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Roadtripping through Africa in a solar-powered car

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A group of university students and lecturers are on a road trip of a different kind as they travel over 4 000km to test out their solar powered car – the Ilanga II fuelled only by the sun, writes JENNI EVANS.

Solar panels? Check. Ion batteries? Check. 3D printer for spares? Check. A group of university students and lecturers are on a road trip of a different kind as they travel over 4 000km to test out their solar powered car the Ilanga II fuelled on nothing by good old sunshine.

“It can do up to 140km/h,” says Nickey Janse van Rensburg, who lectures mechanical engineering at the University of Johannesburg’s Energy Movement lab.

“Because we don’t have a lot of sun today we are doing 90km/h,” she said from the convoy snaking toward the Northern Cape town of Kimberley to show off the vehicle named after the Zulu word for sun.

And every time they stop, they draw a crowd of people keen to see what can be done by a group of bright sparks looking for clean green alternatives.

Resembling a cross between a space pod and a yacht, the aerodynamic lines of the orange and white Ilanga II draws delighted crowds wherever she pulls up. And that is exactly what the university wants – for people in the towns and rural villages along the route to see how green technology can be used in every day life.

Says Janse van Rensburg, the Ilanga II could even be plugged into a wall like a cellphone, if needed, to charge.

The Solar Car Project promotes the study and development of efficient energy use, environmental awareness, energy management and innovative engineering.

On Thursday the residents of Klerksdorp who arrived with their children at the team’s leg-stretching and system-tweaking stop at the Mitsubishi garage were intrigued by what they saw. Her “engine” is 300 lithium ion batteries which work almost like cellphone batteries, and almost 1 000 business card-sized thin solar panels.

Along the route, even mayors have come out to welcome the team which is happy to explain how everything works and tell people about other ways of using “green” technology in their every day life.

And of course, everyone wants to see some laps and they are not disappointed. And then it’s go time again.

Mars Rover

Warren Hurter, engineering project manager at the university’s manufacturing research centre, is one of the three drivers taking turns on the test run.

He explains that the solar panels on top of the vehicle convert the energy from the sun into power in the battery packs.

The solar panels are similar to the solar cards that powered the Mars Rover which wheeled around the red planet looking for signs of water activity, its solar panel “wings” capturing enough energy during the four-hour Mars day to enable it to explore, and communicate with the team on Earth.

The Ilanga II’s tool box is a 3D printer which will be used to replace parts it might need for running repairs. The 3D printer has already produced the steering interface, the buttons, the battery holder and the brackets for the roof panel.

“We haven’t needed to use it as yet,” said Hurter.

They have had a small suspension problem so far, and when they started their journey in Johannesburg the telemetry system which measures the car’s performance was playing up.

“But that’s all part of the experience,” says Hurter who says he was the kid who played with Lego and pulled things apart to spend hours figuring out how to put it all back together again.

Camping along the way they have a support team which stays up until late making adjustments to the vehicle.

The Ilanga II is their third solar-powered car after the Ilanga and the Ilanga 1. Their team hopes to take her to next year’s Sasol Solar Car Challenge where the Ilanga 1.1 scooped the Technology and Innovation Award previously. Local and international solar car developers compete in that race between Pretoria and Cape Town as part of their work on improving the technology and to share ideas.

The race to find energy efficient alternatives has already given rise to the electric hybrids already on the consumer market.

Because the Ilanga II is built around efficiency, it only takes one driver. The team scanned the shape of one of the drivers, placed it into the vehicle and built it around his shape. So only drivers with his shape will fit into her.

Power pumps

The department partnered with UJ’s Prof Vivian Alberts at PTiP Innovations, who developed and internationally patented the thin film photovoltaic technology used on the car. These are very thin solar panels which they hope to pilot in rural communities in the near future, according to the university’s website.

Hurter says the car does not have any luxuries apart from indicators and headlights. The only radio is the two-way radio the team uses to communicate. It is a bit noisy on the inside because it does not have the sound padding that cars usually have, but from the outside, it is very quiet, and has no emissions.

The project has sponsorship from companies such as Eskom and Siemens, and a support convoy provided by Mitsubishi which also wants the crew to log their vehicles’ fuel efficiency for its own studies.

And when will be able drive one? Not in the near future. The Ilanga II Solar Car Project is not being built for sale, but for now is being used to research and develop sustainable and green engineering that can be used in the real world.

They already have plans to introduce the technology to power village pumps.

Spectators can look forward to seeing Ilanga II at pit stops and lectures along its route which will include a trip through Namibia and Botswana.

