Category Archives: Transportation

Do you live in a ‘soft city’? Here’s why you probably want to

By Eillie Anzilotti – Imagine yourself sitting in your home. What’s right outside your front door, and what’s within a 10-minute walk of it? Can you make it to a grocery store or a café on foot, or do you have to drive? Is there a shared space nearby, a park or a patio, where you can mingle with the people who live around you? Do you often see people out and about, or do your neighbors mostly stay inside? What about the street: Is it filled with only cars, or do you see people biking and taking transit? Do you feel safe walking on the sidewalk that lines your front door (if there even is a sidewalk)? Are there places to sit along it?

It’s just a sample of the kinds of questions that preoccupy David Sim, creative director and partner at Gehl. Based in Copenhagen, Gehl has long pioneered the idea of human-centered urban design. Rather than thinking about cities as a collection of buildings and impressive developments, designers like Sim thinks about them as a series of relationships: between people and place, people and planet, and people and other people. “The starting point is not a big, architectural urban idea—it’s about being a little human being, and how can you connect that human being to as many experiences as possible,” he says.

Good cities, from Sim’s perspective, are ones that make these connections possible. They can look different and exist in different contexts, but they share an overarching and essential quality, which Sim calls “softness”—a stark contrast to the rhetoric of “grind” and “harshness” that’s often applied to urban life. more>

Updates from Georgia Tech

Tiny Vibration-Powered Robots Are the Size of the World’s Smallest Ant
By John Toon – Researchers have created a new type of tiny 3D-printed robot that moves by harnessing vibration from piezoelectric actuators, ultrasound sources or even tiny speakers. Swarms of these “micro-bristle-bots” might work together to sense environmental changes, move materials – or perhaps one day repair injuries inside the human body.

The prototype robots respond to different vibration frequencies depending on their configurations, allowing researchers to control individual bots by adjusting the vibration. Approximately two millimeters long – about the size of the world’s smallest ant – the bots can cover four times their own length in a second despite the physical limitations of their small size.

“We are working to make the technology robust, and we have a lot of potential applications in mind,” said Azadeh Ansari, an assistant professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. “We are working at the intersection of mechanics, electronics, biology and physics. It’s a very rich area and there’s a lot of room for multidisciplinary concepts.”

A paper describing the micro-bristle-bots has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering. The research was supported by a seed grant from Georgia Tech’s Institute for Electronics and Nanotechnology. In addition to Ansari, the research team includes George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering Associate Professor Jun Ueda and graduate students DeaGyu Kim and Zhijian (Chris) Hao. more>

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Updates from Siemens

Paragon VTOL Aerospace adopts solutions from Siemens to streamline next-generation design
By Alisa Coffey – The need for increased performance and reduced time-to-market has led Paragon VTOL Aerospace, a global vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft provider for numerous industries, to adopt solutions from Siemens Digital Industries Software through its product development process. Paragon produces industry-specific drone hardware ranging from security applications for agricultural theft and commuter law adherence to human passenger drones.

Paragon is also partnering with Aerotropolis Jamaica, a national project spearheaded by the Hon. L. Michael Henry in the Office of the Prime Minister, to build an ecosystem for Urban Air Mobility (UAM). The company plans to achieve positive results by reducing time and cost of its product development and testing through implementation of key technology from Siemens.

“Our vision is to provide a portfolio of intellectual property, industry specific drones, human passenger drones, and virtual highway platforms in Jamaica,” said Paragon VTOL founder and oil executive Dwight Smith, a native Jamaican and American citizen. “We currently have plans to implement software and hardware programs in 2019 and begin testing their two to four passenger drones by year-end 2019.”

Paragon has been developing their platform and much of the technology through collaboration with Siemens, major American universities, Silicon Valley experts, and ex-military personnel. Siemens is providing an integrated set of software solutions including STAR-CCM+, Simcenter, and NX for Paragon to design, test, produce, and monitor its extensive range of drone systems. more>

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Updates from Siemens

Digitalize battery manufacturing for a greener future with electric vehicles

By Vincent Guo – The electrification of automobiles is gaining momentum globally as many countries have laid out plans to prohibit the sales of internal combustion engine (ICE) cars. The closing deadline is 2025 for the Netherlands and Norway, with Germany and India to be the next down the line in 2030, followed by UK and France in 2040. Other major economies in the world provide aggressive initiatives to push the electric vehicle (EV) to the market. For example, USA, China, Norway, Denmark, and South Korea have been implementing cash subsidiaries to EV buyers over $10,000 per vehicle, with Denmark and South Korea paying the consumer almost 20,000 Euro for each car purchased.

These incentive plans, however, also indicate that the price of EV is still high comparing to traditional cars. Independent research shows that the cost of the electrical powertrain is roughly 50% of the EV while, while the cost of the powertrain for ICE cars is only 16%. While it is largely true that the components of a car, whether it is an EV or ICE car, are largely similar except for the powertrain, the source of the difference in total cost is obviously the powertrain. The most expensive component is the battery pack, which accounts for roughly half of the powertrain and a quarter of the entire car.

Fortunately, the cost of the battery is going down steadily in the past 10 years. It is about to hit the point that the total cost of an EV is competitive to an ICE car and the point is about 125-150 USD/kWh.

As a result, battery manufacturing capacity has been ramping up quickly. Tesla is leading the way by its Gigafacotry in Nevada with target annual capacity of 35 GWh. Yet the race is tight as the battery manufacturing in Asia is catching up. CATL of China had recently announced a plan to boost its capacity in Germany to 100 GWh. more>

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Updates from Siemens

BAR Technologies uses Siemens Digital Industries Software solutions to create a new class of sport yacht
Siemens – With an optimized hull and dynamically adjusting foils that enable greater efficiency over a wider range of speeds, it’s a boat designed for both performance and comfort. The Princess Yachts R35 was made possible by BAR Technologies, which uses highly specialized techniques and processes when designing an America’s Cup racing yacht. BAR Technologies is now offering its unique expertise to customers across the marine industry.

Princess Yachts first approached BAR Technologies with the aim of creating a completely new design that would attract people who had not previously considered buying a boat. The new design was to be an entry-level purchase: a day boat that was exciting yet easy to drive. Paul Mackenzie, director of product development at Princess Yachts, explains: “We have a very high percentage of return customers and once they are in the Princess family they tend to move up our range, so introductory boats have always been important. However, most people who buy a Princess are already boat enthusiasts. We were looking to expand our potential market, closing the gap between boat owner and car owner, with a product that could be positioned alongside a super car.”

Simon Schofield, chief technology officer at BAR Technologies, adds “Our brief was to devise a technically driven design with increased efficiency and accessible performance, yet retain the luxury and quality that Princess is known for. The digital modeling and simulation tools and techniques that we have established over several years were critical to the fulfillment of the brief.”

The integrated virtual environment at BAR Technologies uses solutions from Siemens Digital Industries Software. These include NX™ software for product design,Teamcenter® software for data management and the Simcenter™ software portfolio, which includes Simcenter™ Nastran® for engineering analysis and Simcenter STAR-CCM+® software for computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysis. more>

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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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