Engineering and Technology Thread

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Re: Engineering and Technology Thread

Post by PeteC » Sun Jul 02, 2017 12:28 pm

^ Just FYI, it's working for me, I just tested it. It's the site I use for all the F1 photos/charts I post.
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Re: Engineering and Technology Thread

Post by Bluesky » Wed Sep 13, 2017 2:05 pm

Flying taxi startup Lilium nabs $90m investment boost
The German firm is developing a zero-emission, 300km/h flying taxi that can carry up to five people

On-demand air taxis just got one step closer to becoming a reality. Lilium, the German startup whose flying taxis can go from vertical takeoff to horizontal flight, has announced $90m (£69.59m) in funding, a big leap from the $10m it had already raised from London VC Atomico and Freigeist. The latest round of funding was raised by Tencent, LGT, Atomico and Obvious Ventures.

Lilium remains tight-lipped on timelines for the commercial launch of its flying taxi, but chief operating officer Remo Gerber says the money will let the firm focus all its “time and efforts on a five-seater version of the jet and build a prototype for the certification process”.

The company was founded two years ago. What seemed like a fantastical idea at the time – launching a fleet of on-demand, 300km/h, zero-emission flying cabs into the skies – now feels almost realistic.

Transport 20 Apr 2017
Lilium has already been working with regulators to ease the path for aviation certification. “We’re not waiting for the very last day to find out if we passed or failed,” Gerber says. “Regulators work with you very closely,” he adds, explaining that many elements of the novel jet taxi design might speed up regulatory approval. For instance, the electric, carbon fibre vehicle has fewer parts than an ordinary aircraft, so there are fewer parts to certify.

“If you look at the aircraft, there is no tail rudder,” Gerber says. This is thanks to its three electric engines, which in turn have just one moving part each. There are also 12 identical flaps that are used to exact direction and stability. “You are not looking at a variety of different flaps on parts of a wing; you have several components that are repeated,” Gerber says. Of course, he adds, there are no shortcuts in aviation. “It’s a strict process, and rightly so.”

Earlier this year the company completed a two-seater test-launch, confounding those who feel its flying taxi dreams remain some way off. “This is a hardcore engineering effort and we need the very best engineers out there," Gerber says. "There are still some very interesting engineering challenges to be solved; on the other hand, once you have a proof of concept the rest takes off from a physics perspective. We have already shown it is possible. The challenges where physics is involved don’t change as such – they just get bigger.”

Those challenges, though significant, would deliver something impressive: a zero emission, 300km/h vehicle (a 19km trip from Manhattan to JFK Airport could take five minutes, the company claims) that cuts out congestion and plugs frustrating holes in regional and national infrastructure – for the cost of land travel. Lilium plans to keep the cost down through ride sharing and fuel efficiency. Thanks to a lack of air traffic, Lilium claims it would also be able to complete four or five journeys in the same time it would take a regular cab to complete one.

The issue of space and charging infrastructure also isn’t insurmountable, according to Gerber. “It could land on a shopping mall, such as Westfield in Shepherd’s Bush or east London; or the top deck of a car park could become a landing deck. The space you need isn’t actually that huge so it’s entirely possible.”

Gerber envisions a distributed network of London ports. One located at City Airport or the Isle of Dogs would allow people to pick up on the many connections in those areas to continue their journey. Lilium doesn’t see itself as competing with hubs such as City, but complementing them. It could, for instance, help plug gaps in infrastructure left by HS2, which is only connecting major hubs.

Before any of that, Lilium will have to convince the public to hop aboard its eerily quiet, affordable urban jets. “It’s too early to have that conversation,” Gerber says. “At this point there are two types of people. Those that say, ‘Mmm... that’s interesting, but I’d like a few people to do it before me’. And others that jump on it. It will have to go through commercial aircraft certification – that’s the same regulator that tells you it’s safe to fly with British Airways. From our side, there’s a lot more work to be done." ... ng-atomico

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Re: Engineering and Technology Thread

Post by Bluesky » Thu Feb 08, 2018 9:46 am

World's first passenger drone makes maiden flight in China
12:53pm Feb 8, 2018

[youtube] ... 3D/youtube]
The world’s first passenger drone, capable of speeds up to 100kms/h, has made its first public flight in China.

The electric-powered vehicle made by Chinese tech manufacturer EHang Inc can carry a single passenger weighing up to 100 kilograms.

Known as EHang184, it is operated by an automated flight system, leaving the passenger to simply fasten their safety belt and enjoy the ride, reports euronews.

On Tuesday, it was shown off to the world in a test flight over the southern city of Guangzhou.

The drone can fly for 23 minutes and reach speeds of 100kms/h.

"None of the traditional flying vehicles can achieve the goal of fully autonomous flying, so they are still far away from common people. But our successful flight today means the scenes that we used to only see in sci-fi movies are now very close to common people," said Hu Huazhi, CEO of EHang, Inc.

The company says the drone has the potential to be used in emergency rescues, hospital transfers and tourism.
Last year, EHang and Dubai began talks on developing self-flying taxis. ... light-test
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Re: Engineering and Technology Thread

Post by Nereus » Tue Feb 20, 2018 11:55 am

Go behind the wheel of Fortescue Metals Group’s driverless trucks at its Solomon mine site ... b88750957z

There’s a variety of jobs and titles at Fortescue Metals Group’s Solomon iron ore mine site in the Pilbara — but truck driver isn’t among them.

“Mine controllers” sitting behind computer screens with complex maps and signals are running the mine’s fleet of 56 autonomous trucks across three main pits.

