Finnish businesses and local government have a bold plan. They want to build the smartest road in the world.
It will use 5G technology and cover a 31km (19-mile) stretch of Route 51, between the towns of Siuntio and Karjaa in Inkoo municipality, 54km (34 miles) west of Helsinki on the south coast of Finland.
Must read: Smart Cities Special Feature | Industrial IoT Special Feature
The municipality will be working in partnership with Karis Telefon and TammisaarenEnergia, with Nokia providing the 5G technology in the form of smart light poles.
Developed as part of its LuxTurrim5G project, each LED-light pole can be equipped with base stations and antennas that function together to create a 5G network. The proposed smart road will have a total of 620 such light poles, although they will only be connected to the network in stages.
Also: Download the report as a PDF TechRepublic
Robert Nyman, the mayor of Inkoo, is keen to stress that the project is still in its infancy, and they “don’t yet have a concrete plan” for its implementation. This vagueness is partly because it is the state — rather than the municipality — that will make the final decision on the main road’s future development.
It is also because there is no funding yet in place for the project, although Nyman estimates that the basic infrastructure would cost only €2m ($2.26m). One promising source of financial support is Business Finland, whose Smart Mobility fund for Finnish businesses transforming the transport sector totals €50m ($57m).
If the project gets the green light, the digitalized main road will allow for the testing of self-driving cars through the Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything platform (C-V2X) installed in the light poles.
Also: Tech and the future of transportation
This technology keeps automated vehicles updated on the road’s traffic flows and driving conditions, while their communications system and sensors would be able to connect to those of other vehicles and infrastructure to ensure a safe passage along the smart road.
Much of the information and functionality of C-V2X will, of course, help human drivers travel more safely, too.
Improving safety is particularly important for Route 51. As one of the main arteries from Helsinki to the west, it falls into the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency’s highest category for accident density.
The proposed smart road is also a hotspot for moose collisions. Between 2012 and 2015, there was an average of 17 collisions — and one fatality — a year. With the introduction of 5G technology, big-animal alerts would warn road users of the creatures’ presence, thereby reducing moose-human incidents.
While Route 51 remains a future project, other smart-road tests in Finland are either ongoing or on the more-immediate horizon.
Most closely connected to Route 51 is the LuxTurrim5G project’s planned three-month trial of its smart light poles this summer. They will be used to support a self-driving bus service on the 1km route between Kera train station and Nokia’s head office. This would be the first 5G smart road in Finland.
The light poles will have to be erected at 50-meter (164ft) intervals due to the high frequency and limited signal strength of the 5G small cells they contain.
Nokia reckons this method of network provision is the most viable solution for digital cities, since a fast-growing number of digital services would soon overload 5G mobile networks operating at frequencies lower than 6GHz.
Finland’s first smart road was established back in November 2017, when a 10km stretch of Route 21 was equipped with sensors and designated the Aurora public test ecosystem.
Also: The new commute: How driverless cars, hyperloop, and drones will change our travel plans TechRepublic | Download the PDF version
This road is located in the very north of Finland, in Muonio, near the border with Norway. On the Norwegian side, there is a sister stretch of smart road, the Borealis to Finland’s Aurora.
As with much cutting-edge technology, Finland is presented in this context as an uncommonly accommodating hostile environment.
The country’s legislation already permits the presence of self-driving cars on public roads, but its climate also challenges their nascent technology with snow, ice and freezing temperatures.
Also: Here’s how C-V2X can change driving, smart cities
Despite these adverse conditions, the smart road has witnessed some notable successes in the first year or so of its operation.
According to Reija Viinanen, director of Aurora Collaboration: “Sensible 4 and VTT Martti have tested snowtonomous-driving technology on the intelligent road. They have tackled freezing fog, freezing temperatures and extreme conditions, while car makers and technology companies are struggling with rain in California.”
Following restructuring of Finland’s traffic and transport organizations at the turn of the year, there is now discussion about Aurora becoming a private company, although Viinanen stresses that its testing operations are continuing unabated.
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Hertz massive Tesla Model 3 EV order sends interest rocketing
Hertz today made a whopper of an announcement, revealing that it will be ordering 100,000 Teslas over the next year and adding those EVs to its fleet. Not only that, but Hertz will also install several thousand chargers at its network of locations around the US and Europe. With this move, Hertz says that it will “offer the largest EV rental fleet in North America and one of the largest in the world.”
Specifically, Hertz said today that it would purchase 100,000 Tesla Model 3s and those cars will start being available at airport and neighborhood locations across the US and Europe in November. At first, Hertz says its EV fleet will only be available in major markets within the US and “select cities” in Europe, but it seems the company is looking to expand availability rather quickly.
By the end of 2022, Hertz says it plans to have these Tesla Model 3s available in 65 markets, expanding further to 100 markets by the end of 2023. In all, Hertz plans to install 3,000 Tesla superchargers at various locations in the US and Europe as well. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this announcement sent Tesla’s stock on something of a surge this morning, but even more important is the impact this could have on the public perception of electric vehicles.
