How army of drones and robots could make Leeds the world’s first self-repairing city

Leeds could become the first ‘self-repairing city’ in the world by 2035 as robotics engineers work on developing drones that can prevent potholes.

Chris Burn reports. Leeds, 2035. Moments after scanning a city road and identifying a crack in the surface around the size of a 50p piece on a night-time patrol, a drone navigates itself down to the site of the problem, lands and fills in the defect using a 3D asphalt printer. What could have eventually developed into a serious pothole is fixed instantly and the drone flies off to search for its next assignment.

Professor Rob Richardson, from The School of Mechanical Engineering, at University of Leeds, along with his team are pioneering the use of robotic drone technology to repair potholes in the future as part of a Government-funded project called ‘Self Repairing Cities’.

It is a scenario that, despite the increasing prominence of drones in daily life, still sounds like science-fiction. But for the past three years, a team of robotics engineers at the University of Leeds’s School of Mechanical Engineering have been making considerable progress on turning the concept into a reality as they work on a multi-million pound, Government-supported project to turn potholes into a thing of the past.

Like almost every city and town in the country, Leeds has a considerable pothole problem – with over 10,000 reported to the council by members of the public between 2014 and 2017. But the city could soon be leading the way globally in dealing with the problem, as well as deploying drones to repair street lights and sending hybrid robots to live in utility pipes which they continually inspect, monitor and repair when necessary. It is all part of a wider scientific ambition called ‘Self-Repairing Cities’ that has the ambitious aim of ensuring there is no disruption from streetworks in UK cities by 2050.

The vision for the project states: “With the aid of Leeds City Council, we want to make Leeds the first city in the world that is fully maintained autonomously by 2035.” Professor Rob Richardson, operational director for the robotics element of the project, says despite the major changes potentially on the horizon, it should not mean drones constantly buzzing over everyone’s heads. “We see them as being like urban foxes,” he explains. “There are not going to be drones over your head constantly. You might see them in particular times of day in particular places but you won’t see them all the time. It wouldn’t be invasive.” The drones could be in operation in Leeds by 2035.

The five-year project, officially called ‘Balancing the Impact of City Infrastructure Engineering on Natural Systems Using Robots’, started back in January 2016 after £4.2m of funding was secured from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. It was one of seven ‘Engineering Grand Challenges’ awarded money by the agency to provide innovative solutions to issues such as tackling air pollution.

The Leeds scheme is also being supported by researchers from the universities Birmingham, Southampton and University College London, with project partners including Leeds Council, Balfour Beatty, the National Grid and Yorkshire Water. One of the main achievements of the projects to date has been combined work by the UCL and Leeds teams on developing 3D asphalt printing technology – which Richardson describes as a “world-first” – that can be used by the drones.

Work is now taking place on developing a scanning and decision-making system for such drones. Richardson says there are other possibilities for identifying small cracks in the road surface, such as through self-driving cars, buses and bin lorries that would have scanners attached to them as they went about their normal operations in ‘smart cities’ that use electronically-collected data to manage resources such as traffic lights effectively. The system would also allow for temporary road closures if necessary when drones are working on repairs. The investment of public money is dwarfed by the amounts currently spent on dealing with potholes alone.

In last October’s Budget, Chancellor Philip Hammond assigned an extra £420m to local councils for tackling potholes on top of an existing fund of £300m, while the annual cost of resurfacing roads in the UK is estimated to be more than £1bn. Richardson says the potential benefits go beyond immediate financial implications. “Right now, if you have got a bad pothole, you need people, big vehicles and disruption through closing the road and causing pollution to get rid of it,” he explains. “We want to change that and repair things before they become potholes.” Richardson adds the current costs for repairing potholes are difficult to estimate. “You can look at the cost of a person and the hours they work to do it. But the real cost is if there are not prompt repairs, roads gets further damaged.

If you have to close roads for long periods of time, congestion and pollution builds up. There are wider costs far more than a worker’s hourly rate. Our vision is by 2035 to have this kind of technology in a city, with potentially Leeds being the first one. Our grand vision is by 2050 that the whole of the UK will have self-repairing cities. At the end of the five years we want to show what can be done.” How Leeds could become world’s first city to use drones to prevent potholes While such changes may make life better for drivers and council budgets, there would obviously be an impact on employment as technology may make many jobs redundant.

