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Fujitsu unveils 10Gbps single-panel 5G antenna

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(Image: Fujitsu)

Fujitsu Laboratories has unveiled a single-panel antenna designed to enable multiple 5G connections on a small, energy-efficient base station, saying it could be used across train stations and stadiums.

The antenna provides speeds of more than 10Gbps across four simultaneous 2.5Gbps signals, using the millimetre-wave (mmWave) 28GHz 5G spectrum band, with 128 antenna elements, and 16 phased array chips that fit onto a single 13cm square printed circuit board.

“Conventional 5G system structures require use of an antenna panel for each terminal when simultaneously transmitting to multiple terminals. Now, by controlling with high accuracy the phase (angle) of signals separately emitted from 128 antenna elements, Fujitsu Laboratories has suppressed the interference between signals,” the company explained.

“Currently, to avoid radio wave interference during communications with multiple users at once, base stations have been configured to use a number of antenna panels corresponding to the number of concurrent users. To miniaturise the equipment so that it can be deployed anywhere, the best option is to provide multi-directional transmissions from a single antenna panel.”

To achieve this, Fujitsu developed a phased array chip that is able to regulate the phase of a signal propagated with an accuracy of one degree or less from an antenna element. It then built one phased array chip per eight antenna elements into the panel.

“The company also uses circuitry that detects the differences in phase between phased array chips, which enables highly accurate phase control for any size antenna panel that has between 64 and 256 antenna elements,” it said.

“As a result, by holding the difference in undesired emissions intruding between one radio wave communicating with a device and another radio wave with another device to 20dB or more, it makes it possible for a single antenna panel to carry out high-capacity communications of 10Gbps or more.”

Fujitsu is planning to commercialise the technology in 2021.

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(Image: Fujitsu)

The announcement follows the company last month signing a 5G partnership with networking giant Ericsson, with plans to combine their radio access and core network portfolios to deliver 5G mobile network services and solutions across Japan.

“Ericsson and Fujitsu’s strength in research and development will ensure the best path for bringing global 5G solutions to Japan, as well as exploring a wider global market,” the companies said in November.

Fujitsu will provide open and standards-based “flexible 5G network systems” using its wireless technology expertise, Fujitsu EVP and head of Network Business Group Tango Matsumoto said.

Fujitsu’s previous work on 5G saw it kick off a field trial last year of its 5G ultra high-density distributed antenna technology and tests of simultaneous high-speed transmission of high-res video using the antenna system, in partnership with Japanese carrier NTT DoCoMo.

Fujitsu and Fujitsu Laboratories, which have been working on 5G trials with NTT DoCoMo since 2014, have also collaborated with the Japanese carrier on evaluating communications speed for distributed antennas deployed at multiple outdoor locations.

“The testing system consists of two mobile stations equipped with displays that can be moved around the interior of Fujitsu Shin-Kawasaki Technology Square, as well as equipment including distributed antennas installed in 16 locations, centralised baseband processing equipment that controls the distributed antennas, and fibre-optic cables connecting the distributed antennas with the centralised baseband processing equipment,” Fujitsu explained in November 2017.

Fujitsu’s ultra-high density distributed antenna technology “actively controls the shape of cells, which are the range of a signal, in order to improve communication quality for mobile stations through centralised control of base station antennas distributed around a space at high density”, it said.

Fujitsu said the 32 distributed antennas can be controlled by the centralised baseband processing devices. This is done by using signal processing equipment that aggregates digital signals — transmitted and received — from several different distributed antennas while preventing signal interference.

Fujitsu also unveiled its millimetre-wave (mmWave) phase shifter for small cells a year ago, which it said delivers the 10Gbps connections required by 5G, while maintaining low power usage.

According to Fujitsu, its phase shifters reduced the number of amps needed by combining switching circuits with differential amps, and using a new mmWave circuit limited the electrical loss of circuits.

Its small cell technology — which Fujitsu said it was looking to offer by 2020 — also makes use of beam-forming, with the company saying it controls 128 antenna elements.

Earlier this month, Fujitsu also said it is working on developing palm vein and facial data authentication technology, with the integrated biometric identification capabilities pointing to a cashless society.

