At the Tokyo Motor Show this week, Nissan unveiled a concept car that combines manual and self-driving mode with zero emission electric vehicle technology. ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK looks at why this is different to your standard vision of the driverless car.|At the Tokyo Motor Show this week, Nissan unveiled a concept car that combines manual and self-driving mode with zero emission electric vehicle technology. ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK looks at why this is different to your standard vision of the driverless car.|At the Tokyo Motor Show this week, Nissan unveiled a concept car that combines manual and self-driving mode with zero emission electric vehicle technology. ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK looks at why this is different to your standard vision of the driverless car.
Imagine you’re the driver on a long journey with family or friends. Imagine you key in the destination address onto a screen, much as you may do on your phone or personal navigation device today. Now imagine you pull a lever, and the steering wheel recedes into the dashboard. You swing your seat around, and you are sitting in a moving lounge, facing your companions, settling in for a chat, a meal or even a board game.
That future came a step closer last week at the Tokyo Motor Show 2015. Nissan Motor unveiled the Nissan IDS Concept, a concept car that combines autonomous driving and zero emission technology for electric vehicles (EVs).
“Nissan’s forthcoming technologies will revolutionise the relationship between car and driver, and future mobility,” said Nissan president and CEO Carlos Ghosn.
“Nissan Intelligent Driving improves a driver’s ability to see, think and react. It compensates for human error, which causes more than 90 per cent of all car accidents. As a result, time spent behind the wheel is safer, cleaner, more efficient and more fun.”
Nissan points out that some have compared a future with autonomous drive to living in a world of conveyer belts that simply ferry people from point A to B. However, Nissan’s IDS Concept looks a little different to this soulless vision of tomorrow. Piloted Drive, it turns out, is not the same as automatic drive. When the driver turns over the driving to a computer, the car’s performance is claimed to imitate the driver’s own style and preferences.
That may sound like a recipe for disaster, given the aggressive driving style many driver’s adopt. The idea, however, is to provide for a seamless experience as the car moves from manual to self-driving.
In Manual Drive mode, says Nissan, the driver has control, although sensors continually monitor conditions and the IDS assists the driver in taking appropriate action when danger is sensed.
In other words, this isn’t artificial intelligence (AI) that takes over from the driver, but rather partners with the driver.
“From information concerning traffic conditions, the driver’s schedule to personal interests, Nissan IDS Concept’s AI helps create a driving experience that is comfortable, enjoyable and safe,” says the company.
“A key point behind the Nissan IDS Concept is communication,” according to Mitsunori Morita, Nissan’s design director. “For autonomous drive to become reality, as a society we have to consider not only communication between car and driver but also between cars and people. The Nissan IDS Concept’s design embodies Nissan’s vision of autonomous drive as expressed in the phrase, ‘Together, we ride’.
“The Nissan IDS Concept has different interiors depending on whether the driver opts for Piloted Drive or Manual Drive. This was something that we thought was absolutely necessary to express our idea of autonomous drive.”
That’s the one side of the equation. The other is the travel experience for all the passengers.
Nissan says the IDS Concept’s long wheelbase allows for a cabin with comfortable seating space for four adults. It becomes even more spacious when the driver pulls the lever that engages selects Piloted Drive: the steering wheel recedes, a large flat screen comes out, the seats rotate slightly inward, and the passengers are driving into the future.
In Manual Drive is engaged via the PD Commander, a switch between the front seats. Once activated, the seats all face forward and the steering wheel emerges, along with a heads-up display showing route, road and vehicle information.
At last, warning lights for pedestrians are also built into a car. The side body line contains an Intention Indicator, an LED strip that shines red when the vehicle senses pedestrians or cyclists nearby. A second electronic display, facing outside, flashes messages to pedestrians. Many drivers are going to take full advantage of that one!
Nissan will also bring its research into electric vehicle (EV) technology to bear on driverless cars. Right now, a typical EV has a range of no more than 140km of in-town driving. That makes it almost useless for long-distance travel. However, the technology is evolving fast, says Nissan.
Aside from emerging wireless charging technologies and piloted park that can be managed via smartphone or tablet, the IDS Concept also carries a high-capacity battery.
“By the time Nissan Intelligent Driving technology is available on production cars, EVs will be able to go great distances on a single charge,” said Morita. “Getting to this point will, of course, require the further evolution of batteries, but aerodynamic performance is also very important. We incorporated our most advanced aerodynamic technology in the design of the Nissan IDS Concept.”
Money talks and electronic gaming evolves
Computer gaming has evolved dramatically in the last two years, as it follows the money, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK in the second of a two-part series.
The clue that gaming has become big business in South Africa was delivered by a non-gaming brand. When Comic Con, an American popular culture convention that has become a mecca for comics enthusiasts, was hosted in South Arica for the first time last month, it used gaming as the major drawcard. More than 45 000 people attended.