Hertz says that EVs will comprise more than 20% of its global rental fleet when the order is complete. In addition to placing this order, Hertz has also hired NFL star Tom Brady for an ad campaign centered around renting, driving, and charging these Tesla Model 3s. On Hertz’s website, we see that charging will be included in EV rentals, but only for a limited time. Beyond February 1st, 2022, it sounds like renters will have to foot the bill for charging.
It’s an ambitious plan, but in today’s announcement, Hertz cautions that the order of 100,000 Tesla Model 3s may be impacted by factors outside of its control. Specifically, the company is talking about the global semiconductor shortage, which could impact the production of computing hardware for some time to come. In any case, look for the option to rent a Tesla Model 3 to start popping up at Hertz locations next month.
Bently Mulliner to unveil new bespoke collections at the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show
Bentley Mulliner has curated three new bespoke design collections for its American clientele. The Mulliner Nauticus Collection will debut at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show this October 27 to 31, 2021. The Nauticus Collection includes four Continental GT V8 Convertible models dressed in a fancy yachting theme.
The Continental GT Nauticus Collection has Aegean Blue and Ghost White paint with custom 22-inch Aegean Blue polished wheels. Wearing Bentley Mulliner’s carbon fiber Styling Specification, each Nauticus Bentley also gets a carbon front splitter, side skirts, rear spoiler, and rear diffuser. Also, the interior is resplendent in Brunel, Linen, and Portland leather in bespoke color splits, while the center console is home to open-pore chevron light veneers.
“This timeless classic further highlights the infinite possibilities and abilities in which to blend art and technology into a unique emotion and experience,” said Peter Brandt, Holmann Automotive Vice President and General Manager of Bentley Fort Lauderdale. “The individuality and distinctiveness of the Mulliner design aesthetics perfectly align with our pursuit of creating unique customer experiences.”
Meanwhile, Bentley of Manhattan commissioned the Mulliner Skyline Collection for the Flying Spur, Continental GT Convertible, and Bentayga luxury SUV. As expected, the Skyline Collection draws inspiration from the breathtaking skyscrapers of the Big Apple.
All members of the Mulliner Skyline Collection will wear a unique Onyx black paint applied by hand and robots, said Bentley. Other noteworthy features include 22-inch black and silver alloy wheels, darker exterior trim, LED welcome lighting, and premium silver interior trim.
Last but not least is the Mulliner Miami Collection, inspired by Miami’s colorful lifeguard stations and pulsating art scene. The collection includes the Flying Spur, Bentayga, and Continental GT finished in bright Orange, Blue, and Lime Green paint. Inside, Bentley’s Miami Collection gets two-tone painted piano veneers, Klein Blue leather upholstery, and bespoke quilting, among many others.
“Our dealers are very involved in each of their local markets and communities with appreciation to maximize the ability to promote Bentley’s craftsmanship,” said Mike Rocco, Vice President of Sales & Operations for Bentley Americas. “The opportunity to expand inventory offering to customers and present a truly unique experience through the Personal Commissioning Guide is remarkable.”
Vazirani Ekonk is possibly the world’s lightest electric car
Indian electric automaker Vazirani is not as mainstream as Tesla and other legacy EV makers, but what will soon change with the launch of Ekonk performance EV. The Ekonk is a low-drag performance concept that signifies the birth of Vazirani’s assault in the burgeoning EV category. The name ‘Ekonk’ is a derivative from Indian scriptures representing the divine light, “where for the first time design and innovation comes together,” said the company.
From the looks of it, the Ekonk is a dedicated performance contender, and it’s doing it the old school way: By shedding weight. Vazirani claims Ekonk is the world’s lightest electric car, and losing pounds in an EV is hard to do without losing a wheel or two. Tipping the scales at around 1627 pounds (738kg), the Ekonk is almost as lightweight as other three-wheeled EVs like the Arcimoto (590 kg) and Daymak Spiritus (620 kg).
In addition, Ekonk is lighter than the Aptera solar EV (816 kg), and it has four wheels instead of three, so Vazirani may be up to something here. How did they do it? “Biomimicry – studying how animals and humans use breathing to regulate their body temperatures – combined with some ancient Indian manufacturing techniques resulted in the invention of the DiCo technology,” said Chunky Vazirani, CEO of Vazirani.
Vazirani’s proprietary DiCo battery cooling technology “allows the batteries to cool directly with the air, as opposed to needing liquid cooling,” adds Vazirani. The carmaker adds DiCo is the first solid-state direct cooling system that utilizes nanoparticle technology to enhance the range and performance of any EV.
The automaker did not mention the battery capacity, but it did say Ekonk can rush to 60 mph from a dead stop in 2.5-seconds and has a top speed of 192 mph. Also, we have no idea how many motors are hiding underneath Ekonk’s aerodynamically optimized body shell, but Vazirani claims 722 horsepower and mountains of torque.
Additionally, Ekonk is a proper driver’s car. Vazirani said Ekonk has no driver aids, with just the electric motors and the wheels separating the driver from the road. It’s not a bad-looking thing, either, but the absence of a fixed or foldable roof means this car is a genuine track toy. If you don’t like a speedster, Vazirani also has the Shul hyper EV (with two doors and a roof) with the same DiCo battery cooling technology.
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