Tuesday, March 14, 2023

With AI your next job interview could take place in virtual reality

Imagine a job interview conducted in virtual reality using artificial intelligence
How would you like to have a job interview conducted in virtual reality by a computer?
Going for a job interview is the stuff of nightmares for many people, while for others it is a chance to shine. Either way you are typically still interviewed by other human beings, either after walking into a scary office with one or more bosses sitting behind a desk, or via an equally nerve-wracking Zoom call. BBC | Read more >>

Sunday, October 2, 2022

Luxury supercars rolling out hybrids, charting full electrification

Ferrari is introducing its first all-electric vehicle in 2025 with a unique design, enhanced aerodynamics, and a patented sound to mimic the engine roar.
As if nothing is sacred in the emerging electrification of transportation, several luxury supercars have hybrid and all-electric plans, including Ferrari, Aston Martin, McLaren, Bentley Motors, and Automobili Pininfarina.

Ferrari is introducing its first all-electric vehicle in 2025 with a unique design, enhanced aerodynamics, and a patented sound to mimic the engine roar.

This Italian manufacturer with the Prancing Horse logo has been around since 1947 and is known around the world for its luxury sport cars that have been manufactured in Maranello, Italy from day one.

For guidance on their first fully electric vehicle, Ferrari choose Benedetto Vigna, an outsider from the semiconductor industry, as their new Chief Executive Officer. The Italian native has over 26 years of experience and knows the role of chips in the automotive sector and especially in electric vehicles.

The new Ferrari EV will not be totally self-driving and I can’t imagine why anyone would want an autonomous Ferrari that would take away the experience of shifting through the gears while enjoying the distinctive roar of the engine.


Although Ferrari is moving forward with their new electrification project, this is not their first rodeo with electric vehicles, as they have been involved with hybrid technology in past years. Their first hybrid was the LaFerrari in 2013, which combined an electric motor with a classic V12 internal combustion engine.

It was followed by the LaFerrari Aperta convertible in 2016, which was deemed as a special version of the 2013 LaFerrari by offering a removable roof. The LaFerrari hybrid was in the $1.5M range and the Aperta required a fat wallet at around $2M.

In later years, the Ferrari SF90 Stradale hybrid, introduced in 2019, was packing a 3.9-liter V8 and three electric motors. In a pinch, the SF90 could be driven for up to around 15 miles in electric mode. If you just had to have a convertible, the SF90 Spider was available for first-class open-air motoring.


Two years later, the Ferrari 296 GTB joined the hybrid’s stable with a high-performance version born to cruise at around 205 mph.

With the stage set during the past several years of using traditional ICE combined with hybrid technology, their fully-electric project might take some design cues from the upcoming 2023 Purosangue, which will be the company’s first SUV in 75 years of existence. This will be a four-door, four-seater with four-wheel drive and is likely to have four electric motors along with multiple battery packs.

Aston Martin is developing the Valhalla supercar as a plug-in hybrid and will shift into their first electric vehicle by 2025.
Among the other luxury supercar brands, Aston Martin is developing the Valhalla supercar as a plug-in hybrid and will shift into their first electric vehicle by 2025. The mid-engine V8 and 150kWh/400V electric powertrain with just a smidgen under 1,000 horsepower will have an impressive speed of 0-62 mph in a mere 2.5 seconds, which was fast enough for 007 in the Bond 25 movie.
Bugatti is holding off on their electrification plans for now, as nothing is planned for this decade. But I’m hearing of a new partnership where Bugatti's electrification plans are going to be under the watchful engineering of the Porsche and Rimac brands, who also have their own electric projects on the drawing boards. So maybe, just maybe, the next Bugatti hypercar will at least be a hybrid. The Bugatti/Rimac partnership might have something to announce any day now and a mention of the new Bugatti Bollide concept would signal a step toward electrification.

The almighty Lamborghini will test the waters with a hybrid model and follow with an electric car further down the road in this decade, which might be the  the Terzo Millennio
The almighty Lamborghini will test the waters with a hybrid model and follow with an electric car further down the road in this decade. In the meantime, you can start dreaming about the Terzo Millennio, which the company is pitching as a super sports car with efficiency, innovation, and something special called a supercapacitor.

McLaren Automotive has had a Formula 1 racing heritage since around 1963, and offers up the Speedtail Hyper GT as a hybrid that will likely pave the way for future electrification.
If raw speed is your fancy, McLaren Automotive has had a Formula 1 racing heritage since around 1963, and offers up the Speedtail Hyper GT as a hybrid that will likely pave the way for future electrification. With a top speed of 250 mph, the Speedtail is expected is to be revealed in late October.

And let’s not forget about Bentley Motors, the epitome of luxury who has been around 1919 showcasing their extraordinary cars. As for electrification, Bentley offers up the Bentayga S SUV and the Flying Spur Mulliner as plug-in hybrids alongside their conventional V6, V8, and W12 internal combustion engines. If all goes well, we may see an electrified Bentley around 2025 and I wouldn’t mind being in line for an all-electric Flying Spur Speed or Continental GT S.

