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Amsterdam’s canals to test autonomous boats

A fleet of autonomous boats will start navigating the canals of Amsterdam next year following a research collaboration between AMS and MIT.

The Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions (AMS) in the Netherlands and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the U.S. have joined forces to develop a fleet of autonomous boats, dubbed “roboats”, for Amsterdam’s canals. With a budget of nearly $28 million (€25 million), the five-year “Roboat” project expects the first prototypes of autonomous boats to be tested in Amsterdam in 2017.  It is according to AMS the world’s first major research program on autonomous floating vessels in metropolitan areas.

Roboat’s ambition is to investigate how urban waterways can be used to improve the city’s function and quality of life. “This project imagines a fleet of autonomous boats for the transportation of goods and people that can also cooperate to produce temporary floating infrastructure, such as on-demand bridges or stages that can be assembled or disassembled in a matter of hours,” said Carlo Ratti, professor of the practice of urban technologies in the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP). Because nearly one quarter of Amsterdam is covered by water, the city was deemed an ideal place for developing Roboat.

The project results could have implications far beyond Amsterdam itself though, considering that 80 percent of global economic output is generated around coasts, riverbanks, and deltas. “… Outcomes from the Roboat projects could become a reference for other urban areas around the world and a source of international entrepreneurial initiatives and start-ups in which autonomy enters the marine world,” said MIT.

In addition to infrastructure and transport, Roboat will also monitor water quality through the deployment of environmental sensors and gather data to assess and predict issues related to public health, pollution, and the environment. “By focusing on the water system of the city, Roboat can create opportunities for new environmental sensing methods and climate adaptation. This will help secure the city’s quality of life and lasting functionality,” said Arjan van Timmeren, professor and scientific director at AMS, who added that autonomous boats could also be used to detect diseases at an early stage, to rid the city’s canals from floating waste or to find a better way to handle the 12,000 bicycles that are thrown in the canals each year.

Urban health sensing

Underworlds is another project led by MIT researchers using sensing in sewage water to monitor urban health patterns. Sometimes referred to as a smart sewage platform, Underworlds studies bacteria, viruses, and chemical compounds that live in the human gut and converge in the sew Cambridge, MA, with an ambition to help shape public health strategies. This type of sensing could become an extension of the Roboat project in the future, AMS suggested.

IIoT News recap: U.S. government to issue self-driving car guidelines; U.S. DHS readies Internet of Things security guidelines; Samsung and SK Telecom claim successful handover between 5G base stations; Bosch’s truck of the future a “40-ton smart device on wheels”; Velodyne’s new LIDAR sensor can identify objects at greater distances

autonomous boats
Bosch: VisionX concept truck

Autonomous driving: U.S. government to issue self-driving car guidelines

The U.S. government will be releasing a set of guidelines for self-driving cars on Tuesday, including 15 benchmarks that automakers will have to comply with before their autonomous vehicles can be allowed on roads, Bloomberg reports. The guidelines will require performance assessments performed by automakers to be made public so that regulators and other companies can review them. The guidelines will also include recommendations for states to pass legislation on introducing self-driving cars safely on their highways, according to Bloomberg. The guidelines are to be updated annually.

IoT security: U.S. DHS readies Internet of Things security guidelines

The U.S. government has been busy working on guidelines affecting the Internet of Things (IoT) industry. While the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is about to release guidelines for self-driving cars, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is said to be working on guidelines on IoT security for IoT device makers. According to Security Ledger, the IoT guidelines will be made public on Thursday this week at The Security of Things Forum.

Road to 5G: Samsung and SK Telecom claim successful handover between 5G base stations

SK Telecom and Samsung Electronics announced that they successfully tested inter-cell handover between millimeter wave 5G base stations at 28GHz in outdoor environment. “By securing the millimeter wave handover technology – which enables users to experience seamless provision of 5G services while on the move in a wide area – the two companies are now one step closer to a basis for realizing pre-5G and 5G services,” said Park Jin-hyo, Senior Vice President and Head of Network R&D Center of SK Telecom. “Through our demonstration of handover between mmWave 5G base stations, we have realized a network environment that is the closest by far to the real 5G network to be created in the future,” said Cheun Kyung-whoon, Executive Vice President and Head of Next-Generation Business Team of Samsung Electronics.

Autonomous driving: Bosch’s truck of the future a “40-ton smart device on wheels”

Bosch will be presenting VisionX, a truck of the future concept, at the upcoming IAA Commercial Vehicles show. Running on highly efficient diesel or electricity, the fully connected truck will in some cases also offer autonomous driving. It will be able to navigate on highways, mostly without driver intervention. “The truck of the future will be a 40-ton smart device on wheels,” said Dr. Markus Heyn, member of the board of management of Robert Bosch GmbH. Full technical details are yet to be announced.

Autonomous driving: Velodyne’s new LIDAR sensor can identify objects at greater distances

Light, Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) specialist Velodyne LIDAR announced Puck Hi-Res, a new LIDAR sensor that provides higher resolution in captured 3D images, allowing objects to be identified at greater distances. “Introducing a high-resolution LIDAR solution is essential to advancing any industry that leverages the capture of 3D images, from autonomous navigation to mapping to surveillance,” said Mike Jellen, President and COO at Velodyne LiDAR. “The Puck Hi-Res sensor will provide the most detailed 3D views possible from LIDAR, enabling widespread adoption of this technology while increasing safety and reliability.” Frost & Sullivan expects the 3D imaging market to grow from $5.71 billion in 2015 to $15.15 billion in 2020, with autonomous shuttles for large campuses or airports driving the market. Tesla is one in a handful of auto makers still unconvinced about the benefits of LIDAR implementation in autonomous driving systems.

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