Rolls Royce and EasyJet set new aviation milestone with the world’s first modern engine run on hydrogen

Rolls Royce and EasyJet set new aviation milestone with the world’s first modern engine run on hydrogen

Picture: Rolls Royce

Rolls Royce has partnered with EasyJet to power an aircraft engine on hydrogen fuel in afirst for the aviation industry. 

The trial took place at the Ministry of Defence’s Boscombe down site in Amesbury, Wiltshire, using a converted Rolls-Royce AE 2100-A regional aircraft. The two companies have said that the ground test was a “major step” towards proving that hydrogen could be a zero-carbon aviation fuel.  

The partnership between EasyJet and Rolls-Royce was formed in July with the aim of demonstrating that hydrogen could be used in a range of aircraft from the mid-2030’s onwards. 

Both companies have pledged to reach net zero for carbon emissions by 2050. 

EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren described the test as “a real success for our partnership team”. 

He continued to say: “We are committed to continuing to support this ground-breaking research because hydrogen offers great possibilities for a range of aircraft, including easyJet-sized aircraft. That will be a huge step forward in meeting the challenge of net zero by 2050.” 

The joint venture still plans further work before setting off on a ground test of a Rolls-Royce Pearl 15 engine, which is a model used to power business jets. 

Rolls-Royce chief technology officer Grazia Vittadini said: “The success of this hydrogen test is an exciting milestone. We only announced our partnership with easyJet in July and we are already off to an incredible start with this landmark achievement. We are pushing the boundaries to discover the zero carbon possibilities of hydrogen, which could help reshape the future of flight.” 

China’s first private 5G licence goes to aircraft manufacturer

China’s first private 5G licence goes to aircraft manufacturer

Original article from Total Telecom

The spectrum allocation by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information and Technology could be the beginning of the end for Chinese telco dominance in the field of industrial 5G.

In something of a surprise announcement, this week, the Chinese government has announced its first private 5G spectrum allocation for a non-telco, awarding the licence to Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (Comac).

Founded back in 2008, Comac is China’s only domestic jet aircraft manufacturer. Since then, it has been developing the Comac C919, a narrow-body airliner able to carry between 156 and 168 passengers.

After years in development, the first flights of this new plane took place in 2017, with the airliner finally receiving its airworthiness certification just two months ago.

According to the company website, Comac has already received 815 C191 orders from 28 customers.

The government hopes that allocating Comac spectrum licences in the 6GHz and 25GHz bands will allow the manufacturer to fully incorporate the latest technologies into the C191 manufacturing process, such AI and robotic automation, which relies on the high capacity, low latency connectivity delivered by 5G.

Indeed, the Chinese government has been striving for international leadership in smart manufacturing and the emerging Industry 4.0 for a number of years now, offering major subsidies for a number of key industries. This strategy appears to be paying off; last year, the World Economic Forum’s Global Lighthouse Network: Reimagining Operations for Growth report identified 69 factories globally viewed as world-leading in this regard, 20 of which were in China.

5G, naturally, is expected to play a major role in facilitating this transition to next generation manufacturing.

“The innovative development of 5G+ industrial internet enables enterprises to improve quality, reduce costs, increase efficiency, and promote green and safe development. It also paves a new path for upgrading traditional industrial technologies and speeds up the implementation and popularization of new production methods,” said Zhang Yunming, vice minister of the MIIT. “Work will be done to establish standards for 5G factories fully connected by the Internet industry.”

This is the first private 5G licence in China to be allocated to a non-telco, spurring speculation that the government will now move forward with more industrial licences in the near future.

However, it should be noted that, for most industrial players, deploying and managing their own private 5G network is a significant challenge, one they would likely rather see handled by a telco partner in some form or another.

The state-owned Comac, in this sense, may be something of a special case, with the development of China’s first jet a matter of great national significance, hence warranting special treatment.

The telcos themselves, on the other hand, see industrial 5G as a key new revenue stream and an opportunity to monetise 5G effectively – something they have largely failed to do in the consumer space. As such, they will be loath to relinquish any share of the private 5G market as a result of direct spectrum allocation and will hope this government allocation is something of an anomaly and not an indication of a major shift in policy.


