Autonomous trucking company Starsky Robotics has closed its doors after failing to secure additional funding in late 2019. Anyone that follows the AI industry or the autonomous vehicle space knows that not every startup was going to make it to the finish line. But the demise of one of the pioneering companies of the autonomous trucking space strikes a particular cord.
Here was a company working on a specific niche case that has gathered interest from both government and private companies, and actually succeeding at it. Starsky took a LiDAR-free approach to autonomous trucking – focusing instead on automotive-grade camera systems and radar. The company made headlines in 2019 when it became the first company to have an autonomous truck drive on a live highway.
And they’re working in the right space. Analysts at Allied Market Research are predicting the self-driving truck market to be worth about $1.7 billion by 2025.
So what went wrong?
Source: Starsky Robotics Failure Offers a Sobering Look at the State of AI | Design News
Airbus has achieved the first ever fully automatic air-to-air refueling (A3R) operation with a boom system. The flight test campaign, conducted earlier in the year over the Atlantic Ocean, involved an Airbus tanker test aircraft equipped with the Airbus A3R solution, with an F-16 fighter aircraft of the Portuguese Air Force acting as a receiver.
This milestone is part of the industrialization phase of A3R systems ahead of its implementation in the A330 MRTT tanker development.
Source: Airbus achieves first fully automatic refueling contacts | Intelligent Aerospace
Since the February rendezvous, MEV-1 has assumed navigation of the combined spacecraft stack reducing its inclination by 1.6° and relocating IS-901 to its new orbital location. Intelsat then transitioned roughly 30 of its commercial and government customers to the satellite on April 2. The transition of service took approximately six hours. IS-901 is now operating at the 332.5°E orbital slot and providing full service to Intelsat customers.
“With a focus on providing the best customer experience in our industry, Intelsat is proud to have pioneered this innovative first with Northrop Grumman. We see increased demand for our connectivity services around the world, and preserving our customers’ experience using innovative technology such as MEV-1 is helping us meet that need,” said Intelsat Chief Services Officer Mike DeMarco.
Source: satellite mission extension | Intelligent Aerospace
Boeing announced today that 150 Max passenger aircraft orders were canceled in May, with leasing firm Avolon axing an order for 75, and Brazilian carrier Gol scrapping its order for 34.
Josephs reports that Boeing has removed 307 aircraft from its order list through the first three months of the year.
Source: boeing max orders canceled | Intelligent Aerospace
My intent is to focus on what electronics manufacturers as well as their engineering groups and suppliers are being driven to understand about the environmental and human health aspects of their products as a basic safety issue, the implications of that understanding, and how we can address it.
The electronics industry, as it formed and grew rapidly after the invention of the transistor, has never really focused on these issues — we’re comprised of electrical and electronics engineers, mechanical engineers, physicists, material scientists, and, to an extent (particularly the further back up the supply chain you go), chemists and chemical engineers. While toxicology has, as a science, been around as long as our ability to harness electrons, until very recently it hasn’t played a part in the electronic product development process and has effectively been roundly ignored.
In fact, the product safety standard covering computing equipment, cell phones, and most household electronics (IEC 62368-1) explicitly states that environmental and health safety due to hazardous substances are outside its scope. No reason for this is provided, but I will guess that it has to do with the distinct lack of expertise within the industry and within the IEC or International Electrotechnical Commission.
Source: Environmental and Health Safety; Electronics and the Circular Economy | EE Times
The pandemic is lending greater urgency to efforts aimed at reviving the flagging U.S. industrial base in response to global supply chain disruptions.
Government initiatives aimed at reviving U.S. manufacturing were already underway when the coronavirus effectively knocked out distribution channels linking Chinese manufacturers and U.S. consumers. For example, the Defense Department’s Industrial Base Analysis and Sustainment Office has aggressively sought to secure the electronics supply chain for critical infrastructure.
Meanwhile, several industrial base proposals have been floated in the U.S. Senate.
The ball has since been picked up by technology lobbying groups in Washington.
Source: Calls Grow Louder for U.S. Industrial Rebirth | EE Times
The supply chain slowdowns won’t be doing AVs (autonomous vehicles) any favors in the near-term, particularly for companies that don’t have a product that can be commercialized yet. The entire AV sector has drastically rolled back on expectations of having fully autonomous vehicles available on public roads any time soon. Setbacks related to COVID-19 will only exacerbate this.
Source: How Will COVID-19 Impact New Tech? | Design News
Molecular microfluidics diagnostics will be a key driver for growth. “Going back a decade, molecular microfluidic testing was the exception,” said Sébastien Clerc, technology & market analyst in microfluidics, sensing & actuating at Yole, in an interview with EE Times.
Only a few companies, such as Cepheid and BioFire, were marketing products. Microfluidics is now a mature technology, and the number of companies developing microfluidic-based solutions worldwide exceeds a thousand.
“Nowadays, we can automate complex sample preparations on microchips,” said Clerc. “To detect the presence of a pathogen, the molecular test remains the most reliable, especially when compared to immunoassays which are less expensive but less accurate.”
The Covid-19 pandemic will not artificially inflate the growth rates.
Source: Diagnostics Companies: Economic Winners of Covid-19 | EE Times
There’s been lots of chatter about China’s ambitions to become more semiconductor self-sufficient in recent years. The country’s “Made in China 2025” initiative is bearing fruit, with a homegrown company demonstrating further success with its proprietary architecture for 3D NAND flash memory chips.
Yangtze Memory Technologies Co.’s (YMTC) 3D 64L Xtacking TLC NAND device is already drawing considerable analysis by Ottawa, Canada-based TechInsights, which specializes in the reverse-engineering of semiconductors in advanced technology products.
Source: China’s Memory Ambitions Yield Competitive NAND | EE Times
After many years of growth, China’s home appliance industry has entered a mature consumption stage. A lack of new demand has plagued the market in recent years, and the outlook for 2020 isn’t rosy.
In 2018, the sales volume of China’s home appliance market in all channels was 810.4 billion yuan, according to public data. In 2019, this figure dropped to 803.2 billion yuan, a decrease of 7.2 billion yuan. Entering 2020, the sudden coronavirus outbreak has depressed demand further.
Source: China’s Booming Home Appliance Market Hits a Wall | EE Times