Articles Autonomous Vehicles Technology Internet of Things

Internet of Things Enhancing the next generation, Future of Transportation

By definition, “Internet of things” is the concept of devices connected by a series of protocols in order provide greater interoperation, capacity, and sense of self-automation combined with artificial intelligence in order simplify daily workstream processes. While this concept seems complex, the “Internet of things” is actually a very simple workstream.




Having actual real time data from active sensors feeding into artificial intelligence engines is the future of energy efficiency and better safety transportation. Having the car make quick adjustments to the drive path to avoid an accident or a possibly having an IOT sensor continuous adjust the airflow to keep the car cooler to conserve battery power is closer to near term than most people realize. Tesla’s (Tesla) self-driving feature continues to make headlines as the next up and coming feature that will help drive greater connection between the car and the IOT sensors deployed through the cities and highways. Blackberry (Blackberry QNX) through their autonomous car division in Canada developed an operating system that connects all 452 IP enabled sensors inside the car. By using their QNX operation system, these sensors can communicate with traffic lights, sense when another car is nearby or if the driver has a medical emergency, the vehicle will be smart enough to notify and proceed to the nearest hospital. These are all becoming acceptable use cases for IOT.

Internet of things transportationWill autonomous cars and other forms of transportation work without an IOT strategy? The challenge is not the lack of vision for IOT, the major issue is the lack centralized engineering standards and protocols. For an autonomous car to communicate with remote IOT sensors like stop lights, each sensor within the car will need to continued need to be operational and with the most updated software firm to insure predictable operations. The revolution of “Over the Air” software updates in real time became mainstream with the cell phone manufacturers like Samsung (Samsung OTA) and Apple. With the car hosting so many IOT sensors, how would the car be able to keep up with the constant change in firmware and security patches? Blackberry along with competing solutions from Toyota and other car manufactures place a huge reverence of the core real-time operating systems to receive the various firmware’s and apply the various patches in a flow and staggered fashion. As an example, when a car comes to a complete stop, the real time operating system could begin to apply secondary patches to the various “idol” sensors in the car. Once the car begins to move, the updates will either complete or enter a pause state.


Alignment to the “Smart City” Internet  Of Things Strategy

Many cities around the world continue to evolve their infrastructures to include smart power plans, smart transportation, and industrial 4.0 factories. These IP enabled systems combined with a robust 5G infrastructure, slowly becoming the new normal in urban development. Having a greater “interconnection” between the infrastructure and consumption layers within society not only will develop a much cleaning method of energy consumption, this new “smart” thinking is a behind the need for a greater efficiency in the infrastructure itself. By using self-driving autonomous cars, cities can now offer self-driving cars as a service for those that cannot afford transporting by having a series of vehicles circling the city limited assisting many that need to get somewhere quickly. These IOT powered cars will connected through a series of control sensor, traffic cameras, and updated real road conditions while also providing value consumption data based on usage of the service. Currently today in North America, the “ The battery-powered Xcelsior (New Flyer Bus) AV from New Flyer” is currently being used in Connecticut to provide driver-less transportation services.

Companies like Advantech (Advantech IOT) in Taiwan and Qualcomm (Qualcomm IOT) in San Diego California are examples of industry thought leaders in developing IOT sensors and devices for the “Smart City” evolution. Several more companies like Google, Amazon, and Cisco Systems also continue to drive innovation and IOT standards. IOT as an industry is driving several eco-system partners helping to develop security standards, better use of a “over the air firmware” deployment, and cloud-based applications to analyze the data in real time for faster and more efficient solutions. The future of IOT is a lesson in continued change, agile development, and a true collaboration of cities, states, and nations to connect the world to make a different in how we live together.

The Internet of Things is just one of the markets NextGen excels at, please have a look at all the markets we specialize in.

Articles Autonomous Vehicles Technology

FCEVs, Ideal for Autonomous Driving?

Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs) might help Autonomous vehicles go mainstream. Autonomous vehicles are generally defined as vehicles capable of sensing their surrounding environment and navigating without human input. It is a rapidly growing field, with a number of companies currently developing operational products or technologies that are in the testing phase such as Google’s self-driving cars and Tesla Motors’ Autopilot system.

However, at this time, there aren’t any true fully autonomous vehicles for personal use, and many technological and regulatory hurdles remain before they can be widely available on public roads.

