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Range Rover plugs into electric car movement

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Updates revealed across the Range Rover Sport line-up are headlined with the new PHEV, combining electric and petrol power for sustainable performance

Jaguar Land Rover has announced that the new Range Rover Sport will be transformed by technology, with a plug-in hybrid electric powertrain delivering efficiency, capability and performance.

The reveal follows the news that, from 2020, all new Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles will be electrified and marks the next step on the Great British company’s electrification journey.

Jaguar Land Rover provided the following information:

In addition to efficient PHEV options, every Range Rover Sport has an enhanced design and new consumer technology. The flagship SVR now delivers 423kW, making it the fastest Range Rover to date. This is an SUV driven to another level of dynamic capability, with breadth of appeal and desirability like no other.

Gerry McGovern, Chief Design Officer, Land Rover said: “When we started the design process with this new Range Rover Sport, it was important that we maintained its sporting prowess while evolving the exterior design. The addition of design-enabled technologies, such as our new infotainment system and the LED headlights demonstrate our drive towards ever greater desirability for the customer.”

The British-designed, engineered and built Range Rover Sport has sold more than 732,000 since it was introduced in 2004. Its unrivalled mix of refinement and exhilarating performance has starred on TV and in movies around the world.

The latest Range Rover Sport is Jaguar Land Rover’s first plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. Badged P400e, the new model provides sustainable performance by combining a 221kW 2.0-litre four-cylinder Ingenium petrol engine with an 85kW electric motor. The 297kW total available power output* – available through the permanent four-wheel drive system – delivers 0-100km/h in only 6.7 seconds and a maximum speed of 220km/h. With an impressive 640Nm of torque, the new powertrain mixes dynamic and sustainable performance with traditional Land Rover capability, comfort and refinement.

Thanks to its electrified powertrain, Range Rover Sport P400e emits only 64g/km on the NEDC combined cycle and offers an all-electric range of up to 51km without the petrol engine running. For the first, time Land Rover customers can experience zero-emission, near-silent off-road luxury with uncompromised all-terrain capability as well as entry into areas with restrictions for air quality, including most congestion charging zones.

Drivers can select from two driving modes to best suit their needs:

* Parallel Hybrid mode (the default driving mode) – combines petrol and electric drive. The driver can optimise battery charge or fuel economy by utilising one of two charge management functions:

* SAVE function – prevents the battery charge dropping below a pre-selected level.

Predictive Energy Optimisation (PEO) function – entering a destination in the navigation system enables the feature, which utilises in built GPS altitude data for the selected route, to intelligently combine the electric motor and petrol engine to maximise fuel economy.

EV (Electric Vehicle) mode – enables the vehicle to run solely on the electric motor using the energy stored in the battery, the ideal solution for quiet, zero emission journeys.

Land Rover’s Terrain Response 2 technology has a unique calibration to intelligently and precisely distribute torque from the electric motor, which has no creep speed and maximum torque from zero rpm, to all four wheels. This gives greater control during low-speed off-road manoeuvres, reaffirming Range Rover Sport’s outstanding breadth of capability.

Nick Collins, Vehicle Line Director, Jaguar Land Rover said: “The new Range Rover Sport strikes a compelling balance between dynamic capability, passenger comfort and efficiency. The introduction of our advanced plug-in hybrid powertrain is a watershed moment in the history of our performance SUV.”

The motor is powered by a 13.1kWh high-voltage lithium-ion battery. Land Rover engineers delivered a set-up that maximises interior space and provides ideal weight distribution. The 2.0-litre Ingenium petrol engine is longitudinally mounted, with the 85kW electric motor housed in the ZF automatic eight-speed transmission at the centre of the vehicle alongside the 7kW on-board charger. The access point for the cable is at the front of the vehicle, while the prismatic cell lithium-ion battery is mounted at the rear beneath the boot floor.

When rapid charging, a full charge can be achieved in as little as 2 hours 45 minutes at home using a dedicated 32 amp wall box. The battery can be fully charged in 7 hours 30 minutes using the 10 amp home charging cable supplied as standard.

With significant changes under the skin, the exterior has evolved to harmonise and modernise the design, making the Range Rover Sport look more dynamic without changing its character.

