furnace, screw propeller, flashlight and ironclad ship were all pioneered by immigrants. The analysis also suggests that immigrants made native-born Americans more creative. Nikola Tesla, a Serbian who grew up in the Austrian Empire, provided George Westinghouse, a New Yorker whose parents had migrated from Westphalia, with a key missing component for his system of electrification based on AC current (Tesla also patented 100s of other inventions).

In ending the quotas imposed under the Harding-Coolidge administration, President Johnson remarked in 1964 that “Today, with my signature, this system is abolished…Men of needed skill and talent were denied entrance because they came from southern or eastern Europe or from one of the developing continents…” By the mid-1970s, U.S innovation was again powerfully fueled by immigrants, now coming from places like Mexico, China, India, Philippines and Vietnam. From 1975 to 2010, an additional 10,000 immigrants generated 22% more patents every five years. Again, not only did immigrants innovate, they also stoked the creative energies of the locals. more>

Updates from McKinsey

Reimagining the auto industry’s future: It’s now or never
Disruptions in the auto industry will result in billions lost, with recovery years away. Yet companies that reimagine their operations will perform best in the next normal.
By Thomas Hofstätter, Melanie Krawina, Bernhard Mühlreiter, Stefan Pöhler, and Andreas Tschiesner – Electric mobility, driverless cars, automated factories, and ridesharing—these are just a few of the major disruptions the auto industry faced even before the COVID-19 crisis. Now with travel deeply curtailed by the pandemic, and in the midst of worldwide factory closures, slumping car sales, and massive layoffs, it’s natural to wonder what the “next normal” for the auto sector will look like. Over the past few months, we’ve seen the first indicators of this automotive future becoming visible, with the biggest industry changes yet to come.

Many of the recent developments raise concern. For instance, the COVID-19 crisis has compelled about 95 percent of all German automotive-related companies to put their workforces on short-term work during the shutdown, a scheme whereby employees are temporarily laid off and receive a substantial amount of their pay through the government. Globally, the repercussions of the COVID-19 crisis are immense and unprecedented. In fact, many auto-retail stores have remained closed for a month or more. We estimate that the top 20 OEMs in the global auto sector will see profits decline by approximately $100 billion in 2020, a roughly six-percentage-point decrease from just two years ago. It might take years to recover from this plunge in profitability.

At the operational level, the pandemic has accelerated developments in the automotive industry that began several years ago. Many of these changes are largely positive, such as the growth of online traffic and the greater willingness of OEMs to cooperate with partners—automotive and otherwise—to address challenges. Others, however, can have negative effects, such as the tendency to focus on core activities, rather than exploring new areas. While OEMs may now be concentrating on the core to keep the lights on, the failure to investigate other opportunities could hurt them long term.

As they navigate this crisis, automotive leaders may gain an advantage by reimagining their organizational structures and operations. Five moves can help them during this process: radically focusing on digital channels, shifting to recurring revenue streams, optimizing asset deployment, embracing zero-based budgeting, and building a resilient supply chain. One guiding principle—the need to establish a strong decision-making cadence—will also help. We believe that the window of opportunity for making these changes will permanently close in a few months—and that means the time to act is now or never. more>

Updates from McKinsey

Global emergence of electrified small-format mobility
Electric two- and three-wheel vehicles are gaining in popularity. What does the future hold for the market?
By Patrick Hertzke, Jitesh Khanna, Bhavesh Mittal, and Felix Richter – Inventors patented the first electric bikes back in the 1890s, but their innovations never garnered the same attention as other early-transportation milestones, including the first subways and the Model T Ford. Today, however, several trends have converged to bring e-bikes out of obscurity. Sales of electric vehicles (EVs) are increasing as governments crack down on emissions. Meanwhile, innovators have introduced new technologies and business models that are breathing life into the market for small-format EVs (those with two or three wheels). Improbable as it may seem, e-bikes could finally be having their day.

To gain more insight into the burgeoning market, we examined worldwide trends for small-format EVs, looking at both geographic growth patterns and the forces shaping the industry. Our analysis shed some light on strategies that can help OEMs and other players succeed as small-format EVs gain traction.

