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Finland’s 5G plans: ‘We want to build world’s smartest road’

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Finland testing AI assistant to help citizens navigate the public administration
People in Finland are being shown the public and private services that could benefit them most in an ambitious AI trial.

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.


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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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Previous and related coverage:

Self-driving cars: This robot driver cruises through snow and ice 

Finnish researchers have been testing a winter-proof autonomous car on public roads.

Smart roads: How intelligent surfaces can warn you of hazards round next bend

A Norwegian research project is testing how to use fiber optics to listen to the traffic on a road.

Meet Aurora: Finland’s AI assistant aims to give each citizen tailored advice

People in Finland are being shown the public and private services that could benefit them most in an ambitious AI trial.

Autonomous buses, cars, drones: Norway’s Telenor readies its big 5G pilot

When Telenor’s 5G pilot begins near Oslo later this year, it will be putting a string of applications to real-life testing.

Alphabet’s Wing to take off in Finland

The autonomous drone delivery service is launching in the Helsinki area in spring of 2019.

Calling all drone pilots: Why Finland’s military is turning to civilian fliers for help

With an 830-mile border with Russia and as Europe’s most forested country, it’s understandable that Finland’s interest in drone tech is growing fast.

Smaller, cheaper: How these tiny satellites are spinning off new space data movement

Finnish microsatellite maker ICEYE is part of a wave of startups providing Earth data to business and governments.

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Cars

Check out the 2+2 Chevrolet Corvette that never was

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The 60s was an iconic era in the automotive realm in the United States, with some incredibly popular cars getting their start then Vehicles like the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, Chevrolet Corvette, and Dodge Charger, to name a few. Sometimes it takes one vehicle to change the industry and spawn many similar products from the other automakers. Case in point is Ford and its Mustang, which kicked off the pony car era eliciting responses with other iconic vehicles.

Another of the iconic Ford vehicles in the era that sold extremely well was the Thunderbird. The Thunderbird routinely outsold the Chevrolet Corvette. Early in its production, the Thunderbird was a two-seat sports car very similar to the Corvette. It grew in later generations, becoming a 2+2, offering a back seat to carry more passengers. The vehicle in the image above looks like the iconic 60s split-window Corvettes that are so valuable today, but there’s a key difference.

The difference is readily apparent when you look at the side view image in the Instagram post below, where General Motors Design shared photos of a one-off design buck. A design buck is essentially the shell of the vehicle used by automotive designers of the day to get the vehicle’s design just right. This particular example was never powered and never cruised the streets.

The car was a response to the Thunderbird, adding backseats to the Corvette in 1962. Sadly, the 2+2 Corvette was never built, and reports indicate the design buck was later crushed. Another interesting tidbit is that GM reportedly brought in a Ferrari to help with the styling and proportions of the car.

As for what finally became of the project, a GM executive named Bunkie Knudsen, who was part of the styling team but wasn’t a fan of the project, reportedly worked to get the project scrapped. He believed it would taint the Corvette brand and wouldn’t sell in large enough numbers to justify building it. The only Corvettes ever sold by GM have all been two-seat sports cars.

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Alpha Motors Superwolf is a completely decked out electric pickup

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Alpha Motors unveiled a new version of its all-electric pickup called the Superwolf. The difference between this particular version of the truck and the ones that have been shown before is that the Superwolf is completely decked out with all sorts of accessories you might expect to find only on the aftermarket. One of the more interesting accessories seen on the truck is tube doors similar to what you commonly see on Jeeps.

Superwolf also has custom KMC wheels with large off-road tires, a custom front bumper with tow rings and skid plates, as well as a complete roof rack featuring an LED light bar and large locking case. In the bed of the truck is a rack that adds more style to the truck and supports the roof basket.

Under the doors are also compact step rails that look like they are intended to protect the vehicle’s body while off-roading. The truck also features wide fender flares and looks fantastic in general. Other interesting features of the truck include a bed cover that appears to be made out of aluminum and a rack that spans the bed allowing for items to be attached on top of the bed itself.

Several other accessories are available for the truck, including a bed extension and more. Other than the accessories, Superwolf features a driving range of up to 300 miles per charge. It has two motors for four-wheel drive and can reach 60 mph in 6.5 seconds. The truck has a tow rating of 6724 pounds and features a rapid charger with battery cooling and heating.

The truck’s interior can hold four passengers and has a digital display for the driver along with the wide-format center display. Bluetooth connectivity and premium sound are also featured. Superwolf can be reserved now with a starting MSRP listed at between $48,000 and $56,000.

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Classic 1967 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 Trans Am racer heads to auction

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When it comes to muscle cars of the 60s, one of the most iconic is the Chevrolet Camaro. The value of a normal Chevrolet Camaro from the era is often very high. The value of this 1967 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 Trans Am is even higher as it’s an actual successful racing car from the era. This vehicle is the first of six Sunoco Trans Am Camaros that Penske Racing built.

This particular car has an extensive racing history with drivers Mark Donohue and George Follmer behind the wheel. The car has been completely restored by Kevin McKay in its iconic Sunoco racing livery. The car is said to be one of the most significant Chevrolet-powered racing cars ever built. Because of its rarity and racing pedigree, the car is expected to bring as much as $2 million at auction in Pebble Beach.

The car features a 302 cubic inch overhead valve V-8 engine and a single four-barrel carburetor. It’s estimated to produce 450 horsepower and has a four-speed manual gearbox along with four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes. The front suspension is independent wishbone with coil springs, while the rear has a live axle with leaf springs, a setup common in the era.

The racing series the car was built for required a 302 cubic-inch engine. The Z/28 was born due to the need to produce examples for homologation. The Z/28 became the Camaro performance production model, with 602 examples being built in 1967. The first 25 of those cars off the assembly line were sent to racers. This particular car was the 14th produced and was sent to Roger Penske.

This car is the first of only six Penske Camaros built between 1967 and 1969. The auction house says that over $330,000 was spent to restore the iconic car completely. The car comes with a file documenting its extensive racing history and photos of the car as it was discovered and during its restoration.

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