|Good morning || July 8, 2019|
Leading the News
Amazon Asks FCC For Permission To Launch 3,236 Satellites
Bloomberg (7/5, Shields) reported that in a July 4 filing with the Federal Communications Commission, Amazon “asked for U.S. permission to launch 3,236 communications satellites, joining a new space race to offer internet service from low orbits and challenge the fleet planned by Elon Musk’s SpaceX.” The company’s “Kuiper satellites will deliver broadband to tens of millions of consumers and businesses that now lack adequate access to the internet. The agency coordinates trajectories and radio-frequency use.” In its FCC filing, “Amazon cited FCC studies that say 21 million Americans lack fixed, residential broadband and 33 million Americans don’t have access to speedy mobile service. Worldwide, 3.8 billion people remain without fast and reliable broadband service, according to the application.” In June, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos “said the Kuiper project will cost ‘multiple billions of dollars.’” Kuiper is separate from Bezos-owned Blue Origin.
GeekWire (7/5, Boyle, Soper) reported Amazon said in the filing, “Amazon’s mission is to be Earth’s most customer-centric company, and the Kuiper System is one of our ambitious projects to fulfill this mission. ... The Kuiper System will deliver satellite broadband communications services to tens of millions of unserved and underserved consumers and businesses in the United States and around the globe.” Additionally, the “application says the satellite system would take advantage of the Seattle tech giant’s expertise in providing consumer services, as well as the ground-based infrastructure that’s been built for Amazon Web Services.” The application doesn’t say when or by whom the satellites would be launch. While Blue Origin could handle the job, “that could get tricky, because publicly traded Amazon would have to guard against conflicts of interest.” The FCC “filings confirm that Rajeev Badyal, the satellite engineer who once led SpaceX’s Starlink effort but was reportedly fired last year, is the president and manager of Kuiper Systems.”
Tom’s Hardware (UK) (7/5, Mott) said, “Project Kuiper could potentially bring Amazon closer to Blue Origin...should they collaborate on the satellite network.” Regardless, “connecting more people to the Internet could be a boon for Amazon. The company wouldn’t necessarily have to convince those people to buy things from its marketplace, either, thanks to the variety of digital services it offers.”
New Mexico Schools Place In Top Five For National Engineering Competition
The Albuquerque (NM) Journal (7/5, Perea) reported, “Two New Mexico schools made the Land of Enchantment proud in a national engineering competition.” The Journal said, “Students from Chaparral Middle School and Albuquerque magnet school nex+Gen Academy participated in the Mathematics, Engineering and Science Achievement or MESA event, both placing in the top five overall.” The USA National Engineering Design Competition “was hosted at the University of Arizona and wrapped up on June 21.”
Rutgers Solar Car Team Heads To International Competition
My Central Jersey (7/5) reported, “A team of Rutgers students who designed and built a solar-panel covered car traveled to Texas to compete against 24 other colleges and universities from the United States and Canada in an annual solar car race.” My Central Jersey said, “It’s the Rutgers team’s first race using a solar car that School of Engineering students built, having started with a donated chassis and car body six months ago.” The team “includes an eclectic mix of Rutgers-New Brunswick students from the business and engineering schools, and the Mason Gross School of the Arts.”
University Of Arizona Launches STEM Program For Veterans
Stars And Stripes (7/6, Khmara) reports, “A new program to support veterans studying in a STEM field is launching at the University of Arizona.” Assistant professor of chemistry Michael Marty “started researching veterans participation in STEM fields after retired Lt. Col. James Rohrbough joined Marty’s lab as a staff scientist. Marty found that graduation rates and persistence in STEM were lower in veterans than in the overall student population.” A new program in the school’s Arizona Science, Engineering and Math Scholars program, “with the help of the main program and the veterans services center,” is “intended to give veterans unique support and opportunities to help them succeed and excel.”
Auburn Offers New Dual-Degree In German, Engineering
The AP (7/6, Fimrite) reported, “Auburn University has a new dual-degree program for students interested in both engineering and the German language.” The new program “has students taking four years of classes in Auburn and one year in Germany, where they’ll study at a partner school and work in an internship.”
ASEE TV Programming from the 2019 Annual Conference
See higlihgts of the Monday and Tuesday plenary sessions.
View the full playlist here.
