Tags Posts tagged with "tech announcements"

tech announcements

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technology_lincoln

On Demand Driver Technology? Lincoln Chauffeur Service Will Make You Feel Like A VIP

Automobile company, Lincoln, is testing a new service for owners of its vehicles that supply a driver on demand technology. The service is like an upscale version of Uber’s technology, in which you supply the car, and Lincoln supplies a professional driver. This driver is actually a Lincoln employee, not a spot contractor, and will drive you around and return your car to your home, basically make you feel like a VIP.

technology

The service will launch first in Miami and will let Lincoln owners order up a chauffeur via a smartphone app. The chauffeur will not only be able to drive you around, but will also return your car to your home in case others in the household need to use it, will fill it up if so required, and can even run light errands like picking up some groceries. Costs, as you might expect, are not cheap. During the pilot program, Lincoln Chauffeur will run around $30 per hour, which is actually not terrible compared to Uber until you remember you have to supply the car as well. On the plus side for Lincoln owners, they will get eight hours free of Chauffeur service included in the purchase price of their vehicle.

This is only a limited test at the moment, but Lincoln reported that it would like to expand the service to San Diego next, and then additional markets after that. It is likely a decent challenge to scale, since Lincoln’s actually employing the drivers it is using. Lincoln Chauffeur may be a bit of a departure from other mobility service offerings automakers are exploring, which include on-demand vehicle rentals and even white glove delivery of said cars to a renter’s door, but it still sounds like an interesting way to add value while driving new revenue sources in the luxury segment.

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electric vehicle

Electric Vehicles Go To Two Wheels

What To Expect With A Zero Motorcycles’ Electric Vehicles, I mean, Motorcycles.

With growing popularity, electric vehicles have started taking over. Some of the most popular brands on American roads are: Bolt, Prius, Proterra, and Tesla. It is rare to see or hear of a fully electric or hybrid motorcycle. Harley and Honda are two of the more popular brands of motor bikes. Their customers have expressed interest in the greener approach to riding but not many startups have been successful. Zero Motorcycles, Lightning Motorcycle, and Alta Motors are some US Companies still in the game.

electric vehicles

Zero Motorcycles CTO, Abe Askenazi, has been in the motorcycle industry for almost twenty years. He said right now a lot of Zero Motorcycles’ customers buy the company’s EV bikes alongside market-leading V-twins and V-4s. To him, that indicates Zero’s bikes perform at the same or better levels as riders’ long-held favorites. He continued, electric bikes are quiet, so riders can hear what’s happening around them, and won’t disturb the peace, which their neighbors appreciate. That quietness is one reason police departments buy Zero Motorcycles for their fleets. They can ride at any hour, and approach suspects stealthily if they drive electric.

Zero’s products range from lightweight “hot rods” to off-road models that cost anywhere from about $8,500 to $16,000. Some of the new bikes are promising 200 miles per charge, which is a significant improvement from past models. The motorcycles’ easy to read instruments, speed control, and acceleration are some of Zero’s customers’ favorite qualities.

Askenazi stated, “Optimization of chemistry has gotten us here. The beautiful thing is that batteries are plug-and-play. When that battery comes that will give you 1,000 miles, we’ll be able to use it. Where the industry is going though is not so much a bigger battery to go further between charges, but faster charging so you can go grocery shopping, plug it in, come back and then you’re ready to go again.”

The CTO said that batteries will eventually weigh less and take up less space on the e-bikes. This will allow more space for cargo and other components. Askenazi stated, “You gain a lot of practicality with this bike.” He believes over time there will be many improvements with lighter weight and stronger materials.

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technology_ride_sharing

How Will Autonomous Vehicle Sharing Technology Affect Cities?