Original article written by Harry Baldock
Siemens announces partnership with Electromin to supply EV chargers

Siemens announces partnership with Electromin to supply EV chargers

Picture and press release: Petromin

Siemens has announced a partnership with Electromin to supply electric vehicle chargers for the development of a Kingdom and region-wide charging networks. 

The company has said that the agreement will ensure supplies of Siemen’s most advanced EV infrastructure technology for Electromin’s network, including the ultra-fast Sicharge D chargers that use direct, current and the smart Versicharge AC wall or pole mounted units that run on alternating current. 

“Electromin’s eMaaS solutions are contributing to the development of the Saudi EV ecosystem, and this partnership with Siemens will allow us to provide the charging infrastructure and technology necessary to boost adoption of EVs in the Kingdom,” said Kalyana Sivagnanam, GCEO of Petromin Corporation and CEO Electromin. “The rollout of EV charging points across Saudi Arabia is our first phase of a significant national strategy that extends to 2030 and beyond.” 

Electromin is also said to be developing a consumer app that will allow users to locate public charges, plan their route and book and pay for sessions. 

“We look forward to working with Electromin on this important project that demonstrates our commitment to supporting sustainability programs in Saudi Arabia,” said Karim Mousa, Senior Vice President of eMobility for Siemens in the Middle East. “Electric vehicles are the key technology to decarbonize road transport, and Siemens is proud to provide the infrastructure that accelerates the growth of EVs and contributes to the Saudi Green Initiative.” 

Saudi Arabia is now committed to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2060. The governments wants three of every 10 vehicles in the Saudi capital Riyadh to be EVs by 2030. 

InCitu gains $2M in support to democratise city planning using Augmented Reality

InCitu gains $2M in support to democratise city planning using Augmented Reality

InCitu has announced $1 million in funding support from Smidt Futures, in addition to another $1 million from other notable investors and initial customer traction.  

The company enables informative public-facing AR visualisations of proposed and upcoming development projects, with customers across the US comprising cities, real estate developers, technology companies, and other stakeholders in the future of urban development. 

“City planning is too slow, obscure, and expensive for the pace of development required in cities today,” said Dana Chermesh-Reshef, Founder & CEO of inCitu. “Facing climate change, severe housing shortage, public health threats, mass urbanization and major geo-political shifts, cities worldwide must adapt fast and effectively, but the obsolete systems prevent equity in the design and decision-making process, leading to a lack of trust, collaboration and inclusivity amongst residents and industry professionals.” 

InCitu gives people the opportunity to see how an environment is changing in real-time. The company turns data into informative and accurate visualisations of future buildings and skylines. This information is then made available to technology companies and any individual interested in these visualisations. 

The company has a goal of lowering the tension for city dwellers to access city planning information. All InCitu’s information is accessible via mobile-AR with no special devices required 

“With the support of global leaders in technology and real estate, inCitu is poised to help democratize and revolutionise how citizens visualize the future of their own neighborhoods and cities,” added Chermesh-Reshef. “We are restoring trust and transparency into how cities, developers, communities, and technology companies interact to allow for urban development.” 

The company hopes to drive inclusive, high accessible urban change. 

The City of Charlotte launches new TravelSafety App

The City of Charlotte launches new TravelSafety App

Picture and press release: City of Charlotte

The City of Charlotte’s Department of Transportation has launched the TravelSafety App with a pilot project in South End. 

The app is designed to improve safety for motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists by connecting users to an electronic network of intersection and crosswalk data.  

The app includes features such as a notification to users when traffic light is about to turn green, a red-light warning if users were approaching the intersection to fast, slow speed warning and a cyclist and pedestrian warning.  

“We must work together to improve traffic safety and this app promotes connectivity to each other and to our surroundings,” said Council Member Victoria Watlington. “The app is another tool that will help us improve safety for all people using our roads and I encourage everyone to download the app and use it in the South End pilot project area.” 

The launch of the new app is part of the city’s Vision Zero safety initiative that aims to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries.  

“We are excited to incorporate TravelSafely in Charlotte,” says Justin Carroll, deputy director of CDOT. “It will improve CDOT’s use of cutting-edge technology and connect those who download the app to a network of traffic intersections, pedestrian beacons, motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.” 

CDOT has entered a partnership with Charlotte Center City Partners to ensure residents and visitors in the South End area are aware of the opportunity to take part in the pilot.  