Research and Development
NASA Picks Montana State University Researchers’ Computer For Moon Trial
The AP (7/7) reports, “A computer designed by Montana State University researchers to survive damaging radiation in space was chosen for a trial on the moon’s surface.” NASA “picked the RadPC last week as one of 12 science and technology payloads that will be sent to the moon in 2020 or 2021, The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported.” Lead researcher Brock LaMeres “said the mission will test whether the computer can hold up under high-energy radiation particles from the sun and other celestial bodies,” and “if the computer succeeds, it could be a candidate to be the primary flight computer for lunar missions, he said.”
RIT Researchers Receive $1 Million NSF Grant For Food Waste Management Research
WXXI-TV Rochester, NY (7/5, Gorbman) reported, “RIT professors and staff are involved in an effort to find solutions to the huge amounts of food waste generated in New York State and across the US.” WXXI wrote, “Associate Professor of Sustainability Callie Babbitt is part of a grant-funded project looking at ways of dealing with food waste in a more sustainable manner.” Babbit, “who is with RIT’s Golisano [Institute] for Sustainability, is working with a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation.”
Massachusetts Company Seeking To Power Electric Flying Taxis Using Hydrogen Fuel Cells
NBC News (7/7, Metcalfe) reports that over “100 electric air taxi designs are already in the works for short hops in cities, including the Airbus Vahana, the German Volocopter, and Uber’s Elevate project.” However, “a new design aims to rise above the others with its use of hydrogen fuel cells instead of batteries to power longer flights that can carry more weight.” Alaka’i Technologies, which is based in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, claims such “cells will give its six-rotor Scai air taxi greater range and lifting power than competitors using batteries, which could open up new opportunities to fly people and other payloads.” The firm not long ago revealed “a mockup of the Scai air taxi in Los Angeles, and says it will soon start tests on a flying prototype.” That vehicle may “be in production in the United States by 2021, although it will need approval from the Federal Aviation Administration.”
Sources: Ford, Volkswagen May Formalize Partnership On Autonomous, Electric Vehicle Development This Week
The New York Times (7/5, Ewing, Boudette) reported Ford and Volkswagen “are expected to sign an agreement as soon as next week to share the cost of developing autonomous vehicles and producing electric cars,” with Volkswagen’s supervisory board likely to take up the matter on Thursday. The two automakers already collaborate on certain truck production, but the more “ambitious” agreement “would be the latest example of how longtime rivals are joining forces during a period of extraordinary ferment in the auto industry.” Virtually all OEMs are joining partnerships or consortia aimed at pooling together capital resources for the multi-billion investment in electric and autonomous mobility. As the Times says, “they must invest hundreds of billions of dollars in coming years or risk becoming irrelevant.” Plus, they have competition from tech companies such as Google and Uber, whose “access to enormous financial resources” provides them with at least one advantage.
Global Market Insights: Medical UAV Market To Be Worth Close To $400M By 2025
AZ Business Magazine (7/6) reported that Global Market Insights, Inc. estimates in a new study that the global market for medical UAVs will grow from $88 million currently to $399 million by 2025, thanks to “technological advancements in medical drones” and increased adoption due to convenience. Furthermore, “growing public acceptance towards medical drones in developing economies will surge its demand, thereby propelling business growth.” The study named key industry players as DHL, DJI, Embention, Flirtey, Matternet, Vayu and Zipline, among others. UPS formed a partnership with Matternet in March 2019 “for delivering medical samples by the usage of drone.”
Analysis: US Regulators Unlikely To Care That Autonomous Vehicles Will Probably Prioritize Occupants Over Pedestrians, Cyclists
Slate ’s (7/5, Grabar) Henry Grabar wrote that as “researchers and journalists” examine how US regulators will respond if autonomous vehicles prioritize the safety over their occupants over pedestrians and cyclists, “a clue can be found in a real-life iteration of the trolley problem that has been quietly playing out for the past 10 years.”
Starsky Robotics Becomes First Company To Test Unmanned Truck On Public Highway
Equipment World (7/4, Cannon) reports that on June 16, Starsky Robotics “became the first company to test a completely unmanned vehicle at highway speeds on a public road alongside traffic” on a 9.4 mile stretch of the Florida Turnpike. A remote driver sitting “behind a bank of screens 200 miles away navigated a Volvo VNL, towing an unloaded trailer, onto the highway from a rest stop before ceding control of the rig to an onboard suite of sensors and software.” Starsky’s “strategy for autonomous trucking includes a human driver that handles the first and last mile from a remote location, while letting technology...handle the highway miles in between.” Starsky Founder and CEO Stefan Seltz-Axmacher said, “We beat Waymo. We beat all the big OEMs. We’ve beat just about the whole industry.”
