|Good morning || November 6, 2019|
Leading the News
Kia Unveils Electric SUV Concept With Glass Roof, LiDAR Sensors Providing Level 4 Autonomous Driving Features
SlashGear (11/5, McGlaun) reports that at the 2019 China International Import Expo, Kia has unveiled the Futuron Concept that the automaker says hints at “the switched-on, electric nature of future SUV designs from the brand.” According to SlashGear, “The concept has a lightweight SUV coupe body that has fully-electric all-wheel-drive powertrain.” In terms of design, the body of the Futuron concept “has a diamond-shaped panoramic glasshouse on top that Kia says has the ‘best traditions’ of UFO and flying saucer design. The roof also has a network of LiDAR sensors that provide Level 4 autonomous driving features.”
Motor Trend (11/5) reports Kia’s concept “sports some wild design cues that complement its clean surfacing.” For instance, embedded in the front faux grille “are multiple illuminated inlets that open to reveal LED light clusters; Kia says this design is inspired by the scaled armor that adorns Chinese dragons.” Those “inlets are also seen at the rear flanking a new Kia logo that first appeared on the Imagine Concept.” Meanwhile, “The greenhouse is made out of glass, giving passengers a 360-degree view of their surroundings and bringing to mind the design of flying saucers, Kia says.” Motor Trends adds, “Two-piece scissor doors complete the Kia Futuron Concept’s sci-fi-inspired looks.”
Roadshow (11/5, Szymkowski) reports Kia is calling the exterior LED light clusters “Star Cloud.” Roadshow says, “That same Star Cloud design finds its way inside, too, on the doors for an elegant ambient lighting organization.” The concept’s “one-piece infotainment and cockpit area runs on artificial intelligence, and again, the Star Cloud look extends to the front of the cabin as its cockpit arcs toward the road ahead.”
University Of Northern Alabama Receives $650K Grant For STEM Education
The Florence (AL) Times Daily (11/5, Hollingsworth) reports that a National Science Foundation grant of “nearly” $650,000 “is aiming to help rural high school students launch their STEM education at the University of North Alabama in 2020.” Under the “STEM Scholars” program, 18 students “will each receive about $25,000 in scholarship funds over four years at UNA.” STEM Scholars “will also receive intensive academic advising, will be mentored by a faculty member on a research project, and become part of a cohort with other students.”
Study: Few Top Public University Affordable For Low-Income Students
NPR (11/5, Marshall) reports that an Institute for Higher Education Policy report found that “only four public flagship universities are affordable for students from low-income families.” Many of these top public universities were built on federal land grants, “and these schools aren’t living up to their responsibility to remain affordable, says Mamie Voight, one of the study’s authors from IHEP.” The lack of affordability comes from a number of factors, including state cuts to higher education during the Great Recession and federal Pell grants not keeping pace with increasing college costs. Furthermore, half of the “10 most affordable flagships in the study...had ‘extraordinarily low enrollment rates’ of low-income students,” which the report speculated could be due to “recruitment priorities and practices at the institutions,” in NRP’s words.
Free Webinar on Increasing URM Recruitment and Retention in the Sciences
Looking to increase recruitment and retention of underrepresented minorities (URM) at your institution? Tune in Dec. 10 at 1:00 PM, ET for a free webinar featuring the NSF GOLD-supported GeoDES and Sparks for Change project teams, who will share insights from their innovative professional development projects developed to increase the engagement, recruitment, and retention of URM faculty in the sciences. Sign up today: http://bit.ly/31nQjPL
Submit an idea to NSF's Project Pitch
America’s Seed Fund, powered by NSF, believes in the power of groundbreaking and technically risky ideas for massive impact. They specialize in funding startups and small businesses with ideas -- still in the pre-validation phase -- that want to build a prototype/proof-of-concept. Each startup can get up to $1.5 million (over 36+ months) to aid in conducting research and development. If you have an idea, submit a Project Pitch to see if it’s a good fit.
Former ASEE Member Wins Nobel
ASEE is happy to claim Nobel Prize winner John Goodenough as a former member, proof that educators and researchers find value in being an ASEE member.
Research and Development
ASU Students Partner With NASA For CubeSat Launch
KTAR-FM Glendale, AZ (11/5) reports on that on Saturday at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, nine Arizona State University students “watched four years of their work ascend into space” as “one of seven so-called CubeSats that were packed into the Cygnus spacecraft as part of a resupply mission to the International Space Station.” KTAR says, “All seven of the microsatellites launched Saturday were produced by student teams at schools across the U.S.” Those projects – “along with supplies, equipment and other experiments on the resupply mission” – “docked with the space station Monday.” The ASU project is a part of NASA’s CubeSat Launch initiative.
