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UPS Has Been Using Self-Driving Trucks To Deliver Packages

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UPS Has Been Using Self-Driving Trucks To Deliver Packages
Photo Credit: UPS

UPS delivery service has partnered up with autonomous trucking startup TuSimple – a union that has brought self-driving trucks to American roads! Sounds scary? Surprisingly, it’s safer and the trucks have already been out and about driverlessly delivering cargo between Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona (a 115-mile stretch) for months.

Prior to working with UPS, TuSimple ran a partnership with the United States Postal Service (USPS) in May. Mail was being transported as a pilot project on the 1,000-mile stretch between the USPS’s Phoenix, Arizona, and Dallas, Texas, distribution centres.

TuSimple is a fairly new company, founded in 2015 and headquartered in San Diego, California and Beijing China. The vehicles it uses are Navistar trucks outfitted with their very own self-driving technology. The system sees the world mostly though a set of 9 cameras and a pair of LIDAR sensors to feel its surroundings.

The vehicles operate at “Level 4” autonomy, as measured by the Society of Automotive Engineers’ “Levels of Driving Automation” standard. What this means is that the trucks can fully drive themselves but a driver and engineer are required to be stationed in the driver and front seats of the vehicle at all times, ready to take manual control in case something goes awry.

For now, state law (in Arizona) requires a driver to be behind the wheel of any kind of self-driving vehicle with an on-board computer that’s in full control of its operation. However, TuSimple still hopes to go fully autonomous and take humans out of the cabin altogether by the end of 2020 – something it is on track to do, according to TuSimple President Xiaodi Hou.

Credit: TuSimple

Of all the TuSimple trucks being tested on the roads today, none have reported any complications or accidents. The same cannot be said for the traditional trucking industry: 987 truckers died on the job in 2017 in America alone, while thousands more were injured by traffic accidents, moving heavy cargo or other job-related duties. These figures don’t even include non-truck drivers who were killed or injured in accidents involving large trucks.

TuSimple’s goal is to provide a safer and more economical option for companies who ship goods. The startup has promised UPS that its self-driving trucks will be able to reduce the costs of shipping goods by 30% – and they are already proving to be less dangerous than human-driven long-hauls.

This article (UPS Has Been Using Self-Driving Trucks To Deliver Packages) was originally created for Intelligent Living and is published here under Creative Commons.

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Technology

Hyundai Reveals Hydrogen-Powered Heavy-Duty Commercial Truck And Trailer

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Hyundai Reveals Hydrogen-Powered Heavy-Duty Commercial Truck And Trailer
Photo Credit: Hyundai
Heavy-Duty Hydrogen Trucks

Hyundai Motor Company (HMC) recently debuted the HDC-6 NEPTUNE Concept – a hydrogen-powered Class 8 heavy-duty truck – at the North American Commercial Vehicle (NACV) Show. It’s the company’s way of launching into potential opportunities in the American commercial vehicle market, and it went well! The event fully supported Hyundai’s FCEV 2030 Vision. Furthermore, its NACV Show display reinforced its aim of expanding and accelerating the deployment of fuel cell technology.

Photo Credit: Hyundai

Edward Lee, Head of Hyundai Commercial Vehicle Business Division, said:

“Today at this show, by showing HDC-6 Neptune, the first hydrogen-only concept for Hyundai Motor Company’s commercial vehicles, we will start exploring opportunities in the United States commercial vehicle market. Furthermore, we are willing to work with other partners to pave the way to establish a hydrogen ecosystem for commercial vehicles.”

Hyundai disclosed two fresh concepts relating to its Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle 2030: the HDC-6 NEPTUNE Concept Class 8 heavy-duty truck by HMC and the HT Nitro ThermoTech – a clean energy refrigerated concept trailer by leading trailer manufacturer Hyundai Translead (HT). The tractor-trailer combination is their vision of the future of transportation in America, and worldwide.

Bongjae Lee, Chief Executive Officer of HT, said:

“This refrigerated trailer concept represents a significant advancement in our continued commitment to corporate social responsibility. By developing innovative technology, Hyundai Translead is helping address climate change. The HT Nitro ThermoTech reduces pollutants and emissions while providing reliable and effective cold chain food transportation.”

Fuel cells are ideal for commercial vehicles, especially heavy-duty trucks, because of the long driving distances, which require a high drive range. The fuel cells provide a higher payload, less refuelling, and as a result, lower costs.

Fuel Cell Leader

Hyundai has been working with fuel cell technology for a long time now. It launched the first commercially available, mass-produced fuel cell electric vehicle back in 2013. Then, it released NEXO in 2018 and invested $6.4 billion to spur the development of a hydrogen society that same year.

Even the fuel cell powertrain in the HDC-6 Neptune Concept comes from the company’s fuel cell crossovers already in use on the roads today. Hyundai fuel cell trucks are already in use in Switzerland.

Streamliner Design

Art Deco streamliner railway trains from the 1940s and 50s inspired the aesthetic of the HDC-6 Neptune truck. As far as locomotives go, the design of today’s bullet trains originated from these streamliners. Hyundai is sure that the story will be the same for the tractor-trailer trucks of tomorrow – they will originate from its Neptune trucks of today.