Air Force Unveils New Anti-Drone Microwave Weapon
National Interest (7/5) reported that on Thursday morning the US Air Force Research Laboratory at Kirtland Air Force Base unveiled a “high-powered microwave weapon at their disposal to instantaneously down swarms of enemy drones,” a $15 million weapon project “built in cooperation with three companies, including global engineering firms BAE Systems and Leidos and the Albuquerque firm Verus Research.” In a “live demonstration with local reporters,” the Tactical High Power Microwave Operational Responder, or THOR, was able to “effortlessly knock a hovering drone out of the sky with an invisible and inaudible electromagnetic wave.” THOR Program Manager Amber Anderson said of the system, “It’s built to negate swarms of drones ... We want to drop many of them at one time without a single leaker getting through.”
UTSA Develops Self-Driving Search And Rescue Rover
San Antonio Express-News (7/5) reports that researchers at the University of Texas at San Antonio “say they’re close to fielding a self-driving rover that can conduct search and rescue missions in treacherous terrain.” For the rover, a drone can determine “potential paths, and the rover then releases several small vehicles to try to track down the missing person or object.” The rover was developed with battlefield scenarios in mind, but UTSA Engineering Professor Mo Jamshidi also “said some of the concepts the team has developed can be used to create robots to assist the elderly and smart walkers for the visually impaired.” UTSA is “working to commercialize the technology.”
Opinion: Americans Should Mistrust Huawei Despite Changes In US Government’s Position
In a “Global Opinions” piece, The Washington Post (7/5, Fish) contributor Isaac Stone Fish argued that “regardless of how Trump describes the company in the future, we should continue to mistrust” Huawei. Fish said, “After a June 29 meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Japan, President Trump announced the loosening of U.S. government restrictions on Huawei. But a temporary truce in the trade war between the United States and China doesn’t reduce the national security risk Huawei poses.” According to Fish, there are several “reasons Huawei...jeopardizes American national security.” Fish said, “The U.S. government has long accused Huawei of deep ties to the Chinese government and the military, and Huawei has long denied or downplayed those ties.” Fish wrote, “The existence of the ties are not as worrying as the lengths Huawei and Beijing go to keep them secret.”
Lawmakers Seek To Prohibit US Military From Buying Chinese-Made UAVs
The Wall Street Journal (7/6, Ferek, Subscription Publication) reported that Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) and other lawmakers are seeking to bar the US military from buying Chinese-made UAVs. The lawmakers are concerned about possible Chinese spying, as well as potential software flaws that could leave the UAVs vulnerable to hackers. The measure potentially would benefit US UAV manufacturers.
Engineering and Public Policy
Thousands Without Power After Second Southern California Earthquake In Two Days
The Los Angeles Times (7/5, Reyes-Velarde, Diaz, Del Rio, Vives) reports a 7.1 magnitude earthquake that hit Southern California Friday night “caused several fires, according to emergency officials, but the extent of the damage remains unclear.” Around 3,000 Ridgecrest-area residents “were without power following the earthquake, according to Southern California Edison.”
The Washington Post (7/6, Epstein, Cha) reports that “service had been restored to nearly all customers, Southern California Edison spokeswoman Sally Jeun said Saturday.” The Los Angeles Times (7/6, Reyes-Velarde, Diaz, Xia, Esquivel, Lin) adds that “the Los Angeles Fire Department said no major infrastructure damages were reported.” KGO-TV San Francisco (7/7) reports on its website that, as of Sunday, “power outages have been reported in Kern, Inyo and San Bernardino counties, according to Southern California Edison,” and “about 13,000 people have no electricity in the Ridgecrest area.”
Chao: “Consumer Acceptance Will Be The Constraint” To Growth Of Autonomous-Vehicle Industry
KWQC-TV Davenport, IA (7/6, 6:08 a.m. CDT), WJHG-TV Panama City, FL (7/6, 10:17 p.m. CDT), and KWCH-TV Wichita, KS (7/6, 8:50 a.m. CDT) were among the outlets continuing to broadcast the story on “the bumpy road ahead for normalizing” autonomous-vehicle technology. The broadcasts reported Transportation Secretary Chao says to companies developing these technologies, “Consumer acceptance will be the constraint to your growth,” particularly because of concerns over safety.