The event and its attendance was expected to be a major dampener for the annual rAge gaming expo, which took place just weeks later. Instead, rAge saw only a marginal fall in visitor numbers. No less than 34 000 people descended on the Ticketpro Dome for the chaos of cosplay, LAN gaming, virtual reality, board gaming and new video games.
It proved not only that there was room for more than one major gaming event, but also that a massive market exists for the sector in South Africa. And with a large market, one also found numerous gaming niches that either emerged afresh or will keep going over the years. One of these, LAN (for Local Area Network) gaming, which sees hordes of players camping out at the venue for three days to play each other on elaborate computer rigs, was back as strong as ever at rAge.
MWeb provided an 8Gbps line to the expo, to connect all these gamers, and recorded 120TB in downloads and 15Tb in uploads – a total that would have used up the entire country’s bandwidth a few years ago.
“LANs are supposed to be a thing of the past, yet we buck the trend each year,” says Michael James, senior project manager and owner of rAge. “It is more of a spectacle than a simple LAN, so I can understand.”
New phenomena, often associated with the flavour of the moment, also emerge every year.
“Fortnite is a good example this year of how we evolve,” says James. “It’s a crazy huge phenomenon and nobody was servicing the demand from a tournament point of view. So rAge and Xbox created a casual LAN tournament that anyone could enter and win a prize. I think the top 10 people got something each round.”
Read on to see how esports is starting to make an impact in gaming.
Blockchain is generally associated with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but these are just the tip of the iceberg, says ESET Southern Africa.
This technology was originally conceived in 1991, when Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta described their first work on a chain of cryptographically secured blocks, but only gained notoriety in 2008, when it became popular with the arrival of Bitcoin. It is currently gaining demand in other commercial applications and its annual growth is expected to reach 51% by 2022 in numerous markets, such as those of financial institutions and the Internet of Things (IoT), according to MarketWatch.
What is blockchain?
A blockchain is a unique, consensual record that is distributed over multiple network nodes. In the case of cryptocurrencies, think of it as the accounting ledger where each transaction is recorded.
A blockchain transaction is complex and can be difficult to understand if you delve into the inner details of how it works, but the basic idea is simple to follow.
Each block stores:
– A number of valid records or transactions.
– Information referring to that block.
– A link to the previous block and next block through the hash of each block—a unique code that can be thought of as the block’s fingerprint.
Accordingly, each block has a specific and immovable place within the chain, since each block contains information from the hash of the previous block. The entire chain is stored in each network node that makes up the blockchain, so an exact copy of the chain is stored in all network participants.
As new records are created, they are first verified and validated by the network nodes and then added to a new block that is linked to the chain.
How is blockchain so secure?
Being a distributed technology in which each network node stores an exact copy of the chain, the availability of the information is guaranteed at all times. So if an attacker wanted to cause a denial-of-service attack, they would have to annul all network nodes since it only takes one node to be operative for the information to be available.
Besides that, since each record is consensual, and all nodes contain the same information, it is almost impossible to alter it, ensuring its integrity. If an attacker wanted to modify the information in a blockchain, they would have to modify the entire chain in at least 51% of the nodes.
In blockchain, data is distributed across all network nodes. With no central node, all participate equally, storing, and validating all information. It is a very powerful tool for transmitting and storing information in a reliable way; a decentralised model in which the information belongs to us, since we do not need a company to provide the service.
What else can blockchain be used for?
Essentially, blockchain can be used to store any type of information that must be kept intact and remain available in a secure, decentralised and cheaper way than through intermediaries. Moreover, since the information stored is encrypted, its confidentiality can be guaranteed, as only those who have the encryption key can access it.
Use of blockchain in healthcare
Health records could be consolidated and stored in blockchain, for instance. This would mean that the medical history of each patient would be safe and, at the same time, available to each doctor authorised, regardless of the health centre where the patient was treated. Even the pharmaceutical industry could use this technology to verify medicines and prevent counterfeiting.
Use of blockchain for documents
Blockchain would also be very useful for managing digital assets and documentation. Up to now, the problem with digital is that everything is easy to copy, but Blockchain allows you to record purchases, deeds, documents, or any other type of online asset without them being falsified.
Other blockchain uses
This technology could also revolutionise the Internet of Things (IoT) market where the challenge lies in the millions of devices connected to the internet that must be managed by the supplier companies. In a few years’ time, the centralised model won’t be able to support so many devices, not to mention the fact that many of these are not secure enough. With blockchain, devices can communicate through the network directly, safely, and reliably with no need for intermediaries.
Blockchain allows you to verify, validate, track, and store all types of information, from digital certificates, democratic voting systems, logistics and messaging services, to intelligent contracts and, of course, money and financial transactions.
Without doubt, blockchain has turned the immutable and decentralized layer the internet has always dreamed about into a reality. This technology takes reliance out of the equation and replaces it with mathematical fact.