The hope is for a “win-win situation” where better jobs are created, taxpayers’ money is used more efficiently and our air, water and wildlife are protected – but a mid-term report examining the progress of the project to date has suggested it may not be quite so simple. “In the past, every industrial revolution has seen existing jobs become obsolete, labour being replaced with machines, and yet new tasks have emerged that acted as a counterbalance to the displacement of workers,” it says. “Similar to the past, the robotics and AI revolution is set to displace a large proportion of the current workforce. But the concern this time is that if robots/AI can learn most of the new tasks, the creation of new jobs may not be a sufficient counterbalance for the loss of obsolete ones.

With uncertainty writ large over this revolution, it will be the responsibility of the state to safeguard the interest of all members of society and make sure that those who stand to lose the most from impending disruptions do not fall through the cracks.” The major disruption at Gatwick airport around Christmas in which drone sightings grounded about 1,000 flights raised public concerns about the use of the technology.

Leeds and Southampton universities have already been working with the cities of Bradford and Southampton to identify potential challenges and risks and find a safe way of overcoming them. Drones have been used to provide real-time information to firefighters in Bradford to give early warning of structural problems and identify hotspots and people in need of help at incidents.

Richardson says: “Smart cities currently check data and understand people flow. That doesn’t do proactive systems. But we are talking about cities that are able to understand what is happening and be able to react and do things. “All of this stuff is overseen by people, they are systems based on a framework set and regulated by humans. As with all technology, regulations are there for a reason. If it is done correctly, it brings good.” Project achievements growing Achievements of the project so far include creating technology to 3D print asphalt which is tougher than ordinary asphalt and demonstrating that a printer can be attached to a drone, flown to a damage location and operated. Other developments include an inspection robot that can operate autonomously in a one-inch pipe,

with wireless power transfer for charging and the simulation of how cheap ‘disposable’ robots can efficiently locate potholes or other defects in roads. A spokesman said: “The findings will be used to develop the next generation of robots for infrastructure inspection and repair, but with applications in any field that might benefit from the introduction of robotics and autonomous systems.”

Source: Yorkshire Evening Post

 

Co-Star to launch a range of 2.92mm Series K-Connectors

2.9mm ra

Co-Star the Harrogate based ICT company who supply globally are launching a range of 2.92mm K connectors for applications up to 40GHz.

2.92 connectors are also called K connectors. They are a precision connector with high mechanical stability designed tp perform mode free to 40GHz. The interface is similar to an SMA connector, but utilizes an air dielectric and a smaller internal body diameter support for a higher cut off frequency.

The outer conductor measures 2.92mm  with a strong outer body wall compared to dielectric loaded interfaces of comparable size.

2.92mm connectors are mechanically compatible with SMA and 3.5mm connectors, but the male center pin is shortened to allow outer conductor engagement before the center contacts mate, preventing damage to the female contact pins.

2.9mm

Co-Star are developing 2.92mm male and female crimp connectors and a range of adaptors including male to male and male to female.

 

Smart City Connected Roadway Solutions

Iteris and Cisco Partner to Deliver Smart City Connected Roadway Solutions

Launching in Las Vegas, Initiative Seeks to Make Nation’s Roadways Safer and More Efficient

  • Strategic partnership will see integration of Iteris’ video detection platform with Cisco Kinetic’s advanced networking capabilities
  • Collaborative programs will focus on pedestrian safety and connected vehicle applications

SANTA ANA, Calif. – January 14, 2019 – Iteris, Inc. (NASDAQ: ITI), the global leader in applied informatics for transportation and agriculture, today announced a strategic partnership with Cisco that will promote Cisco’s Connected Roadway solution through several initiatives between the two companies.

Iteris and Cisco have deployed an edge-processing internet-of-things (IoT) solution with the City of Las Vegas that will combine data feeds from the Iteris Vantage Next video detection platform with the Cisco Kinetic software solution to analyze multimodal data from vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians for a number of high-value use cases to improve traffic flow and reduce congestion.

Pedestrian safety and connected vehicle applications in particular will be highlighted throughout the collaborative program, which will include a demonstration at the Smart Cities Innovation Accelerator during this week’s The Innovator’s Forum in Las Vegas.

“Las Vegas is renowned for its heavy pedestrian traffic, so we are constantly working to deploy innovative, multimodal technologies to better manage the flow of vehicles and people,” said Michael Sherwood, director of information technologies at the City of Las Vegas. “Iteris’ integration with Cisco’s Connected Roadway solution will produce insights that highlight the advantages video detection and advanced networking can have on a city’s transportation system.”

