Canada is Testing its First Autonomous RV
Our Neighbors up North have finally entered the race to develop self-driving cars.
The decade-long project, costing almost $3 million, involves three vehicles: a Lincoln MKZ hybrid sedan (adorably dubbed, “Autonomoose”), developed by the University of Waterloo; a 2017 Lincoln, developed by software company, BlackBerry QNX; and a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Van, courtesy of motorhome company, Erwin Hymer Group.
The last of the three vehicles, essentially a $200,000 RV, is intended to operate in all kinds of weather conditions in Ontario—the first Canadian province to permit the testing of autonomous cars on its roadways.
“We think it’s the ideal platform for an autonomous vehicle,” said Joel Adams, director of engineering for Erwin Hymer Group North America. “Google has little bumper cars that just hold one or two people in them. We think it’s going to be a much more social environment, where you can take along your entire family.”
Teenage Girls Have Built Africa’s First Private Satellite
As part of a high school science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) project, fourteen South African teenage girls have designed and built the payload for a satellite that will launch in May 2017. The aircraft will orbit over Earth’s poles, scanning the African surface and providing detailed thermal imagery twice a day.
This data will help prevent disasters (like drought and floods) and improve food security across the continent. This year alone, Southern Africa experienced a shortfall of 9.3 million tons of maize because of an El Nino-induced drought.
“We can try to determine and predict the problems Africa will be facing in the future,” said Brittany Bull, a student at South Africa’s Pelican Park High School. “Where our food is growing, where we can plant more trees and vegetation, and also how we can monitor remote areas…We have a lot of forest fires and floods, but we don’t always get out there in time.”
Headed by South Africa’s Meta Economic Development Organization (MEDO), the project marks the first satellite launch by an African private company. Perhaps more importantly, however, the young students’ accomplishment serves as an inspiration for African teenagers, particularly young women, who want to work in the STEM arenas.
“I want to show to fellow girls that we don’t need to sit around or limit ourselves. Any career is possible—even aerospace,” said Bull.
The MEDO group is looking to expand its reach and involve girls from Namibia, Malawi, Kenya, and Rwanda.
Japan Announces Plans to Build the World’s Fastest Supercomputer
Japan has kicked off a project to build the AI Bridging Cloud (AIBC) computer by the end of next year—and is prepared to dish out 19.5 billion yen for the cause. With a 130 petaflop speed, the AIBC, should its development prove successful, would surpass China’s Sunway TaihuLight machine, which currently operates at 93 petaflops. (A petaflop is equal to one thousand trillion operations per second.)
“As far as we know, there is nothing out there that is as fast,” said Satoshi Sekiguchi, head of Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, which will oversee the machine’s development.
Japan’s government hopes the AIBC will help restore the country’s reputation in science and technology and prevent them from turning to U.S. companies (like Amazon or Google) for sources of supercomputing power.
France is Building a Human-Powered Gym Boat
Italian design and innovation firm, Carlo Ratti Associati, along with wellness manufacturing company TechnoGym and non-profit architecture group Terreform ONE, have initiated a project that will see the construction of a 20 meter long “fitness vessel.” The boat will sail along Paris’ Seine River, harnessing the energy produced during gym patrons’ workouts.
“The Paris navigating gym investigates the potential of harnessing human power,” explains engineer and architect Carlo Ratti, who also directs MIT’s Senseable City Lab. “It’s fascinating to see how the energy generated by a workout at the gym can actually help to propel a boat. It provides one with a tangible experience of what lies behind the often abstract notion of electric power.”
The boat’s design will accommodate 45 individuals, who can track their real-time energy expenditure via augmented-reality screens. The boat will also integrate a panoramic glass façade, providing patrons with an unprecedented Parisian view.
Filed Under: M2M (machine to machine)