As for a pure electric supercar the team at Automobili Pininfarina have the Battista, which is referred to as a hypercar instead of a supercar.
As for a pure electric supercar the team at Automobili Pininfarina have the Battista, which is referred to as a hypercar instead of a supercar and was first drooled over at the Geneva Motor Show in 2019. It is being described as “Infusing twice the power of a Formula 1 racing car and is the most powerful Italian sports car ever.” This claim is backed up by a 120kWh battery with four motors generating close to 1,900 horsepower that will take you from 0-60 mph in two seconds and has a range within a stone’s throw of 300 miles. The speed engineers are saying not even an ICE can produce this kind of extreme performance.

As these supercars and hypercars speed into the electrification revolution, I don't think horsepower and overall performance will be an issue. But the sound of a superbly tuned ICE will certainly be missed unless the engineers can also replicate the distinctive engine roar.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Flying car technology gets a nod in Slovakia for mass production

A flying car developed in Slovakia by BMW has been issued the official “Certificate of Airworthiness” and is one step closer to mass production after undergoing around 70 hours of extensive certification testing.

The AirCar’s development included over 100,000 hours of protypes and design testing, which resulted in its first inter-city flight in early 2021. It is a dual -mode model and is powered by at 1.6L BMW engine that demonstrated successful takeoffs and landings, along with stability while in the aircraft mode. The engineering feats accomplished in the development of the AirCar include the automated transition from a road vehicle to an air vehicle, which required the automated deployment of wings and tail.

If all goes well, the flying car team expects to have a new production model certified in 12 months. The final production model is expected to reach speeds of 186 mph with a range of around 621 miles.

Keep you eyes open for flying cars in the near future, maybe within a year in the skies over Europe.

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Battery-electric transit buses debuting in Atlanta, bus stops all over

Battery-electric transit buses
More and more battery-electric transit buses are pulling up at bus stops all over the country.

The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA), one of the largest public transit systems in the U.S., is one of the latest public transportation systems to get on board with plans to add six Xcelsior CHARGE battery-electric forty-foot buses. The Atlanta transit system delivers over 116 million passenger trips per year. The funding for the buses will be supported by the Federal Transit Authority.

The buses from New Flyer of America Inc., a subsidiary of NFI Group Inc., will have a capacity of 40-43 people and a range of around 350 miles with zero-emission. NFI was founded in 1930 and is now a global bus manufacturer. The company introduced its first battery-electric bus in 2012 and now has team members in 10 countries.

Interior view of a battery-electric transit bus
Some of the features of electric buses that differentiate it from diesel-powered transit buses include wider walking areas, Wi-Fi connectivity, USB chargers and the bus being quieter with the electric powertrain and possibly lower maintenance costs. There will be front and rear wheelchair ramps. According to MARTA, these battery-electric buses will support their efforts to “reduce greenhouse gas emissions through sustainable transportation.” The buses will have a life span of 12 years and should save around $400,000 in fuel costs.

Designed on NFI's Xcelsior platform, New Flyer offers zero-emission mobility through its battery-electric Xcelsior CHARGE (in 35, 40, and 60-foot lengths) and fuel cell-electric Xcelsior CHARGE H2 (in 40 and 60-foot lengths). A fully automated transit bus is also in the works.

Atlanta will be joining several other electric bus fleets across the U.S, including the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) in California, the Westchester County Department of Public Works and Transportation in the state of New York, and an order for 100 Additional Transit Buses for the Washington, D.C. Metro Region. The eastern Georgia city of Augusta is also testing the waters with eco-friendly electric buses.


While the headlines for the emerging electric vehicles technology has been dominated early on by Toyota with the Prius, starting in 2001 and the founding of Tesla in 2003, NFL arrived on the scene in 2012 with its first battery-electric bus. Although the Tesla Model S, also introduced in 2012, might have grabbed all the attention, NFI has been quietly perfecting the electric transit bus technology and delivered its 10,000 Xcelsior-platform electric bus in 2018.

Nowadays, with most of the major auto manufacturers involved in the electric vehicles revolution, New Flyer and NFI continue to move forward with new bus models for the future of the public transportation. According to the company, the automation plans for the Xcelsior AV model will be North America's first automated transit bus.

Don’t be surprised when an all-electric bus pulls up at a bus stop near you. And with the autonomous plans, it might not have a bus driver on board.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Windows 11 for business is coming soon with enhanced features

Windows 11 comming soon
Microsoft is rolling our Windows 11 for business with emphasis on employee integration, enhanced productivity tools, and easier support for IT using familiar tools.

The platform hopes to make employees more productive with a deep Teams software integration for more productive meetings. According to Microsoft, Windows 11 will help employees get more work done with less stress.


