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Volvo goes self-driving in China

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Volvo Cars plans to launch China’s most advanced autonomous driving experiment in which local drivers will test autonomous driving cars on public roads in everyday driving conditions.

Volvo Cars expects the experiment to involve up to 100 cars and will, in the coming months, begin negotiations with interested cities in China to see which are able to provide the necessary permissions, regulations and infrastructure to allow the experiment to go ahead.

Volvo believes the introduction of autonomous driving (AD) technology promises to reduce car accidents as well as free-up congested roads, reduce pollution and allow drivers to use time spent in their cars more valuably.

The Swedish company, whose name has been synonymous with automotive safety ever since it invented the seat belt in 1959, is pioneering the development of autonomous driving systems as part of its commitment that no one will be seriously injured or killed in a new Volvo by the year 2020.

“Autonomous driving can make a significant contribution to road safety,” Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive of Volvo Cars told a seminar in Beijing on 07 April, entitled ‘Autonomous Driving – could China take the lead?’. “The sooner AD cars are on the roads, the sooner lives will be saved.”

Samuelsson welcomed the positive steps that China has taken to develop autonomous driving technologies, but also encouraged the nation to do more to try and speed up the implementation of the regulations that will oversee autonomous driving cars in future.

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“There are multiple benefits to AD cars,” said Samuelsson. “That is why governments need to put the necessary legislation in place to allow AD cars onto the streets as soon as possible. The car industry cannot do it all by itself. We need governmental assistance.”

The introduction of AD cars promises to revolutionise China’s roads in four main areas – safety, congestion, pollution and time-saving.

Independent research has revealed that AD cars have the potential to reduce the number of accidents significantly. Up to 90 per cent of all accidents are caused by human error, something which is eliminated by AD cars.

In terms of congestion, AD cars allow traffic to flow more smoothly, reducing traffic jams and, by extension, decreasing dangerous emissions and associated pollution. Reduced congestion also saves drivers valuable time.

Samuelsson welcomes moves by regulators and car makers in the US and Europe to develop AD cars and infrastructure, but he also encourages all parties involved to work more constructively together to avoid patchwork global regulations, technological duplication and needless expense.

“AD is not just about car technology. We need the right rules and the right laws. It is natural for us to work together,” Samuelsson concluded. “Our starting point is that both the public and private sectors stand to benefit from new technologies and industries, so it is better to build bridges and work together than to all go in different directions.”

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Huawei Mate 20 unveils ‘higher intelligence’

The new Mate 20 series, launching in South Africa today, includes a 7.2″ handset, and promises improved AI.

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Huawei Consumer Business Group today launches the Huawei Mate 20 Series in South Africa.

The phones are powered by Huawei’s densest and highest performing system on chip (SoC) to date, the Kirin 980. Manufactured with the 7nm process, incorporating the Cortex-A76-based CPU and Mali-G76 GPU, the SoC offers improved performance and, according to Huawei, “an unprecedented smooth user experience”.

The new 40W Huawei SuperCharge, 15W Huawei Wireless Quick Charge, and large batteries work in tandem to provide users with improved battery life. A Matrix Camera System includes a  Leica Ultra Wide Angle Lens that lets users see both wider and closer, with a new macro distance capability. The camera system adopts a Four-Point Design that gives the device a distinct visual identity.

The Mate 20 Series is available in 6.53-inch, 6.39-inch and 7.2-inch sizes, across four devices: Huawei Mate 20, Mate 20 Pro, Mate 20 X and Porsche Design Huawei Mate 20 RS. They ship with the customisable Android P-based EMUI 9 operating system.

“Smartphones are an important entrance to the digital world,” said Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei Consumer BG, at the global launch in London last week. “The Huawei Mate 20 Series is designed to be the best ‘mate’ of consumers, accompanying and empowering them to enjoy a richer, more fulfilled life with their higher intelligence, unparalleled battery lives and powerful camera performance.”

The SoC fits 6.9 billion transistors within a die the size of a fingernail. Compared to Kirin 970, the latest chipset is equipped with a CPU that is claimed to be 75 percent more powerful, a GPU that is 46 percent more powerful and an NPU (neural processing unit) that is 226 percent more powerful. The efficiency of the components has also been elevated: the CPU is claimed to be 58 percent more efficient, the GPU 178 percent more efficient, and the NPU 182 percent more efficient. The Kirin 980 is the world’s first commercial SoC to use the Cortex-A76-based cores.

Huawei has designed a three-tier architecture that consists of two ultra-large cores, two large cores and four small cores. This allows the CPU to allocate the optimal amount of resources to heavy, medium and light tasks for greater efficiency, improving the performance of the SoC while enhancing battery life. The Kirin 980 is also the industry’s first SoC to be equipped with Dual-NPU, giving it higher On-Device AI processing capability to support AI applications.

Read more about the Mate 20 Pro’s connectivity, battery and camera on the next page. 

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How Quantum computing will change … everything?

Research labs, government agencies (NASA) and tech giants like Microsoft, IBM and Google are all focused on developing quantum theories first put forward in the 1970s. What’s more, a growing start-up quantum computing ecosystem is attracting hundreds of millions of investor dollars. Given this scenario, Forrester believes it is time for IT leaders to pay attention.

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“We expect CIOs in life sciences, energy, defence, and manufacturing to see a deluge of hype from vendors and the media in the coming months,” says Forrester’s Brian Hopkins, VP, principal analyst serving CIOs and lead author of a report: A First Look at Quantum Computing. “Financial services, supply-chain, and healthcare firms will feel some of this as well. We see a market emerging, media interest on the rise, and client interest trickling in. It’s time for CIOs to take notice.”

The Forrester report gives some practical applications for quantum computing which helps contextualise its potential: 

  • Security could massively benefit from quantum computing. Factoring very large integers could break RSA-encrypted data, but could also be used to protect systems against malicious attempts. 
  • Supply chain managers could use quantum computing to gather and act on price information using minute-by-minute fluctuations in supply and demand 
  • Robotics engineers could determine the best parameters to use in deep-learning models that recognise and react to objects in computer vision
  • Quantum computing could be used to discover revolutionary new molecules making use of the petabytes of data that studies are now producing. This would significantly benefit many organisations in the material and life sciences verticals – particularly those trying to create more cost-effective electric car batteries which still depend on expensive and rare materials. 

Continue reading to find out how Quantum computing differs.

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