Photo Credit: Hyundai

Luc Donckerwolke, Chief Design Officer of HMG, said:

“The fuel cell powertrain gave us the opportunity to redefine the classical typology and architecture of the truck. The Hyundai Commercial Vehicles Design Team started with a white sheet of paper focusing on the new defined functionality resetting all standards in order to project commercial vehicles in the future.”

Not only is the body beautiful and the concept meaningful, but the form follows function as well. The shape of the round-nosed front enabled for a large grille that allows generous airflow into the fuel cell stacks and batteries. Seamlessly integrated into the grille are retractable steps for the driver to get in and out of the vehicle.

So, when will we see these trucks on the road? For now, it remains just a concept, so nobody knows.

This article (Hyundai Reveals Hydrogen-Powered Heavy-Duty Commercial Truck And Trailer) was originally created for Intelligent Living and is published here under Creative Commons.

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Innovation

New Seaweed That Tastes Like Bacon And Has Twice The Nutritional Value Of Kale!

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Photo Credit: Pexels

Could it really be true, that you can eat bacon guilt free? With a seaweed called dulse, the answer is yes! As a bonus, these algae are packed with nutritional value and it’s a good source of protein. Sounds incredible, doesn’t it!

This unique variety of dulse has been engineered and harvested by professor Chuck Toombs and scientists at Oregon State University (OSU) to taste just like bacon when it’s cooked. This seaweed is a form of red marine algae that usually grows along the Pacific and Atlantic coastlines. It looks like translucent red lettuce.

Toombs said: “Dulse is a super food, with twice the nutritional value of kale.”

Originally, this new strain was developed by Oregon state researcher Chris Langdon and his team while trying to find a good source of food for edible sea snails or abalones. Langdon realized he had his hands on something special when his colleague Chuck Toombs caught a glimpse of it. Toombs said he thought that the seaweed had potential for a new industry on the Oregon coast. He then began working with the university’s Food Innovation Center, which created a variety of foods with the seaweed as its main ingredient.

Dulse has actually been around for a long time already. It has been produced and consumed by people in northern Europe for centuries! It is well known as a natural source of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Langdon told OSU:

“This stuff is pretty amazing. When you fry it, which I have done, it tastes like bacon not seaweed. And it’s a pretty strong bacon flavor.”

Bacon HD
Photo Credit: Pexels

Some dried red algae are already available in health food supermarkets but it is expensive. Langdon says he is growing about 20 to 30 pounds of this particular strain of bacon-flavoured seaweed per week but he plans to more than triple the production.

No analysis has been done yet to find out whether commercializing the seaweed would be practical, but the team thinks that the vegan and vegetarian markets may be interested. The students and researchers at the university’s Food Innovation Center are already creating delicious varieties of recipes with dulse such as Veggie burgers, salad dressing, and even beer.

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Innovation

These Sustainable, Fireproof, Weather-Proof Geoship Domes Could Solve Today’s Housing Crisis

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These Sustainable, Fireproof, Weather-Proof Geoship Domes Could Solve Today’s Housing Crisis
Photo Credit: Geoship

As the years go by, natural disasters such as wildfires and hurricanes are becoming more frequent. Meanwhile, architects have been battling with this situation by coming up with new design ideas that are resilient and stronger, capable of withstanding the growing forces of nature. One such design solution – the bioceramic geodesic dome – comes from an eco-friendly architectural firm in Seattle called Geoship run by two brothers.

The “home of the future” is not made from conventional building materials such as wood or concrete. It is made from bioceramic, a material which can withstand disasters, and has the potential to dramatically lower construction costs. One of the owners of the firm a young engineer called Morgan Bierschenk, told FastCompany that the idea to use this material first arose when he asked himself: “Why we’re still pounding nails in wood, like people were doing 100 years ago?”

Geoship home. Credit: Geoship

When Bierschenk began researching better ways to design, he came across the architectural revolution of the geodesic dome, promoted in the 1970s by Buckminster Fuller. That was when the lightning bolt struck. While Fuller envisioned the design solution to be something that could help the housing crisis after WWII, he was a little ahead of his time because the materials and methods were not advanced yet to make his idea revolutionary. He realized the idea itself was brilliant, and it’s relevant to today’s crisis too, maybe even more so… and now we do have advanced enough materials and methods to mass make these geodesic homes affordably to house all the people in need of shelter! From this moment, Bierschenk and his brother founded the Geoship startup.

