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GM baked wireless tech into its Ultium EV batteries: Here’s why

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General Motors’ upcoming electric vehicles will use a new wireless battery management system, the automaker has announced, promising safer and simpler power management as well as an easier roadmap for second-life repurposing after their time in cars and SUVs is done. Part of the GM Ultium platform, which will feature in models like Cadillac’s Lyriq luxury crossover and GMC’s Hummer EV, the system replaces the traditional flurry of cabling that runs through other automakers’ batteries.

Power management is an important factor in EVs. On the one hand, it’s how vehicles can figure out just how much juice they have on tap for propulsion, however it’s also instrumental in ensuring safety. As batteries charge, for example, they produce heat; as they age, their ability to hold a charge declines. Figuring out just how much to recharge them, and at what rate, is key to both ensuring safety and as long a lifespan as possible.

Typically, that would involve a whole lot of wiring, but GM’s wireless battery management system, or wBMS, aims to replace the majority of that. Developed with Analog Devices, it embeds radios into the Ultium battery packs. These can communicate with the Vehicle Intelligence Platform, the underlying electronics architecture that GM will use across its brands.

It’ll be, the automaker says, “a primary driver of GM’s ability to ultimately power many different types of electric vehicles from a common set of battery components.” In addition it’ll allow for post-delivery upgrades. With over-the-air (OTA) support for new software and firmware, GM will be able to potentially tweak things like how fast battery packs charge, how much capacity is reserved for offsetting natural decline as the cells age, and how rapidly they transfer power to the motors.

As for helping GM produce EVs faster, the company says that the wBMS will help liberate it from designing a custom wiring scheme for each model. The system will perform real-time battery pack health checks, and allow for more overall capacity too. With up to 90-percent fewer wires in the batteries, there’ll be the opportunity to either make the packs smaller and lighter, or fit more cells in and thus extend range.

Beyond their purpose in EVs, meanwhile, the technology should help old batteries find more productive roles in secondary installations. GM says that, once the packs can no longer hold sufficient charge for use in vehicles, the reconfigurable wireless connectivity will allow them to be integrated with other such packs and form backup batteries. That’s something we’ve seen other automakers experiment with, with arrays of former EV batteries soaking up excess power from wind or solar farms for example, but GM’s wBMS will supposedly make configuring those arrays much easier as custom cabling won’t be required.

On the security side, GM is promising that it’ll use a protected wireless signal between the car’s systems and the batteries, since that’s one place you really wouldn’t want a hacker taking control. The wBMS will be standard across all Ultium-based vehicles, which presumably means that third-party vehicles based on the platform – like the Nikola Badger electric pickup expected to go into production in 2022, and the two Ultium-based Honda EVs in the pipeline – will also benefit from the system.

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The Real Reason Canada Is Banning Huawei Technology

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In an official statement, Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, Francois-Phillipe Champagne mentioned that the move ensures the long-term safety of the country’s telecom infrastructure. The decision was made after “a thorough review by our independent security agencies and in consultation with our closest allies,” says the statement.

The Canadian government claims to have conducted an extensive examination of 5G technology and arrived at the conclusion that — despite its benefits — the next-gen cellular technology opens the doors for new security threats. The government has raised concerns that Huawei and ZTE could be forced by the Chinese government to engage in activities that are not in Canada’s best interests. In the past, Huawei has repeatedly denied the claims of being influenced by the Chinese government and even has a dedicated 5G myth-busting resource page on their official company website.

China, on the other hand, has opposed the ban, claiming that it will take all necessary steps to ensure the well-being of Chinese companies. “We will take all necessary measures to safeguard the legitimate interests of Chinese firms,” foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin was quoted as saying by Reuters.

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The Most Expensive NFTs Ever Purchased

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One of the earliest examples of an NFT collection on the Ethereum blockchain, CryptoPunks have grown to be among the most valuable collections in the world. They are a set of 10,000 unique, algorithmically-generated “Punk” characters that, according to their creators Larva Labs, served as the inspiration for the ERC-721 standard, an interface that now powers that majority of Ethereum-based NFTs. A CryptoPunk’s value is determined by the rarity of its attributes: the rarer the attributes, the more valuable the NFT.

CryptoPunk #5822 is one of the rarest of all, which explains its incredible selling price. Firstly, it has just one attribute, a feature that only 2% of the collection shares. That single attribute is a bandana, which is rare in itself, as only 5% of the collection sport one. The Punk’s skin type is alien, which is the biggest factor in pushing up this NFT’s value, as only 0.09% of the collection share this skin, a total of 9 NFTs out of a collection of 10,000. Punk #5822 was bought by Deepak Thapliyal, CEO of blockchain tech company Chain, for 8,000 ETH, roughly $23.7 million USD at the time of sale.

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Self-Repairing Electronics Are Closer To Reality Than You Think

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A research group led by Professor Yehonadav Bekenstein from the Faculty of Materials Sciences and Engineering and the Solid-State Institute at Technion was studying perovskite nanoparticles for their potential to provide a green alternative to toxic lead materials used heavily in electronics. In doing so, they found something unexpected.

The team found on a microscopic level that the nanocrystals moved a hole (damage) through the areas of a structure to self-heal. Surprised by this, the researchers drew up a code to analyze microscopic videos and understand the dynamics and movements within the crystal. The researchers realized that the damaged area, or hole, formed on the surface of the nanoparticles, then moved to energetically stable areas inside, and was finally “spontaneously ejected” out. Researchers explained that through this self-healing process, the nanocrystals essentially reverted back to being undamaged (per Technion). 

Researchers with Technion believe that this discovery is a key step toward understanding the processes by which perovskite nanoparticles can heal themselves. The team also thinks that perovskite nanoparticles should be used in solar panels and other electronic devices. The full study, published by Advanced Functional Materials and made available at the Wiley Online Library, is titled “Self-Healing of Crystal Voids in Double Perovskite Nanocrystals Is Related to Surface Passivation.”

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