Ex-SpaceX Engineers Create Self-Driving Trains To Aid Trucker Shortage

The Parallel Systems self-driving train prototype looks like its waiting to go for a walk.

By Owen Bellwood

It’s a tough time to be a trucker. If you aren’t caught for days alone on the road, then you’re left with few benefits and low wages. It’s no wonder, then, that the U.S. is currently facing a shortage of long-haul truckers. But now, one firm thinks its self-driving freight trains could be here to save the day. Whether or not it actually works, though, will remain to be seen.

In order to try to combat the shortage of truckers around the world, a group of ex-SpaceX engineers has founded Parallel Systems. The firm is currently developing fleets of small, autonomous trains that could transport freight across the US.

The company has raised $US49.55 ($69) million in funding to develop its swarm of miniature trains. The autonomous crafts travel in pairs to carry shipping containers across the country.

The company says it hopes the autonomous trains will be able to alleviate the strains places on long-haul truckers as its devices can transport large loads between cities or other transit hubs. Once at their final destinations, the loads can be transferred to trucks, where freight drivers will complete the last mile of the journey.

This way, the firm says truck drivers will be able to retain their jobs while working closer to home.

Continue reading… “Ex-SpaceX Engineers Create Self-Driving Trains To Aid Trucker Shortage”

Airbus’ Maritime Partner Launches Revolutionary Kite Tech Controlled by a Digital Twin

Airseas, the maritime project of Airbus, used its aeronautical expertise to develop a state-of-the-art sailing system for commercial ships, which combines the traditional principles of sailing with the most advanced autonomous technology. 

by Otilia Drăgan

Today’s shipping industry has the immense opportunity to leverage both the benefits of wind power as a source of clean energy and the benefits of the latest technology. In 2013, Vincent Bernatets from Airbus decided to implement the company’s expertise in the maritime sector. This is how Airseas was born, the company that created Seawing, a revolutionary system that combines automated flight control features from the aerospace industry with kite technology.

Airseas has big plans for Seawing, set to become the most competitive shipping propulsion system based on renewable energy. The startup hopes to implement it on 10% of the global fleet over the next decade.

Continue reading… “Airbus’ Maritime Partner Launches Revolutionary Kite Tech Controlled by a Digital Twin”

Chinese scientists want to add wings to bullet trains to make them even faster

Bullet trains in China can run as fast as 350 kilometres per hour and Chinese researchers want them to take the top speed of 450km/h.

HONG KONG: China wants even faster bullet trains, and a team of scientists in the southwest of the country have suggested a way to do it: add wings.

Their study found that adding five pairs of small wings on each train carriage would generate additional lift and reduce the weight of the train by nearly a third, taking the top speed to 450 kilometres per hour.

The research is part of a project launched by Beijing earlier this year named CR450, which aims to develop a new generation of high-speed trains that can travel at that speed.

China’s high-speed rail network is currently the fastest in the world – its existing bullet trains can run at 350km/h. The CR450 project aims to have trains that run nearly 30% faster, meaning it would take only about three hours to travel from Beijing to Shanghai, or just five hours from Beijing to Guangzhou.

Continue reading… “Chinese scientists want to add wings to bullet trains to make them even faster”

Tech It Out: What is the future of high-speed maglev?

By Dong Yi, Yang Xiao, Yang Zhao

China already possesses the world’s largest high-speed railway network, and it will only expand more ambitiously, according to the country’s new Five-Year Plan. But it’s not just the railroads that are extending. China may also get a major boost in the speed of its bullet trains. A prototype maglev train recently unveiled at Southwest Jiaotong University in Chengdu, Sichuan Province aims to set a new speed record for trains – the current record of 603 kilometers per hour is held by Japan’s SCMaglev. China’s answer to it is 620.

This maglev train deploys what’s known as “high-temperature superconductive” technology, or HTS. It takes advantage of two unique properties of high-temperature superconductors: the “Meissner effect” which allows a superconductor to completely repel the magnetic fields around it to achieve levitation, and “flux pinning,” which keeps the superconductor steady above its magnetic tracks, so it never falls off.

Unlike China’s existing high-speed railway technology and the country’s most iconic maglev line in Shanghai – both technologies which are largely imported, China’s new HTS maglev is 100 percent developed by its own top scientists. It took over 20 years for this technology to emerge from a university lab to become a real prototype.

Continue reading… “Tech It Out: What is the future of high-speed maglev?”


Helen Coffey

Deutsche Bahn is launching a hydrogen train

‘This is the only way for DB to be climate neutral in 2050,’ says board member

Deutsche Bahn (DB) has announced it will launch a hydrogen train and accompanying gas station by 2024, in a system set to save 330 tons of carbon emissions in one year.

The German rail company has said it will run a comprehensive year-long trial of the new system, which will replace a diesel engine running between Tübingen, Horb and Pforzheim in the southwest state of Baden-Württemberg.

DB is converting one of its maintenance workshops so that the hydrogen train can be serviced there, alongside developing a new type of filling station that means it will be just as quick to refuel as a diesel train, taking just 15 minutes.

Siemens Mobility is responsible for building the new train, while the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) is providing the funding.

The hydrogen train should initially be able to run for 600km before needing to be refuelled, roughly equivalent to the distance between London and Edinburgh. Its top speed will be 160km/h.