The sales figures for small-format EVs may initially seem modest. The market for two-wheel EVs (E2Ws) and three-wheel EVs (E3Ws) was valued at around $97 billion, or 4 percent of global auto sales. The sector has momentum, however, and global sales of E2Ws and E3Ws are increasing by more than 14 percent annually. (That figure excludes sales in China, which was an early adopter of small-format EVs and is thus experiencing slower growth.) By 2022, global sales of E2Ws and E3Ws could reach $150 billion.

It’s impossible to generalize about global sales trends, since transportation patterns and preferences vary widely by location, but some country-specific developments are striking. Take China: the country now accounts for around 30 percent of the global market for small-format EVs. What’s more, more than 80 percent of 2Ws in China are electrified, making it the dominant market by far in that category. The story may soon change, however, since growth of E2Ws is plateauing in China and surging in the European Union, Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa, and Southeast Asia.

India sells the largest number of E3Ws by far, and they now account for about half of all rickshaws in the country. By 2026, around 80 percent of 3Ws in India will be electric. One caveat: if more light commercial vehicles become electrified, they could become the default option for cargo transport, provided that their performance and economics improve.

Globally, we expect electrification to accelerate most quickly in the scooter and light-motorcycle segments. Electrification of heavy motorcycles will follow, but it won’t reach the levels seen with smaller vehicles. more>

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Updates from McKinsey

Many investments in digital farming have not fulfilled their full potential. What can companies do to improve returns?
Creating value in digital-farming solutions
By Shane Bryan, David Fiocco, Mena Issler, RS Mallya Perdur, and Michael Taksyak – Over the past 20 years, agriculture has undergone a digital revolution. It started quietly with original-equipment manufacturers that began to sell harvesters with guidance systems and auto steering, then roared to life in 2013 with Monsanto’s nearly $1 billion acquisition of the digital-agriculture company Climate Corporation. Since then, there has been an arms race within the industry, with billions of dollars invested and hundreds of millions of acres affected by digital farming.

The rapid pace of investment and broad adoption of digital technologies on the farm are a testament to the power of digital to reduce costs, boost yields, and put more money in the pockets of growers. However, despite the promise of digital-farming solutions, our research suggests that such investments have not lived up to expectations of the companies that made them. To explore why this might be the case and what could be done to improve outcomes, we conducted a survey of more than 100 industry executives from across the agriculture value chain.

For the purpose of this article, we define “digital farming” as any platform or application that processes input data to provide growers or crop advisers with agronomic decision-making support. These include proven digital offerings (such as variable-rate application) and ones that are more novel (such as in-season sensing). We excluded automation equipment, drones, and services that are not linked to agronomic decisions (for example, fleet-management software).

The survey found that most agriculture companies have invested in digital-farming solutions, but less than 40 percent of respondents (representing a broad swath of the industry) self-reported positive returns. To understand why, we tested a number of success factors, several of which dramatically increase perceived success. These standout factors include:

  • high attention from CEO and top team
  • clear strategy and business case linked to value creation
  • at-scale investment

About two-thirds of survey respondents indicated they had just one of these success factors in place; this suggests that the disappointing returns from digital-farming investments may be due to lack of adequate preparation. more>

Updates from Siemens

Solid Edge 2021 Feature Highlights: Free CAD Models for Solid Edge Users
By Shannon Kruse -Solid Edge 2021 has been launched and with it comes a vast array of new capabilities and features for users! In this blog series, we will be highlighting a new capability every other week, allowing you to become familiar with the software and learn what Solid Edge 2021 has to offer.

This week’s blog post will be covering 3Dfindit.com, powered by CADENAS. 3Dfindit.com, an online visual search engine, streamlines the process of finding 3D models using advanced search functions such as classifications, geometry, filters, sketches and much more to allow you to significantly reduce technical search times and increase design efficiency.

3Dfindit.com for Solid Edge gives engineers like you a wide variety of intuitive search methods, making it easy to find the exact part you are looking for. You can create a rough model in Solid Edge and initiate a geometric search in 3Dfindit.com to find parts that are similar to that specific model. With millions of 2D and 3D CAD files verified by component manufacturers to choose from, you can easily select and configure the components that match your needs. Once the proper part is located, a single click places it directly into your active Solid Edge assembly.