A partnership with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department was, according to the city, an important part in making the city’s streets safer.  

“The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department works hand-in-hand with our partners at CDOT to address transportation safety and we are excited about the potential of the TravelSafely app to make the roads and sidewalks of South End safer places to walk, run, bike and drive,” says CMPD Major Dave Johnson. “Leveraging technology is the future of traffic safety and piloting this app positions Charlotte at the cutting edge.” 

Residents are encouraged to download the app and take advantage of the benefits of the audible alerts within the South End pilot area through November 2023. The free app is available for download on Apple App Store and Google Play Store. 

LG Chem announces $3 million investment to build battery cathode factory in Tennessee

LG Chem announces $3 million investment to build battery cathode factory in Tennessee

South Korea’s LG Chem has announced that it will invest more than $3 billion to build a battery cathode factory in Tennessee as it continues to meet demands for U.S electric vehicle components.  

The company has said that it is one of the first major EV-related investments announced by a South Korean firm in the United States since a new U.S law was passed in August that puts automakers and battery suppliers relying heavily on China for sourcing at a cost disadvantage.  

The plant is said to have an annual production capacity of 120,000 tons of cathode materials by 2027 which would be enough to power about 1.2 million electric vehicles. 

LG Chem has also said that it is pursuing cooperation with mining firms and recycling companies to better support its customers so that the requirements of the new Inflation reduction Act can be met. 

The Inflation Reduction Act will, among other measures, require from next year that at least 40% of the monetary value of critical minerals for batteries be from the United States or an American free-trade partner in order to qualify for U.S tax credits, according to Reuters.  

LG Chem’s new plant will make cathodes for batteries with nickel, cobalt, manganese and aluminum chemistry. The NCMA battery, which is about 90% nickel, allows manufacturers to reduce their reliance on expensive cobalt, and reduce their exposure to refining and processing in China. 

EVR Motors partners with EKA Mobility to design electric motors for e-buses

EVR Motors partners with EKA Mobility to design electric motors for e-buses

EVR Motors has announced that it has partnered with India’s EKA mobility, to design small, lightweight electric motors for their e-buses and Light Commercial Vehicles in India.  

The new agreement states that EVR will design and develop electric motors for EKA, based on EVR’s proprietary Trapezoidal Stator Radial Flux Permanent Magnet (TS-RFPM) motor, and EKA will manufacture these e-motors and integrate them in the vehicles it provides to the Indian market. EVR will support the setup of EKA’s assembly line. 

The EVR motor generates increased magnetic flux and reduces flux leakage due to its Trapezoidal teeth and windings features. Compared to standard motors, EVR’s electric motors are 30%-50% lighter and smaller, cost significantly less, and can be tailored to user requirements, says the company. 

EVR is now developing a variety of motors for multiple mobility applications including Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicles, hybrid vehicles, and full battery vehicles. 

Recently, EKA Mobility launched its 9-meter electric bus, which provides a solid platform for sustainable and efficient public transport in cities around the world, along with reliable and profitable operations for customers. 

The company also has plans to launch a range of light vehicles that will offer a 50% reductio in the total cost of ownership. 

The partnership with EKA is EVR’s third collaboration agreement in India. EVR announced commercial agreements with two prominent Indian Tier-1 suppliers—Napino Auto & Electronics and with Badve Engineering earlier this year. In addition to this, EVR has announced its entrance into the Japanese market, following a distribution agreement with Tsukasa Electric. 

Redwood Materials to supply Panasonic with cathode material in new deal

Redwood Materials to supply Panasonic with cathode material in new deal

Picture: Redwood Materials

Redwood is set on a mission to build and expand the production of battery components, anode and cathode, in the U.S and aims to produce them from an ever-increasing amount of recycled content. 

The company have said that they will be making major investments within the U.S and will be spending billions of dollars to scale their technology and facilities in the next few years to bring cathode online and ramp production to 100 GWh which would be enough for 1 million EVs by 2025.  

By 2030, Redwood expects the production of both anode and cathode to scale to 500 GWh per year of materials, enough to power five million electric vehicles. 

Panasonic has now announced that it will source Redwood’s cathode for battery cell production in Panasonics new Kansas plant, targeted to come online in 2025. This will be the first-time cathode has been produced in North America at the Gigafactory scale and used in U.S battery cell manufacturing, a critical milestone for the domestic supply chain and one of the key objectives of the recent Inflation Reduction Act. 

