Daimler Trucks has just retro-fitted its self-driving system known as the Highway Pilot to a Mercedes-Benz eighteen-wheeler lorry and, as of late, has been driving it down a stretch of the German Autobahn. This has now become the latest milestone in the development of self-driving vehicles with it marking the very first time a self-driving production truck has been evaluated for its self-driving capabilities on a public highway. As with self-driving cars, Daimler says improvements to motorist safety is a convincing reason to also develop the technology for the road-shipping industry. By allowing self-driving systems to aid the lorry driver on any long-haul trips, Daimler claims it can help prevent operators from falling asleep at the wheel as well as limit the number of driver errors. In addition, when it comes to switching gears for speeding up or slowing down, the autonomous system can be more economical with fuel consumption reducing the carbon footprint of the vehicle in the process. The device uses both a short-range radar that can scan up to 70 metres ahead of the vehicle over a 130-degree arc, and a long-range radar that allows the vehicle to ‘see’ up to 250 metres ahead of it in a smaller 18-degree arc. The radars also operate in combination with Active Cruise Control, Active Brake Assist, as well as ‘steering’ cameras that keep track of roadway markings. However, as of yet, Highway Pilot is not yet advanced enough to allow drivers to completely relax on their journey as the operator still needs to be ready to take control of the vehicle in unexpected situations. So, while self-driving trucks still seems a long way off into the future, the chance to assess the technology in real-world situations will certainly help in bringing it ever closer.
A new company based in San Francisco has combined a computer, a home security system, and a personal assistant into a single device called Angee. The unit can be managed remotely and is able to send out alerts to owner’s smartphones, and features an HD video camera for both day and night use. Once set up, Angee gets to know the habits of family members, activating and deactivating as appropriate. In addition, its video camera revolves around its axis to provide full 360-degree surveillance of the area it is located in, as well as using several passive infrared motion-sensing tags. These tags are small discs that can be attached to doors and windows anywhere in the home, providing complete surveillance coverage. Angee can also be untethered from its power supply as it contains an integrated rechargeable battery which keeps it operating for another eight hrs without external power – also useful in the event of a power cut. Angee identifies unusual events using a variety of parameters, including motion, access to the home, alterations in background sound, and voice recognition. The device also keeps track of family members in the home via their Bluetooth signal being emitted by their cell phones and by their voices. If Angee senses troublesome activity when homeowners are away, an alert is sent out through WIFI and the internet followed by video streaming from the device. It doesn’t stop there, with Angee including other neat features for example, if rain is forecast, Angee notifies house members to close the windows. Now all we need it to do is actually close the windows itself…maybe a future iteration!
A new Kickstarter project has recently been launched for the Nipi Cooler, a cold store cooler with a twist. The Nipi Cooler has 47 litres of cooling space, which can fit up to 70 tins of your favorite beverage, but additionally it also has 1,000 lumens worth of interior and exterior LED lighting. Not only that but the Nipi Cooler also comes with its very own photovoltaic panels, although oddly these aren’t employed for chilling process. Instead the contents of the Nipi Cooler are maintained at low temperatures using a double-insulated cover and extra-thickness walls. The photovoltaic panels supply enough peak energy to power the LED lights as well as several digital gadgets, such as smartphones or stereo speakers. The solar panels can be positioned on the cooler’s external lid or installed adjacent to the Nipi Cooler. It is also possible to attach more panels to boost power output. Excess energy generated is stored in a 14,000 mAh lithium battery, with a 2nd battery available as an optional extra. There are 2 USB interfaces on the cooler’s exterior for charging gadgets and a further 2 ports within its dry lockable storage space designed for storage of valuables. A full battery can charge a cell phone seven times before becoming depleted itself, and it take no more than an hour to fill a cell phone when also using the solar panel. To top it all off, the Nipi Cooler also sports cup holders, cutting board and its extra-large wheels for off-road use. Looks like just what one needs for the next BBQ party!