New PCs will be available later this year with Windows 11 installed. If purchasing a new PC right away, most devices currently on the shelves will be upgradeable. If upgrading from Windows 10, small business owners will need to check compatibility to see if their PCs will run Windows 11. The minimum system requirements are available on Microsoft's website.

Watch for more details on Windows 11 for business in the coming months.


Sunday, July 11, 2021

Electric buses debut in Qatar for future of public transportation

Electric Bus

And here comes the electric buses all the way from Qatar. I believe we are starting to see the future of public transportation.

This first batch of the EV fleet is a part of Qatar’s public transportation plan for the year 2030 being initiated by this Western Asia State on the Arabian Peninsula.

The EVs will be suited for local transportation in all kinds of weather conditions, which is important for vehicles powered by electricity. With liquid-cooled engines along with a 350-kilowatt hour (kWh) lithium iron phosphate battery, the buses are expected to have an average range of around 127 miles, or 200 kilometers.

The manufacturing company, Yutong Bus Co., Ltd, is a specialist in the production of buses and is also working closely with the Qatar government for their “green transformation” efforts in the future.

I am sure this technology will be making a presence on this side on the pond very soon. So do not be too surprised if a snazzy and colorful electric bus pulls up alongside you at the stoplight.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Going autonomous is the future of mobility with self-driving cars

I believe that self-driving cars are going to be the next big thing, with mainstream companies like Tesla, Google, and start ups like Zoox leading the way.

Although Tesla has gotten a head start and is planning on launching their technology in 2020 or sooner, don’t underestimate Zoox, who has a new CEO in Aichia Evans, a native of Senegal, with impressive credentials and a track record to match with tech giants like Intel Corporation and Communication and Devices Group.

Evans has been responsible for wireless engineering in past roles, especially at Intel, where she engineered WiMAX networks, and also during stints with firms like Conexant, Rockwell Semiconductors, and Skyworks.

Now the former Intel senior vice president, with an army of gurus from other tech companies, will try to work her magic in the autonomous driving sector, with a vision of robo-taxis tooling passengers around town . With testing going in San Francisco, the Zoox team is hoping to be on the streets in 2020. Time will tell if Zoox is able to turn its visionary ride-hailing idea into a successful business and revenue.

As reported in Business Insider, Zoox co-founder and CTO Jesse Leninson said Zoox is developing autonomous vehicles for “ride-hailing” instead of individual ownership. This makes more economic sense to me, as monies will be accepted by the same vehicle multiple times of day and night. Whereas, with individual ownership, sure you’ll pay a bundle to purchase the self-driving vehicle, but then what? It’ll stay parked and depreciate until you need to make a trip.

One big gamble for Zoox is that Waymo, owned by Alphabet (Google’s parent company) and Cruise Automation, backed by General Motors, are using vehicles already in operation by traditional auto manufacturers, while Zoox is building their vehicles from the ground up, with custom hardware and software. While Waymo has been testing their vehicles on a limited basis in Arizona, they recently got permission to test their prototypes on roads in Las Vegas, which might be more challenging than the streets of their home territory in San Francisco.

Waymo has been developing their public ride-hailing service for a couple of years now with an early-rider program and recently launched apps in the Apple and Google Play stores.

Let’s certainly not count out Elon Musk and Tesla’s Autopilot system, which has been around since 2014. While not entirely self-driving at this point, this innovative system does offer limited autonomous driving, lane changing and “summon your car” features.

The Autopilot feature, which is now standard on every Tesla, has had several updates over the past years and is now available as an enhanced package for customers who purchase the Full Self-Driving, or FSD, package for around $7,000. Just be aware that even with Telsa’s ability to drive autonomously, a driver must stay alert and ready to take over the controls.

Depending on who you believe, Tesla is pushing for their FSD package before the end of 2019 or a debut in 2020. The company also has plans in the works for s Tesla robotaxi service.

A fleet of self-driving vehicles for autonomous Chinese startup AutoX.
Chinese startup AutoX has been developing their self-driving technology since 2016.

On the world stage, another player in the autonomous arena is Chinese startup AutoX, founded by Jianxiong Xiao, or Professor X, who has vast experience in computer learning and robotics. With a team of notable engineers, they have been developing their self-driving technology since 2016. Their approach to self-driving includes real-time cameras, sensors and artificial intelligence for quick reactions and autonomous decisions. They have already earned the coveted “California Public Utilities Commission” permit and completed their first Robotaxi service to a passenger in California.


The AutoX team is also turning their attention to deploying RoboTaxis in Europe by partnering with Swedish EV manufacturer NEVS, who acquired Saab Automobile AB in 2012. We’ll probably see more autonomous development from this team in 2020.

Simply because of who they are, and with deep pockets, Waymo is probably considered the market leader in the autonomous driving arena, The Google-backed company seems to be further along with their technology while shuttling real passengers who are using their service.

I imagine it’ll be that way for a while, or at least until Apple and Amazon reveal their autonomous plans.