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Kids start coding self-driving cars of tomorrow

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Tomorrow’s engineers are learning to code self-driving vehicles of the future today thanks to the Land Rover 4×4 in Schools programme.

Self-driving cars will require an estimated one billion lines of computer code – almost 1,000 times more than the 145,000 lines required by NASA to land Apollo 11 on the moon. To meet the growing need for more coders to deliver these future autonomous and connected vehicles, Jaguar Land Rover is looking to inspire the next generation of software engineers. 

The talented teenagers competing in this year’s Land Rover 4×4 In Schools Technology Challenge world finals – a global education enrichment initiative aimed at encouraging young people to take up STEM careers – were able to write 200 lines of code in just 30 minutes, to successfully navigate a scale model Range Rover Evoque around a 5.7-metre circuit.

David Lakin, Head of Education from the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), said: “We’re in the midst of a digital skills shortage – the UK alone requires more than 1 million software engineers to fill the growing demand for roles requiring a knowledge of coding, software engineering or electronics.

“Digital skills are vital to the economy, which is why the IET is proud to support initiatives like the Land Rover 4×4 In Schools Technology Challenge to ensure we inspire, inform and develop future engineers and encourage diversity across STEM subjects from a young age. If we are to safeguard jobs for the next generation, we must equip the workforce of the future with the skills they will need to engineer a better world.”

As of 2018, there were 23 million software developers worldwide but this population is expected to grow to 27.7 million by 2023†. With World Economic Forum research suggesting 65% of students today will end up working in jobs that don’t currently exist*.

This year, Jaguar Land Rover will launch a new Digital Skills Apprenticeship programme to attract the brightest computer engineers to help code its next-generation electric, connected and autonomous vehicles and support the factories of the future. 

Nick Rogers, Director of Product Engineering at Jaguar Land Rover, said: “The future of automotive is increasingly rooted in computer engineering and software development as we move to a world of autonomy. As an employer we are helping develop the next generation of engineers while future-proofing our business an estimated 1.2 million more people with specialist digital skills needed by 2022 in the UK alone.”

The Land Rover 4×4 in Schools programme has helped the company reach more than four million young people since 2000. This year 110 students from 14 countries, including South Africa, qualified for the world finals held at the University of Warwick. The NewGen Motors team from Greece lifted the trophy following two intensive days of competition. The two teams from South Africa included Team Rhino SA from Pietermaritzburg Girl’s High School, and The Insomniacs from Roshnee Islamic School in Vereeniging.

Mark Wemyss-Holden, former teacher and UK National Project Manager for the programme, said: “Coding is high on the agenda across industry and teachers do a fantastic job delivering the curriculum, but schools have competing priorities and are hamstrung by limited budgets and time. The private sector, and programmes like Land Rover 4×4 In Schools, have a real opportunity to bridge the gap between what learners enjoy studying and how that translates into a future career.”  

Jaguar Land Rover is a leader in the development of Autonomous, Connected, Electric and Shared (ACES) mobility services and has invested in Global Pioneering Hubs around the world, including Shannon, Republic of Ireland; Budapest, Hungary; and Portland in the United States.

John Cormican, General Manager for Vehicle Engineering, Shannon, said: “Shannon has an important role to play in realising the company’s vision for autonomous and connected vehicles, but we cannot deliver this future without the very best minds – individuals who could write the next chapter for Jaguar Land Rover. It’s fantastic to see the company taking such an innovative approach towards investing in the next generation.”

The Land Rover 4×4 in Schools programme was launched in the UK in 2006 and was launched globally in 2015. The Challenge now operates in 20 countries and to date, 15,000 young people have participated in the programme. The competition inspires many students to pursue STEM careers in the automotive industry including former participants who have joined Jaguar Land Rover as undergraduates and apprentices.

http://reports.weforum.org/future-of-jobs-2016/chapter-1-the-future-of-jobs-and-skills/

† https://evansdata.com/press/viewRelease.php?pressID=268

https://www.arm.com/

Cars

Mercedes brings older models to the connected world

The Mercedes Me Adapter is designed to bring older Mercedes Benz models into the connected world, allowing one to keep a close eye on the car via a smartphone. SEAN BACHER installs a unit

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In this day and age, just about any device, from speakers to TVs to alarm systems, can be connected and controlled via a smartphone.

In keeping with this trend, Daimler Chrysler has launched a Mercedes Me Adapter – a system designed to connect your car to your phone.

The Mercedes Me Adapter comprises a hardware and software component. The hardware is an adapter that is no bigger than a match box and plugs into the OBD2 diagnostics socket under the car’s steering wheel column. 

The software component is the Mercedes Me app, which can be downloaded for Android and iOS devices. (See downloading instructions at the end of the review.)

Setting up

Before you can start using the Mercedes Me Adapter, you need to download the app and begin the registration process. This includes setting up an account, inputting the vehicle’s VIN number, the year it was manufactured and the model name – among many other details. This information is sent to Daimler Chrysler. It is advisable to get this done before heading off to Mercedes to have the adapter installed, as it takes quite some time getting all the details in.

The next step is locating your nearest Merc dealer to get the adapter installed. You have to produce the registration papers and a copy of your ID – something Mercedes neglects to mention on its website, or anywhere else, for that matter.