At the front, the striking new design is enabled by intelligent Pixel-laser LED headlights, sitting alongside a redesigned grille. This is complemented by a new bumper with a more aggressive profile. The new PHEV derivative also includes access to the 7kW on-board charger hidden behind the Land Rover badge on the right of the grille.

Inside the cabin the new Touch Pro Duo infotainment system, called ‘Blade’ by its developers, is the most advanced ever created by Jaguar Land Rover and is truly state-of-the-art. Two high-definition 10-inch touchscreens form the centrepiece of the minimalist cabin, blending a futuristic, elegant feel with an intuitive, engaging interface and unrivalled functionality.

In-car connectivity is enhanced with up to 14 power points, including a domestic plug socket to keep laptops and other devices topped up. The introduction of the Jaguar Land Rover Activity Key also brings new levels of convenience to the Range Rover Sport, allowing customers to lock and unlock their vehicle without the need to carry a key fob – ideal for outdoor pursuits.

The new Range Rover Sport has been enhanced with further technologies for greater comfort and convenience:

* Gesture sunblind: opened and closed by an advanced gesture control system that senses an occupant’s hand movement. All it takes to open the blind is a rearward swipe in front of the rear-view mirror, and forwards to close

* Advanced Tow Assist: takes care of the difficult counter-steering required to position trailers accurately when reversing. The driver can simply guide the trailer into the desired space using the rotary controller for the Terrain Response 2 system

* Pixel-laser LED headlights: advanced technology provides greater luminance and intelligently blanks sections of LEDs to avoid dazzling oncoming drivers

* Those looking for the ultimate performance SUV will relish the potent new SVR derivative, which takes the Range Rover Sport into new territory. Power is up to 423kW, delivering the 0-100km/h sprint in 4.5 seconds, while bold design revisions and the increased use of carbon fibre construction make the new SVR more dramatic, faster and more agile than before.

The new Range Rover Sport is headed to South Africa. A launch date and pricing will be made available at a future date.

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Meet Aston Martin F1’s incredible moving data centre

The Aston Martin Red Bull Racing team faces a great deal more IT challenges than your average enterprise as not many IT teams have to rebuild their data center 21 times each year and get it running it up in a matter of hours. Not many data centers are packed up and transported around the world by air and sea along with 45 tonnes of equipment. Not many IT technicians also have to perform a dual role as pit stop mechanic.

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The trackside garage at an F1 race is a tight working environment and a team of only two IT technicians face pressure from both the factory and trackside staff to get the trackside IT up and running very fast. Yet, despite all these pressures, Aston Martin Red Bull Racing do not have a cloud-led strategy. Instead they have chosen to keep all IT in house.

The reason for this is performance. F1 is arguably the ultimate performance sport. A walk round the team’s factory in Milton Keynes, England, makes it abundantly clear that the whole organization is hell bent on maximizing performance. 700 staff at the factory are all essentially dedicated to the creation of just two cars. The level of detail that is demanded in reaching peak performance is truly mind blowing. For example, one machine with a robotic arm that checks the dimensions of the components built at the factory is able to measure accuracy to a scale 10 times thinner than a human hair.

This quest for maximum performance, however, is hampered at every turn by the stringent rules from the F1 governing body – the FIA. Teams face restrictions on testing and technology usage in order to prevent the sport becoming an arms race. So, for example, pre-season track testing is limited to only 8 days. Furthermore, wind tunnel testing is only allowed with 60% scale models and wind tunnel-usage is balanced with the use of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) software, essentially a virtual wind tunnel. Teams that overuse one, lose time with the other.

In order to maximize performance within uniquely difficult logistical and regulatory conditions, the Aston Martin Red Bull Racing team has had to deploy a very powerful and agile IT estate.

According to Neil Bailey, Head of IT Infrastructure, Enterprise Architecture and Innovation, their legacy trackside infrastructure was “creaking”. Before choosing hyperconverged infrastructure, their “traditional IT had reached its limits”, says Bailey. “When things reach their limits they break, just like a car,” adds Bailey.

The team’s biggest emphasis for switching to HPE’s hyperconverged infrastructure, SimpliVity, was performance. Now, with “the extra performance of SimpliVity, it means it doesn’t get to its limits,” says Bailey. HPE SimpliVity has helped reduce space, has optimized processing power and brought more agility.