New research from Arcadis, HR&A Advisors and Sam Schwartz Consulting offers advice for city planners who are considering a future that includes autonomous vehicle technology, or AVs. McKinsey (who was not part of this particular study) says that by 2030, autonomous vehicles will account for 15% of auto sales worldwide. The study released recently, “Driverless Future: A Policy Roadmap for City Leaders,” estimates that nearly 8 million people in its three sample cities will choose an AV over a traditional vehicle in the next 15 to 20 years. Those three sample cities were Los Angeles, Dallas, and New York and were selected for the extent of their of density, walkability, and usage of public transportation.

technology ride sharing

The research compared the cost of car ownership to speculated AV ridesharing and AV ridesourcing, and determined when people in those cities were likely to make the move from commuting in their own car to hailing a self-driving car. However, the study’s authors also point out that in order for AV to work, it has to work for everyone. They suggest things like using open data and universal apps so riders can compare prices, travel times, and environmental impact across modes of transportation, and pay using one app. To that extent, the authors also remind cities to keep in mind that not everyone has equal access to technology. People who do not have cell phones or bank accounts need to be able to access the transportation network, including autonomous rideshare or ridesource vehicles, through Dial-a-Ride and smartcard payment options.

It is also worth taking in mind now, as this kind of technology and service is growing worldwide, how to fund accessible services. For example, the study notes that in New York City, there is a 30-cent fee per taxi ride that supports the city’s expansion of wheelchair-accessible transportation options. Ridesourcing services like Uber and Lyft don’t pay that fee. There are potential drawbacks to having fleets of AVs wandering city streets, and the study is aware of these concerns. Mass adoption of AVs could encourage sprawl and increase the number of miles cars travel, and the system could develop in a way that leaves behind anyone without a cell phone and a checking account. AVs also could decrease public transit revenues, which could affect public transportation.

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    technology nasa

    App Technology Allows Users To View Landscapes From Space

    The global imaging technology company that acquired Google’s Terra Bella satellite imaging business recently, Planet, is introducing a new tool called Planet Explorer Beta that permits its users to view how its image captures of Earth from space change over time. It is available to the public without a login, which means almost anyone can see what a particular spot on the planet looked like over a yearly or monthly period.

    technology nasa

    Will Marshall, Planet co-founder and CEO, describes in a blog post that the company has noticed that, as it captures images of the same locations over time, almost all places show visible signs of transformation. Planet’s satellite network captures a lot more imagery than has typically been available, and on a more frequent basis. It can collect a new photo of every piece of land on Earth on a daily basis, via its network of almost 150 orbital satellites. It proves things transform almost indefinitely all over the planet.

    There is clearly a business focus with Planet’s choice to reveal Explore Beta publicly with no login required. Use of the resulting images is limited to non-commercial purposes, and Planet anticipates this will drive free account sign-ups, which unlock access to not only yearly and monthly change imagery, but also daily comparisons. These gimmicks are likely to convert at least some users into paid subscribers, which permits them to use the available data for commercial use.

    However, Planet also says it believes imagery of the Earth should be freely accessible to all, including NGOs, individuals, and small companies, rather than exclusive province of big corporations and government agencies. For the everyday user, this is a great modern way to pass some time looking at truly fascinating satellite images, and getting some new perspective on the all-too inevitable passage of time.

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    3d printing technology

    3D Printing Technology Can Print Your Pizza

    BeeHex, a technology startup company designing a 3D food printer, has raised $1 million in seed funding to debut its first product, a pizza printer called the Chef 3D. Originally, the company wanted to create a printer that would have the capability to make an array of foods for astronauts on long missions in outer space. However, the company’s cofounders: Anjan Contractor, Chintan Kanuga, Jordan French, and Ben Feltner, have been adjusting their original concept printer technology for a commercial market that is ready on Earth today. The printers use pneumatic systems, rather than conventional additive manufacturing technologies, to move around ingredients.

    3d printing technology

    Long-term, French said, BeeHex wishes to design a network of printers that are able to create snacks or meals on-the-spot, tailored to the consumers’ needs. Customers would eventually be able to choose their food through an app, or the BeeHex printers could make food that correlates to their health needs, taking into consideration information transmitted from internet connected medical devices or fitness-related wearables. BeeHex CEO and cofounder Anjan Contractor says the startup plans a soft debut, working with select pilot consumers in the food business in 2017. The company moved its research and development facilities to Ohio recently, a region that is home to some 170 food and beverage manufacturers

    “Businesses want to provide food personalization, and they don’t want to have to spend a lot on training new employees to offer this,” contractor said. A machine like BeeHex’s 3D Chef would let businesses offer fresh pizzas that are shaped like a cartoon character for kids, for example, or that are gluten-free for celiac customers, without requiring cooks to learn specialized skills. Investor Jim Grote said BeeHex could be a long-term profitable business just creating 3-D printing solutions for high-volume pizza restaurants, especially major chains like Papa John’s, Pizza Hut, or Dominos. According to market research firm Packaged Facts, the pizza restaurant industry pulls in around $43 billion in annual sales worldwide.