What it does

The Mercedes Me Adapter is designed to show the car’s vital statistics on your mobile device. On the home screen, information like parking time, odometer reading and fuel level is displayed.

Below that is information about your most recent journeys, such as the distance, time taken, departure address and destination address. Your driving style is also indicated in percentage – taking into account acceleration, braking and coasting.

A Start Cockpit button displayed on the home screen includes a range of widgets offering additional information, including where your car is parked – right down to the address – as well as battery voltage, total driving time, distance and driver score since the adapter was installed. A variety of other widgets can be added to the screen, allowing for complete customisation.

Many users have have pointed out that that there is no real point to the adapter. However it does offer benefits. Firstly, your trips can be organised into personal and business categories and then exported into a spreadsheet for tax purposes. Secondly, you can keep a very close eye on your fuel consumption, as it automatically measures how many litres you put in each time you visit the garage and the cost (the cost per litre must be entered manually so it can work out total refuelling costs). This is also quite beneficial in terms of working out how much fuel you go through, without keeping all the pesky slips when it comes to claiming at the end of the month.

Probably the most important benefit is that it monitors the engine, electrical, transmission and gearbox, sending notifications as soon as any faults are detected. A perfect example was encountered on a recent trip I made to Pretoria. Upon arriving, I received a notification that I needed to check my engine, with the Mercedes roadside assist number blinking and ready for me to dial.

The notification did not even show up on the actual fault detection system, except for the faint glow of the orange engine light, which I would never have noticed in the bright light. I immediately took it Mercedes and they diagnosed it as an intermittent thermostat error, which they said is fine for now but that I have to keep an eye on the engine temperature.

Conclusion

The convenience of easily being able to export mileage for tax purposes and refuelling stops as well as being able to locate your car at anytime should be more than enough to qualify it as a pretty useful companion for your car.

Add to this the fact that it is completely free from Mercedes, and that makes it an absolute no-brainer. Should you not like it, simply unplug the adapter and uninstall the app. The only thing lost is half an hour while the Mercedes technician sets it up, ensures it is working and gives you a crash course on how to operate the app.

The adapter will only work in Mercedes Benz models from 2002 onwards. No warranties are lost, as the adapter does not increase the car’s performance and is a genuine Mercedes part.

2017 models and above do not need the adapter as everything is installed when the car is manufactured. All one needs to do is install the app and pair it with the car.

Get the Mercedes me iOS app here

Get the Mercedes Me Android app here

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Durban FilmMart wants African documentary projects

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Submissions for documentary and feature film projects in development for the Durban FilmMart  (DFM) close next week on 31 January 2020. The organisers are making a special call-out to documentary filmmakers who have projects to submit.

“We invite documentary filmmakers to submit their projects no matter how early in its development it is, so long as it has a producer and director attached to it,” says Don Edkins well-known documentary filmmaker and the DFM’s documentary film mentor. “The DFM is a brilliant way in which filmmakers are able to galvanize interest in their ideas, get people excited about being involved or helping them develop the project. It may be that the project could then be taken to its next level by being invited to another market for further development, or find financing through the pitches. The possibilities are endless.”

The DFM, which takes place from 17 to 20 July 2020, will host 10 documentary and 10 feature projects at its co-production and finance forum. The producer, director or writer on the project must be an African citizen and can either be living on the continent or in the Diaspora.

‘Documentary filim has over the last years really come into its own,” enthuses Edkins. “We see how the genre has evolved from its more information-driven newsreel-style to a narrative or ‘story-driven’ approach,” he says. “It makes the film genre so much more accessible for its audience, drawing them in and engaging them, yet still making strong statements or creating its requisite impact.”

Countless film projects have gone from a simple concept and idea at the Durban FilmMart to the big screen over the 11 years.

Some examples include the 2011 project Buddha in Africa directed by Nicole Schafer (SA) which premiered at HotDocs 2019, and had its SA premiere at Encounters and won Best SA Documentary at DIFF making it eligible for consideration for an Oscar nomination.  2014 projects which made it to the big screen include Kula – a Memory in 3 Acts directed by Inadelso Cossa (Mozambique), The Colonel’s Stray Dogs directed by Khali Shamis (SA), The Sound of Masks directed by Sara Gouveia (SA/Mozambique), Alison directed by Uga Carlini (SA). The 2015 alumni projects which were completed include Amal directed by Mohamed Siam (Egypt), Not in my Neighbourhood directed by Kurt Orderson (SA), The Giant is Falling (working title After Marikana) directed by Rehad Desai (SA) had its international premiere at IDFA. The 2016 project The Letter directed by Maia von Lekow and Chris King (Kenya) premiered at IDFA in 2019 and also from that year, Working Womxn directed by Shanelle Jewnarain (SA) is in production.

“There are plenty more examples of films that have pushed through from their initial concepts, into production and then onto distribution and or screening,” says Edkins. “The documentary film community in Africa is still small and working with the DFM we try to find new talent constantly and work with the industry to hold space for the documentary. I know there are highly creative and talented people out there who have brilliant ideas, and I would like to encourage them to submit these for consideration for this year’s edition.”

To submit a project go to http://www.durbanfilmmart.co.za/ProjectSubmissions

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