Credit: Geoship
Advantages Of The Bioceramic Geodesic Dome
  • The overall shape is inherently strong and efficient. The structure should be able to withstand extreme forces from wind and weather.
  • The main material is ceramic composite (CC) which was originally developed at Argonne National Labs for use in shielding nuclear waste – it is a highly resilient substance made from minerals and it is reliable.
  • The CC can be made into any shape one wishes. They had the material made into modular triangular panels for their geodesic domes.
  • The CC is lightweight.
  • The CC is fireproof up to 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit; in a fire, the house won’t burn.
  • The CC reflects more than 80% of the heat from the sun, helping keep the inside cool in heatwaves, a plus with the onset of climate change.
  • The CC resists insects and mold. It absorbs little water so it is also ideal in case of flooding.
  • The panels are chemically bonded together so there are fewer connections and therefore fewer chances for failure.
  • The homes are modular and can be disassembled and rebuilt elsewhere.
  • Any repairs are easily done by simply using the same material again to patch up a panel. The bioceramic acts like glue and bonds to itself.
  • The homes estimated to have a 500-year lifespan.
  • Overall costs are said to be 40% less than traditional construction. The geometry shrinks the amount of material needed.
  • The primary material in CC is phosphate, which can be recycled from wastewater.
  • The panels would be mass made in a factory, then delivered in a shipping container and assembled on-site. It would only take a few days saving heaps in labour costs. “Essentially, it’s like Legos going together,” said Bierschenk.
  • The homes are chemical-free and chemically inert. The materials don’t create any indoor air pollution.
  • The homes are self-venting and full of natural light. Vents at the top and the bottom of the dome help cool the house naturally. Insulation is made by making hollow panels – the same ceramic material is used but filled with air. This makes the home “passive” so it can be heated and cooled without external energy, therefore saving on energy use and costs.
  • The homes sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Geoship Villages

The company has plans that could make it possible for people with little money to afford a home through community land trusts. They aim to help groups start land trusts to create dome “villages” and even offer co-op part-ownership of the company to the buyers. “We think to really solve the affordable housing crisis you have to have some way to kind of transcend the single-family home with land ownership and take land speculation out of the picture,” Bierschenk said.

Credit: Geoship

Geoship is even building a platform that groups of people can use to collaborate on the design of a village of the homes. They will then walk groups through the process of setting up the community land trust and provide them with a cooperative ownership model in which customers will ultimately own between 30% and 70% of the company. “This fundamentally reshapes the home building industry, and capitalism itself,” Geoship writes on their website. “Our success becomes your success.”

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Innovation

New MRI Technique Can See Changes In Brain’s Molecular Composition

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Molecular Composition
Photo Credit: Intelligent Living

MRIs are a brilliant piece of modern medicine that give us a picture of our body’s insides – organs, bones, nerves, and soft tissue. Now, scientists have made them even more useful by successfully transforming an MRI from a diagnostic camera into a device that can record changes in the biological makeup of brain tissue. Meaning, it can show us the molecular makeup of our body parts!

This advance could help doctors more quickly determine the onset of disease and begin treatment. It will clarify whether a patient is merely aging or developing a neurodegenerative disease, such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. The research has been published in the journal Nature Communications.

A team of researchers led by Dr. Aviv Mezer at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HUJI)’s Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences successfully transformed an MRI into a diagnostic camera which serves as a device that can record changes in the biological makeup of brain tissue.

“Instead of images, our quantitative MRI model provides molecular information about the brain tissue we’re studying. This could allow doctors to compare brain scans taken over time from the same patient, and to differentiate between healthy and diseased brain tissue, without resorting to invasive or dangerous procedures, such as brain tissue biopsies.”

When you look at someone in person, the signs of aging are obvious – i.e. gray hair, a stooped spine, wrinkled skin, occasional memory loss, etc. However, what really matters is what’s going on upstairs, in the brain. Is that occasional forgetfulness normal or something to worry about? That can only be seen on the biological level. Normal aging and neurodegenerative diseases both create biological “footprints” in the brain. These “footprints” change the lipid and protein content of brain tissue.

Current MRI scans can only provide pictures of the human brain making it difficult to see the jeopardous biological changes. This new technique, on the other hand, provides biological readouts of brain tissue – the ability to see what’s going on on a molecular level and to direct a course of treatment accordingly.

Ph.D. student Shir Filo who worked on the study said:

“When we take a blood test, it shows us the exact number of white blood cells in our body and whether that number is higher than normal due to illness. MRI scans provide images of the brain but don’t show changes in the composition of the human brain, changes that could potentially differentiate normal aging from the beginnings of Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.”

Mezer presumes that in the future, the new MRI technique will also provide a crucial understanding of how our brains age. He explained:

“When we scanned young and old patients’ brains, we saw that different brain areas ages differently. For example, in some white-matter areas, there is a decrease in brain tissue volume, whereas in the gray-matter, tissue volume remains constant. However, we saw major changes in the molecular makeup of the gray matter in younger versus older subjects.”

With technology like this available, patients will be able to get an MRI that has the adequacy of distinguishing molecular signs of normal aging from the early signs of disease. The day is soon coming where people will receive a correct diagnosis earlier and therefore be able to start treatment earlier. Those people will be able to maintain an improved quality of life for a longer time, all via a non-invasive technique, and that’s a beautiful thing!

This article (New MRI Technique Can See Changes In Brain’s Molecular Composition) was originally created for Intelligent Living and is published here under Creative Commons.

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