China built the first electric car designed exclusively for ride-hailing


The D1 is a partnership between Didi Chuxing and BYD

Two of China’s top companies have joined forces to design, develop, and build an electric car for the express purpose of ride-hailing.

The vehicle is an adorable green hatchback called the D1, and it was developed by Didi Chuxing, the top ride-hailing company in China that notoriously defeated Uber in 2016, and BYD, one of the leading electric vehicle manufacturers. The D1 will have a range of 418 km (260 miles) as judged by NEDC (New European Driving Cycle). They also explained some of the more interesting design touches that make this vehicle particularly well-suited for app-based ride-hailing.

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Smart concrete could pave the way for high-tech , cost-effective roads


 Every day, Americans travel on roads, bridges, and highways without considering the safety or reliability of these structures. Yet much of the transportation infrastructure in the US is outdated, deteriorating, and badly in need of repair.

Of the 614,387 bridges in the US, for example, 39 percent are older than their designed lifetimes, while nearly 10 percent are structurally deficient, meaning they could begin to break down faster or, worse, be vulnerable to catastrophic failure.

The cost to repair and improve nationwide transportation infrastructure ranges from nearly US$190 billion to almost $1 trillion. Repairing US infrastructure costs individual households, on average, about $3,400 every year. Traffic congestion alone is estimated to cost the average driver $1,400 in fuel and time spent commuting, a nationwide tally of more than $160 billion per year.

I am a professor in the Lyles School of Civil Engineering and the director of the Center for Intelligent Infrastructures at Purdue University. My co-author, Vishal Saravade, is part of my team at the Sustainable Materials and Renewable Technology (SMART) Lab. The SMART Lab researches and develops new technologies to make American infrastructure “intelligent,” safer, and more cost-effective. These new systems self-monitor the condition of roads and bridges quickly and accurately and can, sometimes, even repair themselves.

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Hyper loop achieves 1,000 KM/H speed in Korea, days after Virgin passenger test

South Korea hopes to launch first hyperloop network in 2024

A hyperloop prototype in South Korea has reached speeds over 1,000km/h, just days after a rival system performed the first successful passenger test using the technology.

The Korean Railroad Research Institute (Korail) announced on Wednesday that a “hyper-tube train” travelling through a vacuum hit a top speed of 1,019km/h (633mph).

The test took place on a scale model and is the first of its kind in the world, according to Business Korea. The previous top speed, also set by Korail, was 714km/h.

South Korea is hoping to launch a hyperloop network by 2024, cutting the journey time between Seoul and Busan from three hours to 30 minutes.

Continue reading… “Hyper loop achieves 1,000 KM/H speed in Korea, days after Virgin passenger test”


Lexus is addressing autonomous car anxiety with innovative designs


Lexus is reimagining the future of self-driving cars.

Although the future of autonomous cars is certainly exciting, much of what it will look like remains unknown. Will we still sit in the “driver’s” seat or will the interiors of new cars look more like a café? This is one of thquestions that Lexus is trying to answer.

The luxury carmaker partnered with two TED fellows to try and figure out what the future of self-driving vehicles will look like. Moreover, the project aims to lessen some fears about taking away the interactive part of driving.

Although true autonomous cars won’t be a reality for most consumers anytime soon, addressing these problems now will help make their adoption much smoother.

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How South Korea’s smart crossings are cutting road deaths


Crossings in South Korea alert drivers when people are approaching, and warn pedestrians when cars are nearby

The crossing has been preparing for you before you set foot on it. Radar and thermal cameras detect your approach and notify a central control system, which triggers rows of LED warning lights on either side of the walkway to alert approaching drivers to your presence. To keep you alert, the system sounds an alarm and projects a warning image on the ground in front of you. It also sounds an alert on your smartphone. As the driver comes within 30 metres, a blinking electronic sign notifies them of your crossing.

This pedestrian crossing is located in three locations across South Korea, designed by the Korea Institute of Civil Engineering and Building Technology (KICT). It aims to minimise road traffic accidents in response to rising pedestrian casualties, 52.9 per cent of which occur at crossings. Many of these are caused by people crossing while looking at their phones (South Korea has the world’s highest smartphone penetration rate, and some of the highest road fatality and injury rates among developed countries). “So, I came to think of a smart crossing system that recognises the urgency of pedestrian safety on the crosswalk,” Kim Jong-hoon, a senior researcher at KICT says.

Continue reading… “How South Korea’s smart crossings are cutting road deaths”


Autonomous pothole-repairing robots that can detect cracks and fix roads automatically could hit Britain’s streets by 2021


Artist’s impression of the autonomous road repair system, which looks part-tank, part road roller. The Robotiz3d vehicle should be seen on UK roads next year


Scientists are building autonomous repair robots that will use AI to identify and fix potholes in UK roads.

  • Liverpool spin-out Robotiz3d is planning to put its robots on UK streets in 2021
  • The weird vehicles look like a cross between a road roller and a heavy duty tank
  • They use AI to identify potholes and can deposit and flatten asphalt as a quick fix

The electric, self-driving bots – which are being built by a spin-out company from the University of Liverpool called Robotiz3d – can find small cracks in the road and cover them with asphalt.

Continue reading… “Autonomous pothole-repairing robots that can detect cracks and fix roads automatically could hit Britain’s streets by 2021”