Currently, the bulk of research in this area is focused on achieving full autonomy through a variety of technologies including image processing, sensor fusion, artificial intelligence (AI), etc. Because of this focus on hardware technology development and system integration, there has been little attention given to the role that alternative powertrains could play in this system.

One alternative powertrain that is ideally suited to support fully autonomous vehicles is a hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). Because of this, FCEVs are an ideal “bridge” between autonomous vehicle technology and future clean mobility.

Hydrogen as a Transportation Energy Carrier

Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe and it can be produced from renewable sources such as solar, wind, or hydro energy. When hydrogen is burned with oxygen to produce electricity, it creates only water as an exhaust. This makes hydrogen ideal for all kinds of applications that require clean transportation because generating hydrogen on-site and using it in a fuel cell vehicle is totally emission-free.

In addition, FCEVs can be made smaller than conventional electric cars because of the higher power density of hydrogen as an energy carrier (fuel cell stack efficiency increases with pressure). The reduced size of the propulsion system would not only make FCEVs cheaper to produce but also allow for a smaller battery pack and potentially even have room for more sensors, cameras, radars, and processors.

This would make FCEVs particularly well suited to support fully autonomous vehicles by providing the power necessary to operate all of the systems on board in an efficient manner that ensures long-range between fueling. The only exception is large mass transit/commercial transport applications as hydrogen fuel stations remain very scarce.

FCEVs vs Battery Electric Vehicles

In a traditional battery electric vehicle (BEV), the motor and generator are directly coupled to the power, which means the generator must work as efficiently as possible to provide enough power for acceleration and climbing hills. This limits how much energy regeneration can be recaptured during deceleration or braking since regenerative braking is limited by the power that can be generated at that speed.

BEVs have to carry enough battery capacity for the long driving range, which means larger and more expensive batteries. In order to compensate for this additional weight, BEVs need bigger (and often heavier) motors with higher peak power ratings to handle the additional torque requirements as a result of the increased battery weight. FCEVs, on the other hand, can carry hydrogen tanks with a larger capacity than battery packs because they weigh less.

FCEVs also have a higher acceleration capability than BEVs because of this additional power from the fuel cell stack as well as the ability to carry larger and heavier fuel tanks. This would be particularly beneficial in fully autonomous vehicles where there may be a lot of stop-and-go traffic.

FCEVs and Autonomous Intelligent Driving Systems

There are currently three different levels of autonomous vehicles. Each level requires more sophisticated and complex technologies than the previous to be successful.

● Level 1 is considered “hands-on” driving where you have to keep your hands on the wheel at all times.

● Level 2 is considered “hands-off” where you can read or send text messages, but you must always keep your eyes on the road and you have to be ready at all times to take control of the vehicle.

● Level 3 is considered “mind off” where you can take a nap, read a book or watch a movie but you must still be prepared to take over if necessary.

FCEVs are ideally suited for Level 3 autonomous driving because they have long-range and can easily refuel between autonomous driving periods.

Hydrogen Cars Can Be Easier to Manufacture than Electric Cars

FCEVs are simpler vehicles when it comes to the number of parts that are required to assemble them– what’s known as their “fit for purpose”. Because hydrogen is a gas at room temperature, you don’t have to package it in batteries or fuel tanks and control their cooling. This means that FCEVs can be made smaller, which also makes them cheaper and simpler to manufacture.

Ironically, this simplicity is one of the reasons why there are so few hydrogen cars on the road today as compared to electric vehicles which require battery manufacturing facilities and control systems to maintain and charge them.

Final Thoughts

FCEVs are particularly well suited for supporting fully autonomous driving even though they don’t have widespread availability of a hydrogen fueling infrastructure. Despite being better suited for autonomous vehicles, FCEVs can still provide substantial benefits in terms of cost with fewer parts throughout the vehicle from powertrain to fuel tanks.

In the future, hydrogen will likely be a necessary component in the energy infrastructure to support autonomous vehicles as well as battery-electric and traditional gasoline/diesel vehicles. To learn more please reach out and speak to Martin



Articles Autonomous Vehicles Technology

Long Range Commercial Drone Control in 5G Wireless Technology

In regards to long range commercial drone control, according to wireless technology company Qualcomm, “5G connectivity will enable a worldwide boom in drone use, for fun, research, and business.” But for now, U.S. drone activity is limited to line-of-sight control. Regulations will need to catch up to the fast-developing enable the future of long range commercial drone control.