Louisiana Laws Governing Autonomous Vehicles To Take Effect Next Month
The AP (7/6, Deslatte) reported that while “significant use” of autonomous vehicles “may be years away,” Louisiana lawmakers have drafted regulations governing such vehicles that will “take effect Aug. 1, recently signed by Gov. John Bel Edwards.”
Energy Department Announces New Funding For Solar Projects
CleanTechnica (7/5, Casey) reported the DOE “just announced another round of funding aimed at driving the cost of solar energy down,” a departure “from the rosy future for coal painted by President Trump just a short while ago.” CleanTechnica calls the $3.2 million Technology Commercialization Fund investment “the latest in a rather aggressive series of renewable energy initiatives” as “pressure from US consumers” pushes businesses onto “the solar energy bandwagon.” Similarly, “top players in the financial sector are beginning to shed coal investments in favor of renewable energy,” per CleanTechnica, while “employment in the renewable energy sector is growing.”
Iowa Solar Company Stymied In Wisconsin Utility Battle
The AP (7/7, Whites) reports solar energy is “at the center of an energy turf war in Wisconsin” as Iowa-based Eagle Point Solar “is suing the public utility, We Energies, for refusing to connect a series of solar arrays to each other,” while We Energies “says it is simply following the law” with “claims Eagle Point would essentially be selling electricity to the city within We Energies’ service area, which...would be illegal.” The AP says Eagle Point has “also sued the Public Service Commission” over failure to “take up its complaint against We Energies...essentially ducking the bigger question of to what extent utilities in Wisconsin can control the provision of solar energy.” According to the AP, “Advocates say a ruling in favor of Eagle Point could open the door for other such solar projects.”
More States Increasing Renewable Goals
The Houston Chronicle (7/4, Sixel) reported New Mexico, Washington, Nevada, and Maryland are growing “their goals for expanding renewable energy this year,” joining a trend “driving the development of renewables nationwide, accounting for about half the growth in clean energy nationwide, according to the National Council of State Legislatures.” The Chronicle said the state-based movement “reflects a growing public concern about rising global temperatures, lower costs to develop wind and solar farms, and the prospect of economic development.” According to the Chronicle, Texas’ 26,045 megawatts of renewable energy generated in 2017 was “more than two and one-half times” its 2025 goal, which “reflects the abundance of wind and its value as a low-cost power source in a state that rewards low-cost producers.”
Washington Program Introduces Students To Health Sciences
The AP (7/7, Dreher) reports that “23 high school students from predominantly small towns across” Washington “came to Spokane for a weeklong camp called the Dare to Dream Health Sciences Academy.” The program “counts as high school credit due to the intensive work the students must do.” The AP says that Washington’s Dare to Dream academies “are open to students who qualify for the federally funded Migrant Education Program.”
Analysis: Schools Struggle To Teach About Global Warming Amid Political Tensions
The Hechinger Report (7/6) wrote that “schools across the United States are wrestling with how to incorporate the study of climate change into the classroom as its proximity and perils grow ever more apparent.” The Hechinger Report said that “according to a recent NPR/Ipsos poll, 86 percent of teachers and more than 80 percent of parents say the subject should be taught in school,” but “survey results in 2016 showed that while three-quarters of science teachers said they included lessons about climate change, they devoted little time to it and faced an array of obstacles.” The Hechinger Report said, “The science behind climate change is complicated and evolving, and most teachers aren’t prepared to teach it well,” especially amid a political climate in which parents, external groups, and legislators may offer direct opposition.
Pasadena School Offers Model For Education For “Gifted” Students
Washington Post (7/5) education columnist Jay Mathews wrote, “Two years ago, I encountered an accelerated math class at a public school in Pasadena, Calif., that I found hard to believe. Six eighth-graders...were taking Advanced Placement Calculus BC, a course so difficult fewer than 5 percent of high school seniors ever try it.” Mathews wrote, “Since my first visit to the Pasadena program, it has spread to four schools in that district, with 200 students in grades six through 10 taking extremely accelerated math.” Mathews concluded, “Parents of gifted children in the rest of the country know aggressive acceleration complicates school scheduling and takes administrators out of their comfort zones,” but “they still wonder why their kids can’t get what so many kids in Pasadena are getting.”
Friday's Lead Stories
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