According to Fujitsu, its Laboratories have developed a simulation algorithm enabling instant facial recognition processing.

Related Coverage

The promise of 5G for the enterprise and beyond (TechRepublic)

There are two key sets of opportunities for the enterprise with 5G, according to a new PwC study.

5G mobile networks: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic)

As LTE networks become increasingly saturated, mobile network operators are planning for the 5G future. Here is what business professionals and mobile users need to know about 5G networks.

Ericsson and Fujitsu partner on 5G

Ericsson and Fujitsu will combine their expertise across radio access and core network technology to offer 5G services and solutions across Japan and globally.

Fujitsu develops palm vein and facial data authentication technology

The company hopes to make the technology ‘practical’ within fiscal 2020.

Quick glossary: 5G technology

5G will be the key to unlocking the full potential of IoT and a host of other technologies. Businesses can get a jump on their competition if they apply the power of 5G to their products and services first.

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2022 Ford F-150 Lightning gives new electric pickup its EV name

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The all-electric Ford F-150 may still be a ways out from hitting dealership forecourts, but we now know what it’ll be called: the 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning. The plug-in pickup will be unveiled officially on May 19, though Ford hasn’t been able to resist confirming the badge that the new EV will wear.

It’s not the first time that a Ford truck has borne the Lightning name, mind. Back in 1993 the automaker launched the SVT F-150 Lightning, a performance pickup intended to take on Chevrolet’s 454SS.

That, though, had a V8 under its hood, whereas the new F-150 Lightning will take a very different approach. It’ll be fully electric, with Ford promising more horsepower and torque than any other F-150 currently on sale. It’ll also have sky-high towing and payload ratings, the automaker says, and accelerate faster than even the speediest current F-150.

“Every so often, a new vehicle comes along that disrupts the status quo and changes the game … Model T, Mustang, Prius, Model 3. Now comes the F-150 Lightning,” Jim Farley, Ford President and CEO, said today. “America’s favorite vehicle for nearly half a century is going digital and fully electric. F-150 Lightning can power your home during an outage; it’s even quicker than the original F-150 Lightning performance truck; and it will constantly improve through over-the-air updates.”

This isn’t the first time Ford has opted to use a familiar name with a new, electric twist, of course. The automaker risked frustrating fans when it opted to brand the its all-electric crossover, the Mustang Mach-E, with a name more commonly associated with gas-burning two door coupes and convertibles. Even now, years after that announcement, arguments about whether the Mach-E is a “real” Mustang continue.

Meanwhile, GMC took a similar strategy with its high-profile electric SUV. It resurrected the Hummer brand – probably best known for its profligate gas engines – for the all-electric reboot, keeping the burly styling but pairing it with up to three electric motors.

Ford hasn’t said exactly what configuration it has planned for the 2022 F-150 Lightning. The expectation, however, is that there’ll be a dual-motor arrangement for the electric pickup, for all-wheel drive. Battery size and range haven’t been discussed publicly, either, though given electric truck rivals are talking 300+ miles on a charge – and Chevrolet is promising 400+ miles from its upcoming electric Silverado – it seems likely that Ford will aim for something similar.

Part of the F-150 Lightning’s charm, however, will be how functional it is when it’s standing still. Though the current F-150 can act as a generator for worksite equipment, camping, and other situations, the electric pickup will be able to do that without a gas engine running.

Ford plans to begin production of the 2022 F-150 Lightning in spring 2022, at the new Ford Rouge Electric Vehicle Center. Deliveries are expected in mid-2022.

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Harley-Davidson sparks LiveWire as a standalone electric motorcycle brand

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Harley-Davidson will spin out its LiveWire electric motorcycle into a standalone brand, with a whole range of EVs planned. Announced in production form back in 2018 – though dating all the way back to a 2014 concept – the original Harley-Davidson LiveWire bypassed the clutch and the familiar rumble in favor of a battery and zero emissions, though when preorders opened the following year it was with an eye-watering price tag.

0-60 mph in under 3.5 seconds and instantaneous torque – plus around 110 miles of range – would set you back about $30k, the iconic bike company conceded. The LiveWire was to be the first of a series of Harley-Davidson electric models, as it tried to expand its footprint beyond its traditional audience.