Redwood will supply U.S battery cell manufacturers with strategic battery materials produced domestically. By ramping up a domestic battery materials supply chain and using the highest possible percent of local, recycled raw materials is the easiest way for the U.S to meet their 2030 goals of 50% EV sales. 

The future of drone delivery: why are companies investing into drone technology?

The future of drone delivery: why are companies investing into drone technology?

Drone deliveries are now not too far from becoming a scalable and global transportation network for goods such as fast food and medical supplies. Gone will be the day when we have to jump into our cars or hop onto an airplane to get what we need: everything will be delivered right to your doorstep. 

Drone delivery services have shown enough potential that Amazon, UPS, Volkswagen and other major companies are labelling it as the future of last mile delivery. Other influential companies are beginning to test drone delivery services around the world.  

Just last week, Wing announced a partnership with Australian supermarket giant Coles to deliver small items via drone to customers close to a Gold Coast supermarket. The company is already located in parts of Canberra and Logan, Queensland. 

According to the world Economic forum, 85 million packages and documents are delivered around the world daily. 

Given the success of global trials so far, many are wondering when drone delivery will become mainstream and whether it can be scaled up geographically. Like many other technical developments, the answer depends on many factors. Testing drone delivery services and delivery systems will arguably solve the problem of last mile delivery. 


Why Drone Delivery? 

The commercial drone market is expected to soar from $8.15 billion this year to nearly $47.4 billion by 2029, according to Fortune Business Insights Report.  

One of the major catalysts for increasing demand for drone delivery is COVID-19, as drones were able to deliver vaccines to remote areas. The study also saw an increase in remote workers ordering takeaways and making continuous delivery requests for food and goods.  

Although the pandemic boosted delivery, already, last mile delivery makes up nearly half of the total cost of shipping, with the projected market expected to reach close to $50 million in 2029 . Drones, therefore, could offer a cost-effective solution. 

On average it is estimated that the price of delivering a 3kg grocery parcel will be $5 or less. This is probably not much less than what someone would pay for traditional delivery methods, however, this reduces emissions and is a fast method of delivery.

Delivery giants such as Amazon and UPS are already considering the potential of what drone delivery can bring. 

“As an innovation-driven company, we’re always looking for more efficient ways to get packages to the right place, at the right time, and in the right condition. Drones represent just one of the delivery methods that we’ve been exploring,” said a spokesperson from UPS. 

“These methods shift over time as pilot programmes give us a better understanding of where drones and other new delivery methods are best deployed. Some recent examples where UPS has used drones to make deliveries include UPS Flight Forward helping to make COVID-19 vaccine deliveries in North Carolina using cold chain packaging developed specifically for drones. Similarly in the healthcare space, UPS used drones to deliver prescription medicines from a pharmacy to a retirement community in Florida, home to more than 135,000 residents.” 

“We’re also exploring the use of eVTOL, or electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft. These are piloted aircraft that are quieter than conventional aircraft and would be able to land on-property at UPS facilities, reducing time-in-transit for packages, as well as vehicle emissions and operating cost.” said UPS to MOVE.  

Furthermore, UPS is not the only delivery service harnessing the potential of drone delivery. Matternet was the world’s first delivery drone to be issued FAA Type Certification.

“Matternet designs, builds, and operates drone delivery in urban and suburban areas in partnership with healthcare and logistics organizations. We believe drones aren’t just a means of delivery – they’re an opportunity to make a positive impact on our society. Our focus is making sure that technology is used where it’s most needed — in the health sector — ensuring quick and reliable delivery of time-sensitive medical and laboratory cargo. Matternet’s health-centric approach is a game changer in America,” said Andreas Raptopoulos, CEO and Founder of Matternet. 

He continued: “Our recent FAA Type Certification means that Matternet is the first commercial drone system in the U.S. to meet the FAA’s strict safety and airworthiness criteria. This landmark accomplishment sets us apart from other drone delivery providers and provides a clear path forward for our U.S. delivery services. This vote of confidence in Matternet’s aircraft means we are the only company ready for scaled and relevant commercial operation in the U.S.”

Back in 2019, Matternet and UPS partnered to launch drone delivery services in the US and together started the first revenue drone delivery operations in the US.