    0 11
    technology

    Nokia’s 17 Year Old 3310 Took Center Stage At MWC

    Recent Press conferences from LG, Motorola, Samsung, and Sony confirmed all attendees seemed to care about at Mobile World Congress was a rebooted, 17 year old device. A candy bar feature phone whose main selling point is its ability to play Snake, surpassing BlackBerry’s KeyOne smartphone. Feature phones never disappeared. You can still purchase them inexpensively. Yet, HMD’s Nokia 3310 seems to have gathered more excitement at the show than any new forerunner, including LG’s G6.

    LG noted during its press conference that the future of mobile innovation will be about usability than specs, just before talking up its fancy new aspect ratio. LG was right, the smartphone battle has too often been waged as a war of specs, but the company’s execution was off. One decade after the iPhone transformed the mobile industry, consumers have grown tired of a war over incremental updates like display resolutions and megapixels. After ten years of hard fought redundancy, what is conceivably the most out-of-date phone of the show feels like a breath of fresh air.

    You can call it smartphone fatigue if you’d like. The churn of the yearly upgrade cycles and the flood of me-too handsets seems to have hit a breaking point, so much so that the solid gimmick of reviving a feature phone nearly old enough to vote in the US overshadowed a handful of the year’s biggest smartphone announcements. We would like to recommend that the sentiment is symptomatic of some larger trend to return to simpler technological times, that the 3310 in the beginning of a nostalgia movement among smartphone buyers akin the vinyl movement of the last several years. However, the only larger trend the 3310 is ominous of is our need of a break from the seemingly endless parade of minor smartphone upgrades.

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    space technology

    Space Debris Tracking Technology Is LeoLabs’ Mission

    Low-Earth orbit is an elite contender for huge commercial growth, but it is also a space where the risk of explosions happening from debris impact is a concern for businesses targeting the technology opportunity. That is the issue LeoLabs focuses on, a startup spun out of SRI International to find, map, and help dodge collisions with debris floating in low-Earth orbit (LEO).

    space technology

    LeoLabs is announcing $4 million in investment from SRI International, Airbus Ventures, Horizons Ventures, and is adding the Midland Space Radar facility in Midland, Texas to its organization of ground-based radar monitoring facilities, which help it track the objects it’s mapping. The problem LeoLabs is hoping to solve is helping the growing number of ventures working with cubsats and smallsat networks, as well as emerging ventures looking to put people into low-Earth orbit for short tourist flights.

    Evading collisions in LEO is a serious concern because it is already a crowded region of space. Collisions in LEO stand to amplify the problem. Objects crashing into one another results in more debris and more dangerous navigation of LEO space overall. There are already some choices for keeping clear of other objects in LEO. The United States Air Force maintains a public catalog that will alert those registered to use it about potential crashes. The company believes more advanced tools are needed.

    LeoLabs’ solution has unique abilities including accuracy to within 100 meters, along with verification mechanisms: data offered up on a predefined schedule, tracking of each piece of debris and object in LEO multiple times per day, the ability to track up to 250,000 new objects that aren’t tracked by public monitoring systems today, and an API so that customers can use the info with their own systems via tight integration. CEO Dan Ceperley stated, “We provide raw data. Plus, we provide services built on top of this data to address specific customer needs, such as avoiding collisions. Finally, we are heavily investing in the data services platform that will enable third-parties to innovate on top of the data.”

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    autonomous technology trucking

    Will Semi-Truck Autonomous Technology Soon Take Over The Roads?

    Autonomous trucking startup Embark is unveiling its technology for the first time, showing off a competitor for Uber’s Otto that uses neural networks and deep learning to teach trucks how to drive on their own through their own processes of trial and error and practice. Embark’s trucks are approved to test on Nevada roads. The company’s technology is capable of handling potential obstacles like a slow car occupying the lane in front, and pass on undivided highways. According to Embark co-founder and CEO Alex Rodrigues, it can handle fog, darkness, and glare having learned to do so on its own.
    For the time being, the technology Embark has created is not designed to replace human drivers altogether.

    autonomous technology trucking

    Rather, its intentions are to take over control on long stretches of relatively boring and straightforward driving, while also passing control to human drivers when it enters complex driving scenarios like those found in cities. The company’s foundation was based on the fact that there’s presently a truck driver shortage, and its technology can help add to the number of routes a human driver can handle by decreasing their actual time spent actively driving. Even though driving is, across categories, a huge employment category in the country, it is also true that most overland freight providers are also looking to add to their organization of capable drivers.