“We are excited to showcase how seamlessly Iteris’ advanced video detection integrates with Cisco’s industry-leading networking capabilities to ultimately enhance safety and mobility across the nation’s transportation networks,” said Todd Kreter, senior vice president and general manager, Roadway Sensors at Iteris. “Iteris has been a key proponent of connected vehicle integration for many years and this partnership with Cisco is further testament to our dedication to advancing multimodal safety technology throughout our business.”

Additionally, through a broader partnership agreement, Iteris and Cisco will address smart city initiatives through joint sales and co-marketing activities to key accounts across the United States. This will include highlighting the integration of Cisco communication systems into current and future projects, ensuring its mutual customers have the most secure and reliable communication infrastructure for their end-to-end transportation systems. In addition, by integrating Cisco hardware and software at the edge, the Iteris intersection-as-a-service™ offering will be able to support advanced capabilities for edge processing, as well as larger data sets and connected vehicles applications.

Future integration of Iteris video and radar detection sensors with the Cisco Kinetic platform will be showcased at intelligent transportation systems conferences throughout the year, including the upcoming ITS America Annual Meeting in Washington, DC from June 4-7, 2019.

Source: Iteris

How 5G could be monetised for telecom companies

Monetise 5G

A new short report from Matrixx has highlighted the new services telecommunications companies will be able to offer once 5G arrives.

With 5G set to commence its commercial rollout in limited form this year, there have been plenty of predictions concerning the benefits it will bring. Digital commerce platform company Matrixx has provided its own unique perspective on the matter in a report entitled ‘5 Key Opportunities in 5G’.

The report runs through five areas where 5G will present new or enhanced opportunities to the telecommunications companies that Matrixx counts as clients. Those are network slicingsmall cell as a service, smart family, Internet of Things (IoT), and enhanced broadband.

Slicing and small cells

Matrixx’s report then runs through some of the ways telcos will be able to monetise these 5G markets. For example, it mentions how network slicing – the ability to segment parts of a network – will be able to be offered as a service by telecoms companies, offering businesses the ability to run their own virtual networks.

In terms of small cells as a service, the report suggests allowing users to take advantage of small cell networks in, for example, shopping centres or sports venues, for high-bandwidth needs, such as virtual reality. Networks could make money by managing this infrastructure and related services for venues.

Smart family, IoT and enhanced broadband

Under the smart family banner, the Matrixx report points out that telecoms companies will be able to provide a one stop shop service that brings multiple connected home services under one umbrella: VR gaming, home security, remote meter monitoring and more. Having them all handled by one company could appeal to users, and also allow networks to expand their reach (and income potential) beyond just mobile.

For the IoT, the report talks about networks using it as a platform or service, which can be monetised through managed service delivery. With the IoT likely to provide services to millions of users in the near future, that could lead to extensive income potential for networks.

Finally, the report also refers to fresh 5G broadband services, described as ‘broadband+’. These could include ‘bandwidth and service’ or ‘bandwidth and applications’ combinations, such as offering music or video services along with a customer’s broadband. On the business side, 5G broadband could offer pooled bandwidth as part of a network slice, which the user can then define and utilize however they want.

“The days of ‘leading with the network’ are over as 5G, combined with capabilities such as VR, AI and ML, will have a profound impact on the digital user experience,” concludes the Matrixx report. “The complexities, variabilities and scale of that ‘Digital Service Provider’ offering require a fundamental shift and will be the defining approach of this era.”

So in other words 5G will open up many new usage cases and with them many new ways to monetise mobile data. That’s good news not just for networks but also for users, as it incentivises mobile networks to build a strong 5G service. It just requires the networks to seize the opportunities presented to them.

Source: Jon Mundy and James Rogerson- 5g.co.uk

New winner of the Co-Star table football championship

The 2018 Co-Star table football championship sponsored by Terry’s Chocolate Orange was wone by Tim Cosgrove in an intense and pulsating contest.

IMG_0051

Tim topped the table on goal difference with Matt finishing runner up which meant the grand final was again contested by the two bitter rivals. Tim representing Leeds United and Matt  Manchester United. The previous three finals were all won by Matt but Tim edged this years tournament by two games to one.

Tim commented; “It’s great to finally get my hands on the trophy after three previous defeats and even better to beat Matt who was representing Manchester United.  I will think about him when i’m tucking in to my chocolate orange prize over Chrismas! Maybe this is a good omen for Leeds United too who currently top the Championship table and are looking to return to the Premier League and again compete with Manchester United for real”.