“A Highway in the Sky”


Research on the control of drones parallels work being done on autonomous vehicle technology. Dr. Harita Joshi of the University of Warwick spoke to Telecom TV about the development of ultra-reliable and low latency 5G networks that would allow for accurate communication with self-driving cars. Others are talking about “self-flying aircraft”.

China Mobile used the term “flying automotive” when referring to the 5G drone network they were testing with Ericsson in 2016. Achieving end-to-end latency of 15 milliseconds, their 5G drone was able to make handovers between towers shared with normal cell phone users.Commercial long range drone control is in deep development.  Take Alphabet (aka Google) who’s been working on ways to deliver mobile connectivity from the air. In 2014 they bought Titan Aerospace and turned it into Project Skybender.

The aim was to launch a fleet of lightweight, solar-powered drones that would fly in the upper atmosphere for up to 90 days at a time.  Alphabet abandoned Skybender in 2016, preferring to concentrate on the use of balloons through their Project Loon.  Another venture in long range drone control is Qualcomm, who want their unmanned aerial system (UAS) to be autonomous through development of UAS Traffic Management (UTM) controls.  Director of Marketing Maged Zaki blogged about the “Path to 5G: Building a highway in the sky for autonomous drones”. “When UTM systems are deployed, we envision fleets of drones flying missions autonomously while connected to operators and regulators.”

Reaching Long Range Commercial Drone Control


No one wants to worry about drones falling from the sky. The FAA in the U.S. has restricted drone usage to Visual Line of Sight (VLOS). However, in 2016 the FAA granted an Extended Visual Line of Sight (EVLOS) operations waiver to commercial drone company Precision Hawk.

But for Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) control of drones, operators need something more for long range commercial drone control. “Many of the anticipated benefits of drones, including delivery, inspections and search-and-rescue will require a highly secure and reliable connection,” said Qualcomm’s Chris Penrose, senior vice president, IoT Solutions, AT&T, according to a press release.


Dr. Joshi underscored in her interview the problem of latency and the need to service vehicles traveling at high speeds. The ITU published “IMT Vision”, a paper about 5G, in which they addressed these issues:  IMT-2020 would be able to provide 1 ms over-the-air latency, capable of supporting services with very low latency requirements. IMT-2020 is also expected to enable high mobility up to 500 km/h with acceptable QoS.

To achieve the goals of long range commercial drone control, researchers are experimenting with a range of bandwidth called millimeter-wave radio. The new band spans from 30 to 300 gigahertz.

Way back in 1895 the polymath Jagadish Chandra Bose was experimenting in this spectrum. An August 2014 article in IEEE Spectrum tells the story: The intrepid scientist “sent a 60-GHz signal through three walls and the body of the region’s lieutenant governor to a funnel-shaped horn antenna and detector 23 meters away. As proof of its journey, the message triggered a simple contraption that rang a bell, fired a gun, and exploded a small mine.”

Despite the early research, attempts at harnessing millimeter-wave frequencies turned out to be extremely expensive and infeasible. The spectrum propagated poorly between towers and was scattered by rain.  “The huge advantage of millimeter wave is access to new spectrum because the existing cellphone spectrum is overcrowded,” says Jacques Rudell of the University of Washington. The Guardian writer Mark Harris wrote about it when he broke the story “Project Skybender: Google’s secretive 5G internet drone tests revealed” in 2016. Despite Skybender’s demise, plans to harness millimeter-wave technology continue.

Bold Long Range Commercial Drone Control Projections


Hobbyists have taken to drones as a new tech toy, but other use cases will contribute to the drone boom. Companies like Alphabet hope to deliver internet to remote and under-served areas. Drones are useful in disaster recovery, search-and-rescue, and hazardous material situations. Amazon has already done long-range test deliveries.  Pizza delivery by drone is not far away. And drone racing – like the 2016 World Drone Racing Championships in Hawaii – is a growing sport.

AT&T Foundry offered “10 Bold Projections on the Future of Drones”. These include swarming technology, onboard analytics, IoT support, AI and robotics, and the use of drones for dynamic communications networks.  Whatever commercial applications await drone technology, it’s clear that they will be dependent on secure, fast, and reliable communications. 5G technology will likely play a significant role in the evolution of long range drone control.

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