    Rodrigues’ team at Embark includes SpaceX alumni, as well as people from Audi’s autonomous team. The startup also has funding from Maven Ventures, which also backed Cruise, the self-driving company GM acquired for $1 billion to help jump-start its own autonomous vehicle development efforts. There’s no specific schedule of deployment of the autonomous truck, but the company is ramping its engineering hiring aggressively and hopes also to build out its group of testing vehicles for its Nevada trials. With Uber’s Otto facing strong legal challenges from Alphabet’s Waymo, now might be exactly the right time for a new self-drive trucking startup to roll out.

    satellite

    Smaller Satellite Company Gives Boeing A Run For Their Money

    According to Wall Street Journal, Boeing is in the process of changing the way a satellite is constructed, with an eye toward automating a lot of the process. This will make it more simple to boost production while also developing overall efficiency. The efforts of the company reflect the basic transformation of the private space industry, driven by pressure put on incumbents by new entrants with a more nimble approach to getting the job done.

    satellite

    The rarefied atmosphere housed by private contractors has not been very crowded, and has proven a place for the companies that do exist to make a lot of money out of lucrative government contract that have large built-in margins. However, pressure from smaller players like SpaceX, which drastically undercuts Boeing on the cost of rocket launches, has meant the legacy operators need to rethink how they conduct business. Boeing’s satellite business lead Paul Rusnock told the Wall Street Journal that his company is now taking measures like putting 3D printing to use wherever possible, and sampling the designs of the satellites so they require fewer moving parts in order to minimize error rates and speed up production.

    Satellites have been especially dependent on specialized, one-off parts that cost a lot to produce. Use of more standard, cross-purpose and modular satellite components is driving new efficiencies in production. The Wall Street Journal also states that there is a lot that can be done with simulated testing, and self-check protocols run by satellite themselves that replace previous expensive efforts to achieve the same results. With upstart providers offering cost of construction for new satellites that run at roughly 1/100th the price of what Boeing has commonly charged, and production cycles that can design new ones in a small fraction of the time, it is a likely necessity more than anything else that has pushed Boeing to rethink how it approaches the industry.

    0 18
    technology

    VR & AR Technology to Help Vision Impaired

    You don’t need perfect vision for virtual reality technology, however it helps. Otherwise, you’re going to have issues with accommodating glasses, ocular distances maxing out, eye tracking not working, to name just a few. Researchers from Stanford want to simplify things for people with vision problems while using VR. Common conditions like farsightedness and nearsightedness affect millions of people. Combined with how VR presents depth of field and other effects, this leads to optical troubles and inconsistencies that can cause headaches and nausea.

    technology

    VR headsets often allow for adjusting things like the distance from your eye to the screen and how far apart your eyes are. However, for many, it’s not enough. Stanford’s Gordon Wetzstein said, “Every person needs a different optical mode to get the best possible experience in VR.” His team’s research describes a set of mechanisms that together comprise what they call an adaptive focus display. One idea uses a liquid lens, the shape of which can be adjusted for certain circumstances; like when the focus of the game is on an object that the viewer normally would not be able to focus on. The screen itself could also be moved in order to better fit the optical requirements of someone with a given affliction.

    Wetzstein stated, “The technology we propose is perfectly compatible with existing head mounted displays. However, one also needs eye tracking for this to work properly. Eye tracking is a technology that everyone in the industry is working on and we expect eye trackers to be part of the next wave of [head-mounted displays]. Thus, our gaze-contingent focus displays would be directly compatible with those.” In the paper, both commercial and built-from-scratch headsets are used to prototype various methods of adjusting optical qualities of the displays. The team tested these with 173 participants at last year’s SIGGRAPH conference. The news release reports an “improved viewing experiences across a wide range of vision characteristics.”

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