A hugely dissapointed Matt refused to comment.

IMG_1078

The final league positions were:

  1.     Tim Cosgrove
  2.      Matt Hancock
  3.      Emily Braithwaite
  4.      Owen Berger
  5.      Laura Cosgrove

 

 

Source: Co-Star

Vodafone using manhole covers to ‘build 5G cities’

Vodafone  manhole

Vodafone is using “yesterday’s infrastructure” to build tomorrow’s smart cities. The operator is installing small antennae within manhole covers, as well as on lamp-posts and phone boxes.

The aim is to boost speed and extend coverage of today’s 4G networks in high-traffic areas such as busy roads, town centres and shopping malls. Vodafone says the tech can then be easily upgraded to make way for 5G.

Another benefit, the company says, is that installing equipment on manhole covers causes minimal disruption for businesses and citizens – no construction work or street closures are required. Further, the landscape is not altered, making the antennae instalments ideal for busy public spaces.

In time for New Year

Vodafone has installed two types of connected manhole covers at its headquarters in Newbury. One is purpose-built and the other uses existing manhole covers. The antennae-equipped manhole covers can carry calls and internet access over 200 metres using only a small amount of power.

Further, Vodafone plans to roll 4G out beneath its own manhole covers, which it inherited through the acquisition of Cable & Wireless Worldwide in 2012 as well as those of utility providers across the UK.

Vodafone is also fitting 4G antennae to traditional phone boxes along Edinburgh’s Princes Street – it says these will be in place ahead of the New Year’s Even Hogmanay celebrations.

The company says phone boxes are ideal homes for antennae in places where mobile masts would be hard to install due to the need for a power supply and fibre optic cable connections.

Looking ahead to 5G

The antennae are connected using Vodafone’s high-speed fibre converged network.

A statement on the initiative from Vodafone said: “These fibre-connected 5G-enabled small antennae are the foundation on which connected smart cities will be built.”

There are high hopes for 5G to advance smart cities – for example, enabling connected traffic lights which automatically re-route traffic away from congested areas and allowing city councils to monitor their infrastructure intelligently and deploy predictive or on-demand maintenance.

Vodafone UK Chief Executive Nick Jeffery said: “We are committed to providing customers with the best network possible by drawing on our strengths in innovation and strong UK heritage. It is great to be able to use yesterday’s infrastructure – from phone boxes to manhole covers – to deliver the services of tomorrow.  This is one of the ways we are extending our 4G services to areas other networks cannot reach, and getting ready for 5G.”

Source: Sarah Wray-5g.co.uk

 

Sierra Wireless solar powered satellite asset tracking service enables reliable disaster response

 Sierra Wireless’ managed asset tracking service uses Globalstar’s SmartOne Solar device to provide satellite connectivity when cellular service is unavailable, enabling emergency response agencies to connect, track and manage thousands of relief assets when it matters most

Sierra Wireless, the leading provider of fully integrated device-to-cloud solutions for the Internet of Things (IoT), today announced the company has added solar power to its satellite-enabled asset tracking managed service, which allows agencies to connect, track and manage thousands of relief assets and respond to emergencies more effectively. The company is using Globalstar, Inc.’s (NYSE American: GSAT) SmartOne Solar device to extend battery power and provide reliable satellite connectivity to ensure devices remain online and available when it matters most.

SmartOneSolar_front

Following a natural disaster, like a hurricane or forest fire, it’s imperative that assets such as emergency equipment, temporary trailers for housing, and food and clean water supplies be deployed quickly to the right locations. When power and cellular networks are out of service, Sierra Wireless’ managed satellite asset tracking service with Globalstar’s SmartOne Solar device provides the reliability that agencies need to accurately deploy resources. Globalstar’s solar-powered device can run for up to 10 years on battery power, ensuring that agencies stay connected to assets in-motion.

“With Sierra Wireless’ managed asset tracking service, our customers can track high-value assets that are critical to effective, life-saving disaster responses,” said Marc Overton, Senior Vice President and General Manager, IoT Services, Sierra Wireless. “When cellular service is unavailable, satellite asset tracking gives agencies insight into the status of mission-critical aid. Our service provides the reliable, secure connectivity needed to track and control assets sent into disaster zones.”