The first drone deliveries: 

Back in November 2016, drone delivery pizza became a reality when Domino’s, alongside its drone delivery partner Flirtey, delivered an order to a customer’s home in New Zealand  

Using a team of drone experts and a pilot that autonomously controlled Flirtey’s DRU Drone, through GPS navigation, the pizza was quickly delivered to the door. 

Additionally, in 2019, Wing launched America’s first commercial drone delivery service to homes in Virginia. Three drones were deployed with one carrying chocolate, one with medicine and the other a winter vest. They autonomously flew to three different customers. The launch of this service was made possible by the Air Carrier Certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration. This was the first of its kind.

A year later, Manna Aero began a drone delivery service in Moneygall, Ireland during the height of the pandemic. The company began delivering medicine to vulnerable people in their homes, providing a clear example of how technology is helping save and shape lives.  

Many other companies soon followed, and began offering vaccination delivery services, even post-pandemic. UPS has created the UPS Foundation to help speed up delivery of vaccines not just in the UK, but across the globe. 

“Our charitable arm, The UPS Foundation, also plays a key role in helping to accelerate vaccine equity and health systems’ capacity in remote areas of Africa, partly through the use of drones, in partnership with organizations like CARE®, Gavi, UNICEF, Zipline and Swoop Aero.” said a spokesperson at UPS 

Matternet’s use of drones, especially in the partnership with UPS along with other health systems, to transport medical samples, vaccines and prescription drugs, is revolutionising delivery of goods.

“UPS started delivering medical samples via our unmanned drones at WakeMed’s hospital in Raleigh, NC in 2019. Since then, they have used our drones to deliver COVID-19 vaccines to Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist medical center,” said Andreas Raptopoulos, CEO and Founder of Matternet.  

These partnerships are proof of the success and positive impact that drones can bring to healthcare systems. We see unmanned vehicles as a solution to significant infrastructure issues that affect critical services like healthcare.” 


What is the future of drone delivery? 

The drone delivery market has set its ambitions on tackling the issues associated with last-mile delivery. In the healthcare sector, it is set to be a key element of delivering medical goods.  

The autonomous last-mile delivery model has proven itself to be effective, positive and scalable. Using autonomous drone deliveries, depots and parcel stations can deliver a model that is financially sustainable and is better for the environment.  

Many major companies are already fully committed to the race with Amazon announcing in June that California would see its first Prime Air drone deliveries later this year. It is also said to be working closely with the US Federal Aviation Administration and other regulators in order to earn an FAA air carrier certificate.

“As more companies receive Type Certification, we can expect to see an influx of activity in the drone delivery space. We anticipate that drone delivery will become the norm in many aspects of delivering goods and services. Drones will ultimately impact our entire approach to efficiency within society in an environmentally friendly way.” said Matternet Founder and CEO.  

This technology evidently provides a faster and more sustainable way for people to get what they need when they need it without contributing to CO2 emissions and road congestion. The drone industry has found momentum after the pandemic and will continue to grow into commercialisation.

To find out more about Matternet click here.

To find out more about UPS click here.

Wing announces partnership with DoorDash to pilot drone delivery in Australia

Wing announces partnership with DoorDash to pilot drone delivery in Australia

Picture: Wing

Today, Wing has announced that it will be taking the first step towards opening their platforms so Wing’s drone delivery service can be accessed through third party apps.

They will be partnering with global on-demand delivery leader DoorDash for a pilot project in Australia.

Selected customers in Logan, Australia will be able to order a range of convenience and grocery items, pantry staples, snacks, and household essentials directly through the DoorDash App and have them delivered by a Wing drone, typically in 15 minutes or less, says the company’s press release. Initially available to a small number of households, but will gradually expand availability in the coming months.

This is a great step forward towards building a drone delivery service that is highly integrable and capable of scaling quickly. Wing have already begun scaling their operations, moving them closer to retailers.

In Australia, the company has set up a drone delivery hub on the rooftop of a local shopping center. In Dallas, they have evolved this concept into their first “store-to-door” operation and have just recently announced the expansion of this model to Australia’s Gold Coast.

Wing has said that they see this new functionality as a “logical step on this journey to make drone delivery a plug-and-play option for more businesses and consumers – no matter what app they use.”