Her itinerary is: Friday, June 19: Kimberley – Upington (Public Lecture)

Saturday, June 20: (Upington) – Hakskeen Pan – Rietfontein Border Control – KeetmansHoop

Sunday, June 21: Keetmanshoop – Mariental – Rehoboth

Monday, June 22: Rehoboth – Windhoek (Public Lecture)

Tuesday, June 23: Windhoek– Swakopmund – Walvis Bay

Wednesday, June 24: Walvis Bay – Swakopmund

Thursday, June 25: Swakopmund – Windhoek – Buitepos

Friday, June 26: Buitepos – Kang

Saturday, June 27: Kang – Sekoma – Kanye – Gaborone

Sunday, June 28: Gaborone Day (Public Lecture)

Monday, June 29: Gaborone – UJ Solar Lab.

Like UJ Solar Car on Facebook or follow them @UJSolarCar on Twitter.

News24

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http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/Roadtripping-through-Africa-in-a-solar-powered-car-20150620

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Password managers don’t protect you from hackers

Using a password manager to protect yourself online? Research reveals serious weaknesses…

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Top password manager products have fundamental flaws that expose the data they are designed to protect, rendering them no more secure than saving passwords in a text file, according to a new study by researchers at Independent Security Evaluators (ISE).

“100 percent of the products that ISE analyzed failed to provide the security to safeguard a user’s passwords as advertised,” says ISE CEO Stephen Bono. “Although password managers provide some utility for storing login/passwords and limit password reuse, these applications are a vulnerable target for the mass collection of this data through malicious hacking campaigns.”

In the new report titled “Under the Hood of Secrets Management,” ISE researchers revealed serious weaknesses with top password managers: 1Password, Dashlane, KeePass and LastPass.  ISE examined the underlying functionality of these products on Windows 10 to understand how users’ secrets are stored even when the password manager is locked. More than 60 million individuals 93,000 businesses worldwide rely on password managers. Click here for a copy of the report.

Password managers are marketed as a solution to eliminate the security risks of storing passwords or secrets for applications and browsers in plain text documents. Having previously examined these and other password managers, ISE researchers expected an improved level of security standards preventing malicious credential extraction. Instead ISE found just the opposite. 

Click here to read the findings from the report.

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MWC: Next generation of inflight connectivity to be unveiled

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Next week at Mobile World Congress, the Seamless Air Alliance will reveal progress on its mission towards enabling the next generation of inflight connectivity. This follows a significant start for the Alliance, which has seen membership increase five-fold since the first meeting in June of last year. The Alliance has a new research laboratory setup and continues progress through its three working groups, writing specifications for the technology, requirements, and operations.

These developments represent a huge leap towards the goal of making connectivity as easy and enjoyable in the skies as it is on the ground. Appearing as part of the Airbus stand (Hall 6, stand 6G34), the Seamless Air Alliance will reveal specification topics that have been completed and published to its membership.

“The passenger experience with inflight connectivity remains one of the great technology challenges. From Day One we have been determined to deliver on our mission to bring industries and technologies together to make the inflight internet experience simple to access and a delight to use,” said the Alliance’s Chief Executive Officer, Jack Mandala.

“I have been tremendously encouraged by the enthusiastic and committed response we have seen and the widening areas of expertise we can call upon as more and more companies and organisations continue to join us,” he added.

Announced during MWC 2018, the Seamless Air Alliance has since grown to twenty-three membercompanies with more than one-hundred key personnel from across the membership participating in its three working groups, with numbers continuing to increase.

The Seamless Air Alliance was created by founding members Airbus, Airtel, Delta Air Lines, OneWeb and Sprint, and quickly joined by Air France KLM, Aeromexico, and GOL Linhas Aereas Inteligentes and global technology leaders including Astronics, Collins Aerospace, Comtech, Cyient, iDirect, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Latecoere, Nokia, and Panasonic. 

Today, the Alliance is pleased to announce five additional new members: Adaptive Channel, Etihad Airways, GlobalReach Technology, Safran, and SITAONAIR.

“We are extremely pleased to have these companies join and be a part of the companies driving the next generation of connectivity.” said Mr Mandala.

The Seamless Air Alliance will enable travelers boarding any flight, on any airline, anywhere in the world, to use their own devices to automatically connect to the Internet with no complicated login process nor paywall to scramble over.

The Alliance is also announcing the release of a new research study on the economic benefit of standardization on the inflight connectivity market at Mobile World Congress. This report is available for download at https://www.seamlessalliance.com/publications/

The Alliance is moving rapidly towards an expected demonstration of the technology later in 2019 and anticipates massive interest in Barcelona from the whole communications eco-system.

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