ASU Researchers Show Stress, Corrosion May Accelerate Alloy Cracking
The Control Engineering (10/26, Vavra) reports that Arizona State University researchers have found that cracking in alloys “proceeds more quickly than they thought” as “stress can inject a crack far into the un-corroded region.” The ASU team “studied a form of corrosion called intergranular stress-corrosion cracking (IGSCC),” which is “caused by environmental conditions” and can lead “to the degradation of materials often used in bridges, airplanes, and power-generating stations.” The new research “shows the structure that forms where tiny grains of two metals meet in an alloy can lead to cracks in an area previously unaffected by corrosion.” Control Engineering says this insight “is critical to designing new alloys that deter stress corrosion-induced failures and to better assess the lifetime of existing alloys in service.”
NDSU Grad Students Explore Next-Gen Bioplastics
The Faribault (MN) Daily News (11/5, News) reports that graduate student researchers from North Dakota State University are currently testing “the strength of new bioplastics – plastics made out of plant material, like wheat germ, corn, soybeans and plant-based polymers.” The research effort, known as the Center for Bioplastics and Biocomposites, “is based at NDSU but happening in conjunction with three other universities: Iowa State, the University of Georgia and the University of Washington.” The Daily News says the center “is funded by the National Science Foundation, with help from several major U.S. companies, which also help researchers decide which projects move forward.”
Rutgers’ Protein Data Bank Gets $34.5 Million In Federal Grants
Tap Into New Jersey (11/5) reports that the RCSB Protein Data Bank at Rutgers University-New Brunswick “has been awarded $34.5 million in grants over five years from three U.S. government agencies.” The funding “covers ongoing operations and will expand the reach of the world’s only open-access, digital data resource for the 3D biomolecular structures of life.” The data bank “plans to use the increased funding to enhance services available to researchers, academic institutions, for-profit companies and the public.” Tap Into New Jersey says the operating grants “come from the National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Energy, and the National Cancer Institute, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and National Institute of General Medical Sciences within the National Institutes of Health.”
Worcester Polytechnic Institute Receives $2.5 Million NSF Grant For Robotic Recycling Project
The Worcester (MA) Business Journal (11/5) reports that a Worcester Polytechnic Institute robotics scientist “will lead a team of researchers in a project to help recycling centers better sort materials.” The project “has received $2.5 million from the National Science Foundation” and “is being led by Berk Calli, assistant professor in the computer science department and robotics engineering program at WPI.” The researchers “hope to develop object-detection technologies, robotic manipulation algorithms, and robotic arms and effectors to help sort waste.”
UPS Flight Forward Completes First Drone Delivery Of Prescription Drugs In North Carolina
Reuters (11/5, Baertlein) reports United Parcel Service Flight Forward drones “have flown prescription medications to the front lawn of a private home and to a retirement center, the UPS unit’s first revenue-generating deliveries for drugstore chain CVS Health Corp.” Flight Forward’s “maiden delivery flight on Friday in Cary, North Carolina, beat rivals in one phase of the race for the nascent market.” The packages, “roughly the size of small shoeboxes, were lowered from drones hovering at an altitude of about 20 feet.” UPS and CVS “said on Tuesday the deliveries were the first of their kind under an program approved by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).” Regulators “are still hammering out rules for how the unmanned winged vehicles will operate in U.S. airspace and guidelines are expected in 2021.” CVS president Kevin Hourican said, “We see big potential in drone delivery in rural communities where life-saving medications are needed and consumers at times cannot conveniently access one of our stores.”
The Raleigh (NC) News & Observer (11/5) reports UPS Advance Technology Group VP Bala Ganesh said, “This could be a life-changing event, especially for elderly or sick people who cannot leave their home to go pick up a prescription from a store. ... This is going to change the way care is provided to these patients as we move forward.”
Bloomberg (11/5, Black) reports the drone “flew autonomously while monitored by a remote pilot and lowered the packages by a winch as it hovered about 20 feet above the homes, UPS said in a statement Tuesday.” UPS Chief Executive Officer David Abney “is betting that drone deliveries will grow quickly, especially in rural areas, and investing to keep the courier competitive with Amazon.com Inc., Alphabet Inc. and FedEx Corp.”
Bipartisan Senate Bill Would Expand Cybersecurity Workforce
The Hill (11/5, Rodrigo) reports a bipartisan group of four members of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee “introduced a bill Tuesday to expand America’s cybersecurity workforce. The Harvesting American Cybersecurity Knowledge through Education Act would enhance existing science education and cybersecurity programs in the National Institute of Standards and Technology, National Science Foundation, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and Department of Transportation.”
Mobileye, Nio Partner On Self-Driving Consumer Passenger Cars In China
TechCrunch (11/5, Korosec) reports, “Mobileye, the Israeli-based automotive sensor company acquired by Intel in 2017 for $15.3 billion, is partnering with Chinese electric car startup Nio to develop autonomous vehicles that consumers can buy.” Under what the companies describe as a “strategic collaboration,” Nio “will engineer and manufacture a self-driving system designed by Mobileye. The self-driving system will target consumer autonomy – meaning cars people can buy – a departure from the traditional industry approach of developing autonomous vehicles just for ride-hailing services.” According to TechCrunch, “The self-driving system will be based on Mobileye’s Level 4 AV kit and be engineered for automotive qualification standards, quality, cost and scale, the companies said in a joint statement.”