Using Sierra Wireless’ managed asset tracking service, with mapping and management software designed specifically for mission-critical situations, government agencies can monitor assets in chaotic environments and ensure that emergency responders get the tools they need to save lives and limit damage. The managed service combines the SmartOne Solar device with software and resilient network connectivity to provide an off-the-shelf, market-ready service. Instead of spending time searching for vendors and building their own solution, Sierra Wireless helps customers deploy quickly with low up-front costs.

The solution also features Bluetooth capabilities, which make it easier to update the device remotely in the field, saving time and money. Loss prevention features include geofencing, GPS location data and theft recovery modes, all of which improve visibility of expensive equipment and supplies while in remote locations around the world.

“Government agencies and organizations need dependable, up-to-date information to make informed decisions, especially when lost or delayed emergency response assets can mean endangering lives or spending tens of thousands of dollars replacing lost equipment,” said David Kagan, CEO, Globalstar. “The affordable SmartOne Solar device delivers dependable, low-latency, high-quality connectivity when it’s needed most, whether you’re tracking emergency supplies or crisis support vehicles.”

Co-Star supply the full range of Sierra Wirless products. Please call us on: +44 (0) 1423 340066 or e-mail: sales@co-star.co.uk for more informatin.

Chinese space startup Commsat launches seven mini-satellites


[Photo/People’s Daily app]

Seven mini-satellites mostly designed and assembled by a Chinese space startup, Commsat Technology Development Co, blasted off on Friday afternoon, which its designers say will attempt to test the “internet of things” technology in fulfilling tasks such as tracing cargo ships and monitoring endangered wildlife.

The satellites were launched atop a Long March 2D carrier rocket from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwestern China, the Beijing-based company said.

The main satellite, Ladybeetle I, is equipped with five high-definition cameras and a LED screen, it said.

The cameras on the 91.85-kilogram satellite is expected to take pictures of the outer space, which could be stitched together as a panorama, in the hope to provide a better spacewalk experience for virtual reality glass users, according to Xu Jiakang, one of the satellite’s chief designers.

The satellite could also allow people on earth to take selfies against the backdrop of mesmerizing views of the outer space, he added. “We could upload one’s portrait onto the screen, and we could use the cameras on the satellite to take photos of the screen in the space.”

Xie Tao, founder and CEO of Commsat, said the satellites are the first step in their ambitious plan to place a total of 72 such satellites into orbit by 2022. And the seven Ladybeetle satellites would mainly test the technology of internet of things.

Peng Yuanyuan, Commsat’s co-founder, said another four satellites are expected to orbit the earth as of end of 2019, and alongside the Ladybeetle satellites, they could provide commercial services, including monitoring overseas purchases.

Founded in 2015, Commat has been an innovator of the use of mini-satellites. In February, the tech company launched a CubeSat – Young Pioneer I – that enabled students to track and help control the spacecraft from the ground stations build in schools nationwide.

Source: LI LEI China Daily

London AI Startups Raised More Cash in 8 Months of 2018 Than All of 2017

02 launches Massive MIMO 5G pilot in London

O2 massive mimo

02 and Nokia are rolling out two Massive MIMO (multiple input-multiple output) trials in the King’s Cross and Marble Arch areas of London. They say this work will pave the way for 5G deployment across the capital.

Massive MIMO makes mobile networks more efficient by allowing multiple beams of data to be transmitted from the antennas to the device. This boosts speed and capacity.

The locations have been specifically chosen as they have high levels of data traffic. 02 plans to boost coverage in these areas and assess the technology for roll-out elsewhere.

Over 95 million people pass through the King’s Cross/St Pancras each year and more than 14 million people travelled through Marble Arch in 2017.

The pilot will deploy Nokia’s Massive MIMO technology as well as the 2.3GHz spectrum that O2 won in Ofcom’s auction earlier this year. O2 was the only UK network to secure extra 2.3GHz capacity.

Laying 5G’s foundations

02 says that as well as boosting capacity in these areas today, the trial will also lay important foundations for 5G.

Massive MIMO technology is expected to play a crucial role in meeting the increased data demand that 5G will drive. Ofcom’s 2018 Communications Market report finds that the average user consumes 1.9 GB  of data per month. Earlier this year, GiffGaff predicted that the average user will consume 98.34GB per month by 2025.

Brendan O’Reilly, CTO, Telefonica UK, said: “We recognise that customers’ need for mobile data in London and other urban areas continues to grow at a rapid pace. This is why we are working with Nokia to trial Massive MIMO and to explore the opportunities to provide the increased capacity and denser coverage for our customers, in the areas they need it most.”

Source: Sarah Wray-www.5g.co.uk