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Electric cars take on Africa

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The Electric Explorer African Challenge 2018, the first electric vehicle expedition ever across Africa kicked off last week in an effort to build awareness of electric mobility and new, cleaner technologies among the public in Africa.

Contemporary electric vehicles boast a driving range of about 250 kilometers. This is enough to use a car in urban traffic for up to a week or to travel from Cape Town to Swellendam free from range anxiety. In the advanced version, vehicles such as Nissan LEAF make it possible to cover the distance between the UK and Mongolia. In the highly advanced version, an attempt can be made to cross Africa, as planned by Polish travellers Arkady Fiedler and Albert Wójtowicz.

The Electric Explorer African Challenge 2018, the first electric vehicle expedition ever across Africa, commenced at the end of last week.The famous Polish traveler Arkady Paweł Fiedler has taken the wheel, accompanied by Albert Wójtowicz, a photographer and cameraman. The main hero of their unique expedition is the Nissan LEAF. The vehicle is not modified in any way; it is exactly the same as the car you can buy from a showroom.

Travelling across Africa is probably the hardest test for any vehicle, not only an EV. Poor roads, limited charging infrastructure and dramatically diverse weather conditions – from equatorial storms to the scorching heat of the Sahara – these are just a few challenges that we’ll have to face during the expedition. We’re optimistic anyway. As part of the tests, I’ve already travelled over 4,000 kilometres in Poland in a Nissan LEAF, and I’m positively surprised by the driving range offered,” said Arkady Paweł Fiedler.

The expedition started in Cape Town last week and will lead to Europe, along Western Africa, via South Africa, Namibia, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo, Gabon, Cameroon, Nigeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, Senegal, Gambia, Mauritania and Morocco, and finally across western Europe to Poland.

The Nissan LEAF is the most popular electric vehicle in the world. The first generation of the model was launched on the market as early as 8 years ago, and Nissan EV drivers have already done more than 3 billion zero-emission kilometres in total. The design tested by hundreds of thousands of drivers can be trusted without hesitation, which I believe will be best proven by the Electric Explorer African Challenge 2018,” adds Dorota Pajączkowska, Nissan PR Manager Poland.

Apart from being the first ever electric vehicle journey across the African continent, the expedition also aims to build awareness of electric mobility and new, cleaner technologies among the public in Africa, Poland, and the world at large. It is also important to show that the way of perceiving the world and human choices, such as the means of transport, have a great impact on our environment.

Care of the environment, home, family starts with us, with our subjective decisions. The journey is also to prove that often something apparently impossible to do can be achieved given appropriate attitude and determination.”

Owing to the huge challenge of looking for appropriate electric sockets to fill the battery with electricity, which is increasingly less of a problem in Europe year on year, we’ll have to rely on help from people we meet along the way. Without support from Africans, the expedition may fail,” recaps Fiedler.

Expedition participants:

  • Arkady Paweł Fiedler – originator and organiser of the expedition, and driver of the expedition vehicle. Grandson of the outstanding writer and traveller Arkady Fiedler. Passionate for automotive expeditions, producer of travel films, photographer. Originator and organiser of the PoDrodze (On the Way) film-and-travel project. 2009 – Along the Polish Borders in Maluch, 2014 – Across Africa in Maluch (project nominated for the National Geographic TRAVELERYS Award), 2016 – Across Asia in Maluch.
  • Albert Wójtowicz – architect by profession, photographer and cameraman by avocation, responsible for video and photo records of the expedition. Photographer of the film and travel project OnTheWay – Across Africa In Maluch 2014 and Across Asia in Maluch 2016.
  • Nissan LEAF – the world’s most popular electric vehicle, with more than 300,000 cars manufactured so far. The generation now widely available for sale, powered by a 30 kWh battery, offers a range of up to 250 kilometres (NEDC). September 2017 saw a new release of the model to be launched in Europe in the first half of 2018.

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Bloodhound land speed record attempt in SA back on track

The Bloodhound land speed record attempt is back on track, with the news that the team will be going to Hakskeen Pan in South Africa in October for high-speed testing.

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The Bloodhound land speed record attempt is back on track, with the news that the Bloodhound team will be going to Hakskeen Pan in South Africa in October 2019 for high-speed testing.

The plans were confirmed at a press conference last week by Bloodhound LSR CEO Ian Warhurst.

“I’m thrilled that we can announce Bloodhound’s first trip to South Africa for these high-speed testing runs,” he said

“This world land speed record campaign is unlike any other, with the opportunities opened up by digital technology that enabled the team to test the car’s design using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and that will allow us to gather and share data about the car’s performance in real-time.”

Why High-Speed Testing?
The Bloodhound LSR team says it has been hard at work preparing the car for these high-speed test runs, upgrading and changing many aspects of the car following successful low-speed test runs at Cornwall Airport Newquay in 2017.

It said in a newsletter last week: “We’ll be using the high speed runs to test the car’s performance and handling at much higher speeds. It will also be a full dress rehearsal for the overall record-breaking campaign. This will include developing operational procedures, perfecting our practices for desert working and testing radio communications.”

One of the most obvious changes to the car is the wheels, which have been swapped for the specially designed solid aluminium desert wheels.

Warhurst said: “We’re running the car on a brand new surface. The wheels have been designed specifically for this desert lake bed, but it will still be vital to test them at high speeds before making record speed runs.”

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This car responds to moods

Jaguar Land Rover is developing new AI technology to better understand changes in the driver’s mood while behind the wheel

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Jaguar Land Rover is researching new artificial intelligence (AI) technology to understand our state of mind while driving – and adjust cabin settings to improve driver wellbeing.

The technology uses a driver-facing camera and biometric sensing to monitor and evaluate the driver’s mood and adapt a host of cabin features, including the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, media and ambient lighting. The settings will be altered in response to the driver’s facial expressions to help tackle stress. Reports suggest 74 per cent of us admit to feeling stressed or overwhelmed every day*. 

The mood-detection system will use the latest AI techniques to continually adapt to nuances in the driver’s facial expressions and implement appropriate settings automatically. In time the system will learn a driver’s preference and make increasingly tailored adjustments.

Personalisation settings could include changing the ambient lighting to calming colours if the system detects the driver is under stress, selecting a favourite playlist if signs of weariness are identified, and lowering the temperature in response to yawning or other signs of tiring.

Jaguar Land Rover is also trialing similar technology for rear passengers, with a camera mounted in the headrest. If the system detects signs of tiredness, it could dim the lights, tint the windows and raise the temperature in the back, to help an occupant get to sleep.

Dr Steve Iley, Jaguar Land Rover Chief Medical Officer, said: “As we move towards a self-driving future, the emphasis for us remains as much on the driver as it ever has. By taking a holistic approach to the individual driver, and implementing much of what we’ve learnt from the advances in research around personal wellbeing over the last 10 or 15 years, we can make sure our customers remain comfortable, engaged and alert behind the wheel in all driving scenarios, even monotonous motorway journeys.”

The new mood–detection system is one of a suite of technologies that Jaguar Land Rover is exploring as part of its ‘tranquil sanctuary’ vision to improve the driving experience. Designed to create a sanctuary inside each of its luxury vehicles, the manufacturer is trialing a wide range of driver and passenger wellbeing features, to ensure occupants are as comfortable as possible whilst ensuring the driver remains mindful, alert and in control.

Mood-detection software is the next-generation of Jaguar Land Rover’s existing driver tracking technology. The Driver Condition Monitor, which is capable of detecting if a driver is starting to feel drowsy and will give an early warning to take a break, is available on all Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles. 

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