CAD files of requested parts are automatically generated on the fly, ready to use in Solid Edge. Depending on the catalog, the digital parts are enriched with extensive metadata such as kinematics information to test motion sequences, centers of mass, material, environmental protection standards, order numbers, etc. This saves time by enabling engineers to find and deploy approved parts instead of manually creating them. more>

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Assess Your Supply Chain Security Now!

How would your supply chain hold up during a cyberattack? Now is the time to find out.
By John Blyler – Misery loves company and pandemics are no exception. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 chaos, global organizations have been reporting an increase in cyberattacks against their supply chains. Other reports predicted that supply chain security for 2020 was already going to be a weak spot. Recent security breaches, such as Ripple20, magnify the challenging circumstances companies can face should their organizations lack security in their supply chain infrastructure.

How should companies prepare for supply chain cyberattacks during COVID-19, for example, a breach among one of their suppliers or the financial repercussions they would face. To answer these questions and others, Design News sought out the answers from Gonda Lamberink, Global Senior Business Development Manager at UL. The company provides an assessment tool that helps manufacturers and integrators obtain a holistic view of their suppliers’ security postures through a fair and consistent evaluation method.

What are some of the difficulties in restarting a business with the easing of COVID-19 restrictions?

Due to the pandemic, UL perceives more of a shift, rather than new cybersecurity issues, including within supply chains. These cybersecurity issues are related to certain types of attacks with a larger number of people working from home and evolving supply chain sourcing strategies. more>

The ‘circular economy’—neither safe nor sustainable

The circular economy holds out the hope of living within the planet’s resources. Turning aspiration into action is another matter.

By Vera Weghmann – A little over a year ago, schoolchildren across the globe embarked on huge strikes over the climate emergency. Our global economic system is unsustainable: continuous economic growth and endless consumption mean ever-increasing waste. Waste which is buried, dumped at sea or turned into ash pollutes the environment and creates the need to extract further raw materials.

The European Union’s ambition to move towards a circular economy, and in particular its Circular Economy Action Plan, should therefore be welcomed. The circular economy implies radical change to how production and consumption are organized—away from a linear model of growth (extract, make, dispose) to a sustainable alternative (recycle, reuse, remake, share). Waste then becomes a resource.

In a report commissioned by the European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU), I showed however that the circular economy does not operate of itself. Especially, waste management—central to the circular economy—is an essential public service. Unfortunately, the pay of workers in waste management is often low, working conditions hard and unpleasant and, on top of that, health and safety is often disregarded. The report highlighted that very little attention has been paid to workers operating essential waste services to keep society running and maintain a sustainable environment. In the EU action plan the workers—formal and informal—relied upon are not even mentioned. more>

Updates from Siemens

New Mentor Capital book
By Yun – Capital is a comprehensive software suite that enables the engineering of electrical systems for large platforms such as cars, aircraft, and sophisticated machines. These platforms have substantial and increasing electronic content, which are dependent upon complex electrical distribution systems to function. Trends such as powertrain electrification and increased vehicle autonomy intensify these challenges leading companies to utilize Capital to overcome them.

Capital was introduced into China for the first time in 2004. It was first applied in the aviation field, and then quickly occupied the market. It was also widely used in aerospace, ship and automobile manufacturing fields. At present, the software has become the electrical system design software with very high market share in China. Capital divides the electrical system into three levels: layout diagram, circuit diagram / schematic diagram and cable network. Capital can assist in design, layout, wiring and inspection at different levels, which greatly improves the efficiency and reliability of electrical system design. At the same time, Capital has a large version upgrade and a number of minor upgrades almost every year. Mentor can timely correct the problems found according to customer practice, add new functions to Capital, keep up with the latest development of computer-aided design technology, and constantly help to improve the design efficiency and reliability of electrical system.

With the development of electronic information technology and the continuous enrichment of social needs, the electrical system in the fields of aviation, aerospace, ship and automobile has become more and more complex, huge and important. The traditional design method has been difficult to ensure the completion of highly reliable electrical system design in a limited time. More and more designers and companies want to help themselves through Capital Electrical system design. more>

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