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NNNCo deploys IoT network for cotton farmers

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(Image: NNNCo)

Australia’s cotton farmers will be gaining access to Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity, with Australia’s National Narrowband Network Company (NNNCo) to deploy a 3 million-hectare network during 2019.

The publicly available LoRaWAN network, being built in partnership with Goanna Ag, is aimed at enabling IoT-powered irrigation solutions for the cotton industry.

NNNCo will extend its existing LoRaWAN network to cover the area across the Murrumbidgee, Lachlan, Gwydir MacIntyre, Namoi, and Macquarie valleys, and the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area, with Goanna Ag funding the network through investment from Westpac and Graincorp Operations.

The network will provide data on soil moisture through the use of sensors including soil probes, rain gauges, local weather data, water and fuel tank monitors, and satellite imagery. This will enable better scheduling of irrigation, according to the companies.

The LoRaWAN network will enable this at a low cost compared to traditional cellular connectivity, Goanna Ag CEO Alicia Garden said.

“Every day that a cotton crop is under stress can cost a grower over AU$100 per hectare. We help growers schedule and apply just the right amount of water to use on crops at just the right time so they can optimise their performance and profit,” Garden said.

The first 100 gateways and 2,000 sensors will be deployed in cotton farms across New South Wales and Queensland this cotton season as part of Goanna Ag’s GoField and GoSense services. The company will also be offering data analytics.

“The network will significantly drive down the cost of connection for data communication and the cost of sensors using this technology,” NNNCo founder and CEO Rob Zagarella said.

“This will make the difference between isolated usage and widespread deployment of the sensors which will in turn provide more granular information and higher value to the industry.”

NNNCo in August also announced that it will be building out an IoT network for the City of Gold Coast covering more than 1,300 square kilometres, with plans to use the connectivity for digital water metering, waste management, and support for parks and fields.

“We’re developing a secure, scalable, commercial-grade IoT network that will enable infinite use cases by businesses, enterprise, and the council,” Gold Coast chief innovation and economy officer Ian Hatton said.

“We chose LoRaWAN technology because it supports large-scale deployments securely, reliably, and cost effectively. NNNCo have been engaged because of their proven ability to build the network and bring commercial solutions that have the potential to significantly add value to Gold Coast residents and businesses.”

NNNCo is similarly building out IoT networks across Newcastle and Lake Macquarie to enable smart city applications such as smart street lighting and water meters.

It has previously worked on IoT trials with Melbourne’s metropolitan water utilities to test coverage, data delivery, and battery life of digital water metering for City West Water, South East Water, and Yarra Valley Water.

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Ford reveals the Mustang Mach-E EV for police testing

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Ford has been building cars used by police departments and other law-enforcement agencies around the country for many years. In the past, its Mustang with the 5.0 liter V-8 and the Crown Victoria, among other Ford vehicles, were widely used as police cars. Many police agencies are pushing towards automobiles that get better fuel economy and pollute less.

To meet the demand for zero-emissions police vehicles, Ford has submitted the all-electric Mustang Mach-E for testing with the Michigan State Police. Ford is exploring fully electric vehicles built specifically for police as part of its $30 billion investment in electrification through the year 2025.

Ford is aiming to demonstrate that its electric vehicle can deliver impressive performance and operate on demanding police duty cycles. The all-electric police vehicle is based on the 2021 Mustang Mach-E. It will be part of the 2022 model year Police Evaluation performed by the Michigan State Police on September 18 and 20th.

Ford says that the pilot program is going to be used as a testing benchmark as it explores purpose-built electric police vehicles for the future. The automaker expects that demand for green zero missions police will continue to grow. Previously Ford revealed a Mach-E police car for the United Kingdom.

As regulations tighten for emissions around the world, many police departments and law-enforcement agencies will be forced to seek green patrol vehicles. One potential downside to an electric vehicle for police work is long charge times and short driving ranges in pursuit situations. However, despite its drawbacks, electric vehicles offer impressive performance. It would be no surprise to see the Mach-E police car record the best performance of all vehicles in the test.

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The NTSB is probing another fatal Tesla crash

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Over the years, there have been multiple accidents involving Tesla vehicles that were allegedly operating on Autopilot at the time. Autopilot is Tesla’s semi-autonomous driver assistance tech. To use Autopilot, drivers are supposed to keep their hands on the wheel, but some owners have found ways to defeat that system.

Recently police in Coral Gables, Florida, were called to the scene of an accident involving a Tesla Model 3. The accident occurred on Monday evening of this week and happened in a residential area. According to police, the vehicle was using the Autopilot system at the time of the accident.

After the Model 3 crashed, its battery packs caught fire, and the two deceased occupants were badly burned. The bodies were damaged enough that they haven’t been positively identified at this time. The fatal accident occurred when the Model 3 impacted a tree. After that impact, there was a fire.

The NTSB has confirmed that it has sent three investigators to the area to look into the cause of the fire. This accident isn’t the first allegedly involving Tesla’s Autopilot system that NTSB has investigated. Previously, the NTSB also investigated an accident involving a Tesla that happened in Texas in April.

In that particular accident, police believe no one was in the driver’s seat. Some Tesla owners have discovered how to activate autopilot without being in the driver’s seat. In August, the NHTSA opened a formal probe into Tesla automobiles and its Autopilot driver assistance system after 11 crashes involving Autopilot-equipped vehicles and police and fire vehicles. There have been 11 crashes involving Tesla’s that have led to the death of occupants since 2016. Whether or not autopilot is at fault is unknown.

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Chevrolet Bolt production stoppage extended until mid-October

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GM has announced that it will extend its production stoppage for the Bolt electric vehicle through at least mid-October. The announcement marks an extension of its production stoppage announced in late August due to a massive battery recall for the electric vehicle. The defective battery packs have caused 12 fires.

Most recently, a Bolt caught fire in the owner’s garage, destroying the vehicle, damaging the home, and causing damage to another vehicle stored in the garage at the time. GM has confirmed that Bolt production at the Orion Assembly plant will not commence until at least October 15. The massive battery recall has already cost around $2 billion, and GM says it will recover most of that money from battery supplier LG.

Chevrolet’s latest production stoppage for the Bolt comes in the middle of a massive chip shortage that has forced production on other vehicle assembly lines to stop. Sales and production of the Bolt won’t begin until the automaker has a confirmed fix for the battery issues.

An investigation laid the blame on misaligned robots at the battery assembly factory. According to that report, the misaligned robots caused a torn anode tab placing it closer to the cathode leading to short-circuiting and fires. After another fire that happened this month, GM issued a new warning to owners of the small electric vehicle.

The new warning tells Bolt owners to keep their vehicles at least 50 feet away from homes, offices, and other vehicles. Unfortunately, it’s highly unlikely that any owner who heeds the warning and parks 50 feet away from homes or offices would be able to charge their vehicle, essentially making them useless until a fix is available. Defective battery packs have led to three injuries and multiple fires.

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