One of the first and most important use cases they switched to hyperconverged infrastructure was post-processing trackside data. During a race weekend each car is typically fitted with over 100 sensors providing key data on things like tyre temperature and downforce multiple times per second. Processing this data and acting on the insights is key to driving performance improvements. With their legacy infrastructure, Bailey says they were “losing valuable track time during free practice waiting for data processing to take place.” Since switching to HPE SimpliVity, data processing has dropped from being more than 15 minutes to less than 5 minutes. Overall, the team has seen a 79% performance boost compared to the legacy architecture. This has allowed for real time race strategy analysis and has improved race strategy decision making.

Data insights helps the team stay one step ahead, as race strategy decisions are data driven. For example, real time tyre temperature data helps the team judge tyre wear and make pit stop decisions. Real time access to tyre data helped the team to victory at the 2018 Chinese Grand Prix as the Aston Martin Red Bull cars pitted ahead of the rest of the field and Daniel Ricciardo swept to a memorable victory.

Hyperconverged infrastructure is also well suited to the “hostile” trackside environment, according to Bailey. With hyperconverged infrastructure, only two racks are needed at each race of which SimpliVity only takes up about 20% of the space, thus freeing up key space in very restricted trackside garages. Furthermore, with the team limited to 60 staff at each race, only two of Bailey’s team can travel. The reduction in equipment and closer integration of HPE SimpliVity means engineers can get the trackside data center up and running quickly and allow trackside staff to start work as soon as they arrive.

Since seeing the notable performance gains from using hyperconverged infrastructure for trackside data processing, the team has also transitioned some of the factory’s IT estate over to HPE SimpliVity. This includes: Aerodynamic metrics, ERP system, SQL server, exchange server and the team’s software house, the Team Foundation Server.

As well as seeing huge performance benefits, HPE SimpliVity has significantly impacted the work patterns of Bailey’s team of just ten. According to Bailey, the biggest operational win from hyperconverged infrastructure is “freeing up engineers’ time from focusing on ‘business as usual’ to innovation.” Traditional IT took up too much of the engineers’ time monitoring systems and just keeping things running. Now with HPE SimpliVity, Bailey’s team can “give the business more and quicker” and “be more creative with how they use technology.”

Hyperconverged infrastructure has given Aston Martin Red Bull Racing the speed, scalability and agility they require without any need to turn to the cloud. It allows them to deliver more and more resources to trackside staff in an increasingly responsive manner. However, even with all these performance gains, Aston Martin Red Bull Racing has been able to reduce IT costs. So, the users are happy, the finance director is happy and the IT team are happy because their jobs are easier. Hyperconvergence is clearly the right choice for the unique challenges of Formula 1 racing.

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Body-tracking tech moves to assembly line

Technology typically used by the world’s top sport stars to raise their game, or ensure their signature skills are accurately replicated in leading video games, is now being used on an auto assembly line.

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Employees at Ford’s Valencia Engine Assembly Plant, in Spain, are using a special suit equipped with advanced body tracking technology. The pilot system, created by Ford and the Instituto Biomecánica de Valencia, has involved 70 employees in 21 work areas. 

Player motion technology usually records how athletes sprint or turn, enabling sport coaches or game developers to unlock the potential of sport stars in the real world or on screen. Ford is using it to design less physically stressful workstations for enhanced manufacturing quality.

“It’s been proven on the sports field that with motion tracking technology, tiny adjustments to the way you move can have a huge benefit,” said Javier Gisbert, production area manager, Ford Valencia Engine Assembly Plant. “For our employees, changes made to work areas using similar technology can ultimately ensure that, even on a long day, they are able to work comfortably.”

Engineers took inspiration from a suit they saw at a trade fair that demonstrated how robots could replicate human movement and then applied it to their workplace, where production of the  new Ford Transit Connect and 2.0-litre EcoBoost Duratec engines began this month.

The skin-tight suit consists of 15 tiny movement tracking light sensors connected to a wireless detection unit. The system tracks how the person moves at work, highlighting head, neck, shoulder and limb movements. Movement is recorded by four specialised motion-tracking cameras – similar to those usually paired with computer game consoles – placed near the worker and captured as a 3D skeletal character animation of the user.

Specially trained ergonomists then use the data to help employees align their posture correctly. Measurements captured by the system, such as an employee’s height or arm length, are used to design workstations, so they better fit employees. 

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