Reuters (11/5, Bellon) reports, “The companies plan an initial release in China beginning in 2022, Mobileye President and Chief Executive Officer Amnon Shashua told Reuters in an interview on Monday.” Shashua stated, “The deal with Nio will also enable us to harvest data in compliance with Chinese regulations and improve mapping to support autonomous driving.” Shashua “added that a rollout in China was more efficient as the regulatory environment was centralized and the Chinese government was working on standardizing Mobileye’s safety model for self-driving cars into law.”
VentureBeat (11/5, Wiggers) reports Shashua “noted that the agreement marks the first time a large-scale automaker partner is supplying vehicles to Mobileye.” The CEO said, “We value the opportunity to bring greater road safety to China and other markets through our efforts and look forward to NIO’s support as Mobileye builds a transformational mobility service across the globe.”
Business Insider (11/5, Debord) reports Mobileye on Tuesday “revealed a 20% year-over-year revenue increase, bolstered by the company’s driver-assist technologies, as well as [the] deal with China’s NIO.”
Scientists In Zanzibar Use Drones As New Tool To Fight Malaria
Reuters (11/5, Waita) reports that scientists “seeking a breakthrough in the fight against malaria have used drones to spray rice fields in Zanzibar – not with traditional pesticides but with a thin, non-toxic film.” The fields “are typical breeding grounds for the anopheles mosquito – the type that transmits malaria, which the United Nations says kills a young child every minute and causes 75 percent of all under five deaths.”
The AP (11/5, Sultan) reports the “spraying by drones is a test to see if it will help the government of Zanzibar reach its goal of eliminating malaria on the archipelago by 2023, according to the strategic plan adopted by Zanzibar Malaria Elimination Program.” The drone spraying “is a relatively inexpensive way to stop the mosquitoes from reproducing, said Bart Knols, a medical entomologist and lead researcher of the program.”
Engineering and Public Policy
NTSB: Self-Driving Uber Vehicles Had 37 Crashes, Couldn’t Spot Jaywalkers
Reuters (11/5, Shepardson) reports the National Transportation Safety Board released its findings on an Uber self-driving vehicle accident that resulted in the death of Elaine Herzberg, an Arizona woman, in March 2018. Reuters reports the vehicle failed to correctly identify the woman as a pedestrian crossing the street. The NTSB said, “The system design did not include a consideration for jaywalking pedestrians.” The Uber vehicle identified the bicycle “as an eminent collision” 1.2 seconds before the crash, but the computer “initiated a one-second delay of planned braking while the vehicle calculated an alternative path or the safety driver could take over.” The NTSB also found two incidents in which “Uber test vehicles may not have identified roadway hazards,” including an Uber vehicle striking “a bent bicycle lane post that partially occupied the test vehicle’s lane of travel” and a situation where the test-driver had to take control of the vehicle “to avoid a rapidly approaching vehicle that entered its lane of travel.” Reuters says Uber vehicles were involved in 37 collisions between September 2016 and March 2018 while in autonomous mode, “including 33 that involved another vehicle striking test vehicles.”
The Washington (DC) Post (11/5, Laris) reports the NTSB determined that Uber’s automated driving system “never classified” Herzberg “as a pedestrian – or predicted correctly her goal as a jaywalking pedestrian or a cyclist” – because she was not in an area with a crosswalk, and according to the NTSB, the “system design did not include a consideration for jaywalking pedestrians.” The NTSB found that the vehicle had trouble classifying the pedestrian since the vehicle was programmed to assume objects classified as “other” would stay stationary. The NTSB said of Uber’s system, “Unless that location is directly on the path of the automated vehicle, that object is not considered as a possible obstacle.” The NTSB said testing conducted by Volvo found that the vehicle’s built-in system, which Uber had disabled, would have resulted in no collision 17 out of 20 times, with the remainder of the incidents involving an impact at speeds lower than 10 miles-per-hour.
Bloomberg (11/5, Beene, Levin) reports Uber has “made extensive changes to its self-driving system after several reviews of its operation and findings by NTSB investigators.” The company “told the NTSB that the new software would have been able to correctly identify Herzberg and triggered controlled braking to avoid her more than 4 seconds before the original impact, the NTSB said.” Bloomberg adds that the safety driver in the Uber vehicle was watching a video on her phone at the time of the crash, which occurred “less than five months” after Uber reduced the number of safety drivers assigned to each car from two to one. Mashable (11/5, Lekach) reports an Uber spokesperson said, “We regret the March 2018 crash involving one of our self-driving vehicles that took Elaine Herzberg’s life. In the wake of this tragedy, the team at Uber ATG has adopted critical program improvements to further prioritize safety.”
STEM Off-Shoots Examined
STEM.org Founder Andrew B. Raupp, in a blog on Forbes (11/5), discusses what is encompassed in STEM and the various off-shoots, such as STEAM, and the STEM Without Screens movement. Raupp concludes, “While the various dimensions of the STEM movement can feel complicated, they also demonstrate how the basics of science, technology, engineering and math are integrally connected to a whole range of other subjects.”
Tuesday's Lead Stories
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