Now, it’s shaking that strategy up a little. LiveWire won’t just be a bike, but a whole brand of its own, initially focused on urban use. It’ll have dedicated showrooms in select markets – initially in California – but also support digital from the outset. Select existing dealers from the Harley-Davidson network will be involved, but you won’t necessarily be able to go into any current dealership and find LiveWire product there.

Of course, though it may be its own entity, LiveWire will get to piggy-back on a lot of Harley’s existing setup. “With a dedicated focus on EV, LiveWire plans to develop the technology of the future and to invest in the capabilities needed to lead the transformation of motorcycling,” the company said today. “LiveWire expects to benefit from Harley-Davidson’s engineering expertise, manufacturing footprint, supply chain infrastructure, and global logistics capabilities.”

Developments by, and for, LiveWire may well find there way into future Harley-Davidson models, for example. Indeed, it sounds like there’ll even be electric Harleys in the future, as LiveWire tech goes full circle to help bring its originator up to speed.

Harley-Davidson has faced challenges in recent years, as it tries to modernize and embrace things like electrification while keeping a grip on its traditional audience and branding. The company launched its “Rewire” plan for restructuring in 2020, trimming select models in some regions, and generally aiming to cut costs. Key, though, is attracting a new, younger audience of riders with Harley conceding a few years back that its appeal among millennials was lagging significantly behind.

We’d already seen the first fruits of that expansion strategy late last year. In November 2020, the company unveiled its Series 1 Cycle e-bike line-up, the first models from its new brand for electric bicycles. Come July 8, meanwhile, we’ll see the first LiveWire branded motorcycle revealed. There, the big question will be whether Harley’s hewn-off nameplate can compete with existing electric bikes on factors like range and price.

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Sleeker Pony.ai self-driving SUV hints at more road-ready autonomous cars

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Autonomous car headgear keeps getting smaller, with Pony.ai revealing its latest self-driving car design and its much sleeker, Luminar-powered scanning hub. Far from the “upturned trashcan” aesthetic many still associate with the bulky LIDAR sensors atop driverless vehicles, the new version adds less than 4-inches of height to Pony.ai’s modified Lexus SUVs.

That’s a considerable difference from the vehicles the company has been using so far. The existing SUVs have a large, roof-rack style block on top, and then a sensor turret rises from that. It’s for good reason, mind: that allows the LIDAR sensors to have a full, 360-degree field of vision around the car.

For effective volume production, though, not to mention aesthetics and practicality, the system needed to be smaller. That’s just what Pony.ai says it has achieved now, tapping Luminar’s slimline Iris LIDAR sensor along with other tech for a much reduced profile roofline. It’ll be just 10 cm high, though still deliver 360-degrees of visibility for the various sensors inside.

The new design will be used in the company’s “automotive-grade production autonomous fleets,” it says, from 2023. Currently, it operates robotaxi services in three cities in China – Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Beijing – and two in California, Irvine and Fremont. Its fleet of 200+ vehicles have collectively provided more than 220,000 robotaxi rides, Pony.ai says, with over 3.1 million miles of driving across a total operational coverage area almost 330 square miles in size.

Luminar is gaining a higher profile in LIDAR circles, including attention from not only autonomous vehicle startups like Pony.ai but established automakers too. Volvo invested in the company back in 2018, then two years later confirmed that Luminar LIDAR would be a key component in its upcoming SPA 2 platform. Expected to go into production from 2022, it’ll be used initially not for full autonomous driving, but for advanced driver assistance.

Indeed, that’s one of the key aspects of Luminar’s tech, and LIDAR in general: exactly what can be achieved with it depends on the software, the legislative environment, and the ambitions – and risk profile – of the company using it. Volvo’s system, dubbed Highway Pilot, will be a Level 3 system designed to take over on select highways and operate without human supervision. However it’ll hand control back over to the human driver outside of that domain.

Pony.ai’s approach, in contrast, is to relegate the driver to passenger status at all times. The company has been working with backer Toyota – which most recently invested $400 million in February 2020 – and the two developed the AV pilots in China together.

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