Watch Aurora’s autonomous Driver technology navigate highways in inclement weather [Video]
Storms, sleet, snow, and even high winds can provide added danger to highways where large vehicles like semitrucks are traveling at high speeds. The abundance of caution and safety is multiplied when you remove the truck driver from the equation. As it prepares to launch its Horizon autonomous service, self-driving tech company Aurora has shared footage of its Driver software responding appropriately when it encounters areas of lower visibility. Check out the video below.
Aurora is an autonomous vehicle and associated tech company we have watched evolve over the past several years. Several legacy automakers have taken their turn investing and collaborating with the company, whose growing list of partners currently includes the likes of Toyota, Peterbilt, and Uber Freight.
In 2018, Aurora and Volvo Group teamed up to develop a self-driving Volvo truck they nicknamed Pistachio. However, neither side’s technology was where it needed to be at the time to prove successful. As a result, both sides parted ways and focused on achieving Level 4 autonomy separately.
In 2019, Aurora acquired a leading Lidar company in Blackmore, enabling it to begin developing a sensing suite truly capable of safely operating large trucks autonomously at high speeds. Since 2020, Aurora has been deploying Class 8 trucks integrated with its Aurora Driver technology containing its proprietary Lidar and hasn’t looked back… although it has paired back up with Volvo, who has integrated Aurora driver into its own trucks.
As Aurora looks to launch self-driving trucks as a service called “Horizon” in 2024, it has begun demonstrating just how intuitive and safe its autonomous technology is… even during less-than-ideal weather conditions.
Aurora spotlights its autonomous capabilities in latest post
The company shared the following blog post this morning, explaining that in the freight trucking segment especially, unexpected weather patterns can impede schedules. According to the US Department of Transportation, approximately 21% of accidents occur in inclement weather.
All the more reason to ensure the safety of Aurora’s autonomous vehicles as those around them. The company explained that its latest version of Aurora Driver will automatically slow the truck and proceed with caution whenever it encounters rain, snow, or fog. Better still, the vehicles will automatically exercise caution if sensors encounter outside factors affecting sensor visibility, such as smoke, dust, or even insects.
For times when visibility is lower but still navigable, Aurora has implemented an effective sensor cleaning solution (seen above) and uses concentrated and targeted pockets of air combined with washer fluid to quickly clear cameras and lidar sensors from any moisture or debris.
All that said, if road conditions become too dangerous to continue, Aurora Driver knows to reduce the speed of the autonomous truck and search for a safe place to stop and alert the company’s Command Center. Per Aurora:
We prioritize the safe operation of our technology and the safety of other road users. That’s why we’ve designed the Aurora Driver to emulate the best human truck drivers and act conservatively when environmental conditions pose safety risks. When necessitated by harsh environmental conditions, a brief pause in the mission to wait out a sudden storm is safer, and therefore more desirable, than risking the lives of other road users.
Aurora provided the following video, demonstrating its Aurora Driver technology safely navigating a truck along the highway during a foggy day in Texas, where the company operates. It says it is working to expand its operations outside of its current Dallas to Houston launch lane and will continue to train Aurora Driver to safely respond to additional forms of inclement weather going forward.
The first US-built offshore wind substation is sailing to New York
The first US-built offshore wind substation is complete and headed to South Fork Wind – a major milestone for the US offshore wind industry.
Offshore substations collect and stabilize power that the wind turbines generate, preparing it for transmission to shore. South Fork Wind’s 1,500-ton, 60-foot-tall substation was designed and engineered in Kansas, and built near Corpus Christi by Kiewit Offshore Services, the largest offshore fabricator in the US.
The first US-built offshore wind substation left Kiewit’s factory on a ship late last week. It’s going to cross the Gulf of Mexico and then sail up the East Coast for installation off Long Island in a few weeks.
David Hardy, group EVP and CEO Americas at Ørsted, said:
The completion of South Fork Wind’s offshore wind substation is yet another first for this groundbreaking project and moves us one step closer to the project’s first ‘steel in the water.’
South Fork, which is being jointly developed by Danish wind giant Ørsted and energy provider Eversource, is expected to be operational by 2023, when it will become the first completed utility-scale offshore wind farm in US federal waters.
Cable laying is currently under way, and the installation of monopile foundations will begin in coming weeks.
The 132 megawatt (MW), 12-turbine project will produce enough clean energy to power 70,000 homes in New York.
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Read more: The first US-built offshore wind service ship reaches a milestone
Quick Charge Podcast: May 29, 2023
Listen to a recap of the top stories of the day from Electrek. Quick Charge is available now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, TuneIn and our RSS feed for Overcast and other podcast players.
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ZParq completes $2.7M seed round to bring ultracompact electric marine motors to market
Swedish marine propulsion startup ZParq announced it has successfully completed a seed round led by cleantech investors, totaling 2.5 million euros ($2.68M). With the fresh funding, ZParq looks to bring its compact electric marine motors, powertrains, and other adjacent technologies to market to help decarbonize the segment.
ZParq is a young startup founded in Sweden in 2020, which, according to the company, was founded to challenge the limits of marine propulsion by providing the most compact and scalable systems for propeller-driven watercraft. Furthermore, the startup is striving to deliver products that are designed to be sustainable over the entire value chain. Per the company site:
Our founding team covers the span of electromechanical design, hydrodynamics, electronics and product design. We’ve been developing our technology to fill the gap where compact submersible electric propulsion systems are needed for high performance applications.
As you’ll see below, ZParq has already developed and sleek and compact portfolio of marine technologies, including electric motors, battery packs, inverters, levers, and even a steering joystick. Early on, ZParq joined the portfolio of EIT InnoEnergy – the largest impact cleantech investor in Europe, who was the startup’s first institutional investor.
Now, EIT InnoEnergy, along with a couple of other capital venture funds, have opened up their checkbooks to help get ZParq’s electric marine motors out to market and beyond.
ZParq’s electric marine motors are sustainable end-to-end
The startup recently shared details of its successful seed round coled by Santander (via the Santander InnoEnergy Climate Fund) and Almi Invest GreenTech. EIT InnoEnergy also participated once again.
Each of these funds is focused around investments in early-stage companies developing new technologies to support a circular economy and combat climate change. Clearly, they see potential in ZParq – which is touting all-electric marine motors that are significantly smaller and more efficient compared to everything else on the current market.
ZParq states the motor’s light design reduces raw material and CO2 footprint by more than 50% in the production phase, and the circular design approach of its products helps reduce their environmental impact and climate footprint throughout their entire life cycle. ZParq CEO Jonas Genchel spoke to the successful seed round and the venture capitalists that have shown their support:
We are very happy to get Santander and Almi Invest GreenTech as new investors, they will provide us with the support required to finalize development of our first products and enable shipment to our customers already this year. Our scalable and modular technology has generated an overwhelming interest from boat manufacturers and ship builders globally, and we have customers within the complete range from small leisure boats to commercial vessels waiting for our powertrains. The company is currently in pilot phase with several OEMs and boat builders who are testing its 10kW and 50kW motors. It aims to have several units operating in water by this summer
It appears ZParq already has plenty of exciting electric marine technology in the works, including more powerful motors, so we will be sure to track its progress as these products approach market launch. A fresh 2.5 million euros should certainly help it continue to innovate and hopefully find success. More to come.
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