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Nissan showcases Leaf energy in South Africa

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Nissan, in partnership with the uYilo e-Mobility programme, is to demonstrate its revolutionary technology that allows power stored in electric vehicles to be used in a range of home and commercial applications.

The Nissan LEAF – the only commercial electric vehicle used for bi-directional energy transfer capability – is being used in a uYilo field test programme to demonstrate and develop Nissan’s charger technology in South Africa. Once implemented, it will allow LEAF owners to utilise the vehicle’s battery capacity in a variety of ways, in addition to driving.

Comprising Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G), Vehicle-to-Home (V2H) and Vehicle-to-Load (V2L) systems, the technology allows use of the Nissan LEAF’s battery not only for mobility, but for multiple energy storage uses and applications.

“The technology is part of Nissan’s global Intelligent Mobility vision, demonstrating how we can integrate zero emissions driving with efficient renewable energy systems for domestic and commercial use,” said Nissan South Africa’s managing director, Mike Whitfield.

The technology was first rolled out in Japan in 2012 when Nissan launched the “LEAF to home” power supply system. The system transfers the energy stored in the LEAF’s battery to a dedicated V2H station, providing power for household needs.

The technology has been further developed to deliver V2G, allowing energy in the battery to be traded with municipal and energy utilities to increase capacity, while also providing the opportunity to stabilize the grid during peak electricity usage.

Heading the technology localisation programme is Hiten Parmar, director of the uYilo e-Mobility Programme hosted by Port Elizabeth’s Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University engineering innovation hub, eNtsa.

“While the electric vehicle supply equipment for this technology is being introduced gradually globally, we have the opportunity to leverage insight in South Africa where we aim to enable and facilitate development of these value-add products at a lower cost locally”, said Parmar.

Said Whitfield, “Localising the bi-directional battery technology will have enormous benefits for South African LEAF owners, our auto and energy industries, and the economy as a whole.”

uYilo – bringing together government entities and industries, alongside car manufacturing stakeholders – is tasked with fast-tracking the development and commercialisation of key technologies that will support the electric vehicle (EV) industry. Since the establishment of uYilo as the national e-Mobility programme in 2013 by the Technology Innovation Agency, the Nissan LEAF has been used in various field tests.

A 2015 study, for example, found that running an all-electric LEAF for a year costs R18, 000 less than a petrol car, based on the average South African annual mileage of 30,000 kilometres.

“The agreement with Nissan SA and uYilo extends beyond the LEAF being utilised for field testing and creating awareness,” explains Parmar. “It also provides the opportunity for local value-add product and services trials, while also facilitating their development.”

uYilo has initiated the technology localisation study after receiving support from Nissan in Japan to explore local development of the bi-directional technology. This follows acquisition of the necessary specifications by Nissan’s quick-charge partner CHAdeMO.

While the timing for full implementation of the hardware for local product development is yet to be confirmed, uYilo is aiming to unveil an initial demonstration and testing within the next six months.

uYilo is also engaging with Nissan and other global developers and product distributors of a vehicle-to-everything (V2X) system that could eventually be integrated into South Africa’s greater ecosystem.

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Why sports cars make us feel good

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Forget romance, fine dining or an epic boxset binge – new preliminary research reveals that driving a sports car on a daily basis is among the best ways to boost your sense of wellbeing and emotional fulfilment.

The study measured “buzz moments” – peak thrills that play a vital role in our overall wellness – as volunteers cheered on their favourite football team, watched a gripping Game of Thrones episode, enjoyed a passionate kiss with a loved one or took an intense salsa dancing class. Only the occasional highs of riding a roller coaster ranked higher than the daily buzz of a commute in a sports car.

Working with neuroscientists and designers, Ford brought the research to life with the unique Ford Performance Buzz Car: a customised Ford Focus RS incorporating wearable and artificial intelligence technology to animate the driver’s emotions in real time across the car’s exterior. 

Watch the video here https://youtu.be/AFpt6jziFsU

“A roller coaster may be good for a quick thrill, but it’s not great for getting you to work every day,” said Dr Harry Witchel, Discipline Leader in Physiology. “This study shows how driving a performance car does much more than get you from A to B – it could be a valuable part of your daily wellbeing routine.”

Study participants who sat behind the wheel of a Ford Focus RS, Focus ST or Mustang experienced an average of 2.1 high-intensity buzz moments during a typical commute; this compared with an average of 3 buzz moments while riding on a roller coaster, 1.7 while on a shopping trip, 1.5 each while watching a Game of Thrones episode or a football match, and none at all while salsa dancing, fine dining or sharing a passionate kiss. 

For the research, Ford took one Focus RS and worked with Designworks to create the Buzz Car:

From concept, design and installation to software development and programming, the Buzz Car took 1,400 man-hours to create. Each “buzz moment” experienced by the driver – analysed using a real-time “emotional AI” system developed by leading empathic technology firm Sensum – produces a dazzling animation across almost 200,000 LED lights integrated into the car. The Buzz Car also features:

  • High-performance Zotac VR GO gaming PC
  • 110 x 500-lumen daylight-bright light strips
  • 82 display panels with 188,416 individually addressable LEDs

Driver state research

Researchers at the Ford Research and Innovation Center in Aachen, Germany are already looking into how vehicles can better understand and respond to drivers’ emotions. As part of the EUfunded ADAS&ME project, Ford experts are investigating how in-car systems may one day be aware of our emotions – as well as levels of stress, distraction and fatigue – providing prompts and warnings, and could even take control of the car in emergency situations.

“We think driving should be an enjoyable, emotional experience,” said Dr Marcel Mathissen, research scientist at Ford of Europe. “The driver-state research Ford and its partners are undertaking is helping to lead us towards safer roads and – importantly – healthier driving.”

Activity Buzz Moments *
Roller Coaster 3
Driving 2.1
Shopping 1.7
Game of Thrones 1.5
Football Game 1.5
Kissing 0
Salsa Dancing 0
Dining 0

* Average number of high-intensity buzz moments per participant

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Car that sees round corners

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Jaguar Land Rover is leading a £4.7 million (approximately R79 million) project to develop self-driving cars that can ‘see’ at blind junctions and through obstacles.

Britain’s biggest carmaker is leading a project called AutopleX to combine connected, automated and live mapping tech so more information is provided earlier to the self-driving car. This enables automated cars to communicate with all road users and obstacles where there is no direct view, effectively helping them see, so they can safely merge lanes and negotiate complex roundabouts autonomously.

Chris Holmes, Connected and Autonomous Vehicle Research Manager at Jaguar Land Rover said: “This project is crucial in order to bring self-driving cars to our customers in the near future. Together with our AutopleX partners, we will merge our connected and autonomous research to empower our self-driving vehicles to operate safely in the most challenging, real-world traffic situations. This project will ensure we deliver the most sophisticated and capable automated driving technology.”

Jaguar Land Rover is developing fully- and semi-automated vehicle technologies, offering customers a choice of an engaged or automated drive, while maintaining an enjoyable and safe driving experience. The company’s vision is to make the self-driving car viable in the widest range of real-life, on- and off-road driving environments and weather.

AutopleX will develop the technology through simulation and public road testing both on motorways and in urban environments in the West Midlands. Highways England, INRIX, Ricardo, Siemens, Transport for West Midlands and WMG at the University of Warwick join the AutopleX consortium, which was announced as part of Innovate UK’s third round of Connected and Autonomous Vehicle Funding in March 2018.

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