Each 160-tonne truck carries 240t of iron ore — that's 400t of metal moving across the mine site at 60km/h.
Since the first driverless trucks were introduced to the mine in 2013, the machines have moved more than half a billion tonnes.

But safety remains paramount. The trucks have onboard sensors on the front that allows it to see what’s in front of it. If obstacles approach — vehicles, people, birds — they will slow down and come to a complete stop.

“(A controller’s) intervention into the system is by exception only, so when a truck stops it's really up to them to troubleshoot why that truck has stopped, sort the issue out and allow the truck to proceed on its way,” says Jeelan Amin, FMG’s autonomous haulage systems implementation project manager.

“When we have wet weather or we’ve had a bit of rain we can apply global speed limits or traction control limits on the trucks but generally the trucks will decide how fast they want to take roads and corners themselves.”

And it’s not just the trucks going full auto. Huge drilling machines at Solomon used to be individually operated but as of late last year they too are now driverless, with two drill controllers monitoring three rigs each using remote cameras and a wall of screens.

When they need to manually control one of the drills, they do it using a standard xbox controller.
But before you get too worried about computers and robots taking over the workforce, Fortescue insists it has not slashed staff.

FMG deputy chief executive Julie Shuttleworth says the switch has not left anyone out of a job.
“There's absolutely been no redundancies through that whole process,” she said. “We’ve planned this well in advance, we've made sure that all our people have been either upskilled, relocated to other operations, had opportunities for new jobs.”

Mr Amin said the driverless fleet and new drill rigs had lead to huge benefits.
“We're about 30 per cent more productive than a manned fleet, so we’re moving the same amount of material with less trucks than we typically would with a manned operation,” he said.

With the Solomon success, the autonomous fleet will soon expand to the Christmas Creek and Cloudbreak mines.
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Re: Engineering and Technology Thread

Post by RCer » Tue Feb 20, 2018 12:31 pm

As a person that drove those giant trucks when I graduated high school, this sucks. Driving something as big as a house is a huge kick for a young person.

But, as long as nobody loses a job, it's a great idea.

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Re: Engineering and Technology Thread

Post by Nereus » Fri Feb 23, 2018 11:16 am

As with the following, modern cars are also subject to this, although there does appear to be more pirate software available for road vehicles:
Tractor-hacking farmers in the US fight for right to repair under equality law ... rticleLink

The days of home tractor repair are coming to an end with machinery technology and tightening intellectual property restrictions meaning farmers are forced to pay big bucks to fix their machinery.

When Nebraska farmer Tom Schwarz bought a tractor he did not realise he would be bound to his John Deere dealer who holds onto intellectual property rights to fix it.

"When you paid the money for a tractor, you didn't actually buy the tractor … because all of the intellectual property is still theirs," Mr Schwartz told tech journalist Jason Koebler in a documentary released earlier this month.
"You just buy the right to use it … for life."

Farmers and independent machinery repairers across the United States are now campaigning for the right to fix their own machinery.

Mr Schwartz had always bought second-hand parts to keep his machinery going, but is now forced to call a dealer because of its software.

"We will put components on tractors. As farmers we don't like to spend a lot of money so we buy used components if we can," he said.
"It used to be we'd mount them ourselves and we'd utilise the tractor from that point on.

"Now we can't get the component and the tractor to talk to each other. So you literally have to bring Deere out to do all this or your tractor is not going to operate."

Farmers hacking their own tractors
In Nebraska, a "fair repair" law is being proposed to allow farmers to repair their own tractor.
If successful, the Right to Repair Act would make it mandatory for companies to disclose their diagnostic software and sell parts.

Journalist Jason Koebler told the ABC that farmers are using software downloaded from Ukraine to avoid the onerous restrictions.

"Farmers are hacking their own tractors. In places like Ukraine and Eastern Europe the software is sold to farmers without the encryption they have in other countries like the United States," he said.

"So what people in Ukraine are doing is uploading these versions of the software for free online, and people in Nebraska are pirating it and hacking their tractors with it.

"They're essentially able to have access to the same technology the John Deere dealerships have in order to fix their things."

The risk for these farmers is that they will break their warranty.
John Deere declined the ABC's interview request but provided this statement:

"John Deere recommends against unauthorised modification of the embedded software code.
The embedded software code is designed and tested to ensure a positive and safe experience for customers.
Manufacturers have invested in developing embedded software code to ensure the equipment operates safely and accurately.
Allowing untrained individuals to modify equipment software may result in equipment that no longer complies with industry and safety standards, or environmental regulations."

Australian farmers 'don't get a choice'

Mr Koebler said the fair repair issue extends beyond machinery companies, with firms like Apple and Microsoft taking interest in the Nebraska case.
"It's also your iPhone. Apple doesn't sell parts to your iPhone," he said.

"Companies have been moving towards this model where they sell you something and you end up having to go to a manufacturer for service on that."

It is already happening to your car in Australia. ... wn/8792258

Australian farmers, who have always fixed their own machinery, are keeping a close eye on the US case.

Western Australia farmer Paul Green said Australia might be in even greater need for a "right to repair" movement than the US.
"Australia doesn't get a choice in the types of engines we get. We just get what the Americans and the Europeans build because the Australian market is just too small," Mr Green said.
"If you buy a tractor, you buy a tractor and it's yours. And the big companies are now trying to say if you buy a tractor, it's not yours."

"You have the right to use their tractor and that's the issue I think."
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