NEOM announces $175 million investment in Volocopter

NEOM announces $175 million investment in Volocopter

Picture: NEOM

NEOM has announced a $175 million series E investment in Volocopter, a pioneer in Urban Air Mobility. The land of the future giga project will take a significant equity stake in the company as part of its strategic engagement with global eVTOL industry, positioning it at the forefront of future mobility solutions.  

The company has said that this deal will expand NEOM’s strategic partnership with Volocopter to progress an advanced air mobility industry in Saudi Arabia. This builds on the joint venture launched between the two companies back in December 2021 which will operate electric air taxis in NEOM to connect various regions. 

Nadhmi Al-Nasr, Chief Executive Officer at NEOM, said: “This crucial investment aligns with the ambitious plans announced by HRH the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Chairman of NEOM’s Board of Directors, for the Kingdom to achieve sustainability and to develop NEOM into an accelerator of human progress. It will contribute to taking humanity closer to a new era of mobility – an era defined by zero-emission, electrically-powered vertical take-off and landing vehicles. Together with the Kingdom’s General Authority of Civil Aviation, NEOM and Volocopter will make concepts like air taxis an everyday reality for its residents and visitors. Powerful partnerships such as the one that NEOM is cultivating with pioneering companies like Volocopter will fuel giant leaps forward – not just for the benefit of NEOM and the Kingdom – but for all.” 

NEOM has a unique regional development, and this provides a global living lab for advancing and embedding electric urban air mobility in a multi-modal sustainable transport system. 

Dirk Hoke, CEO at Volocopter, commented: “This is the first time in history that eVTOLs, with their unique characteristics, are being factored into the design of a region that is being built from scratch. This offers a whole new approach to how urban air mobility can increase quality of life in cities. NEOM’s investment bears testament to our leading position as a technology pioneer in the race to become the first company to break into the emerging urban air mobility market.” 

NEOM and Volocopter are working in close collaboration with Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation to implement a national test bed for Audi Arabia to enable the integration of eVTOLs with zero-emission future urban mobility. 

Calgary partners with Morrow Batteries to develop high voltage battery separator technologies

Calgary partners with Morrow Batteries to develop high voltage battery separator technologies

Picture: PR Newswire

Celgard, a subsidiary of Polypore International, has announced that it has entered into a multi-year joint development agreement with Morrow Batteries.  

The two companies will work together to develop, test, and commercialise the next generation dry-process battery separators that will be used in high-voltage battery cells with lithium nickel manganese oxide cathode material for electric vehicle and energy storage applications.  

Separator development activities are already underway between Celgard and Morrow. Commerical production will begin at Morrow’s battery cell gigafactory at Eyde Energy Park in Arendal, Norway, in 2024, says the company’s press release. 

“For over half a century Celgard has been at the forefront of membrane technology, we are very excited to join forces with them to commercialize separators for Morrow’s next generation high- voltage batteries. The partnership with Celgard provides a framework to speed up the development of our LNMO- based products and it is a big step towards Morrow’s goal of being a global leader in cost and sustainability.” said Rahul Fotedar, chief technology officer of Morrow.  

Under the agreement, Morrow will exclusively use Celgard propriety dry-process membrane separators, developed under the agreement, in high-voltage batteries produced at its Gigafactory. Morrow has committed to undisclosed annual purchase volumes. 

Additionally, Lie Shi, Asahi Kasei global head of separator business development and executive vice president of Polypore, added the following: “We are excited to partner with Morrow to develop and showcase Celgard® next generation membrane separators for high-voltage battery cells manufactured at their battery Gigafactory and we look forward to further advancing electric vehicle technology with Morrow in Europe.”  

FREE NOW Europe integrates public transport tickets into its app

FREE NOW Europe integrates public transport tickets into its app

FREE NOW announced at the Web Summit 2022 that users of its Super App can now book public transport services through its app as well as taxis, private cars, eScooters, eBikes, eMopeds, and carsharing. 

The first venture that enabled access to public transport via the FREE NOW app was signed with Rheinbahn in Germany. Users of the app will now be able to book tickets for buses, trams and underground trains directly in the FREE NOW app for all tariff zones of the Rhine-Ruhr Public Transport Association.  

The partnership will now provide access to Europe’s biggest transport network and the largest urban transport area. This will include major cities like Düsseldorf, Dortmund, Essen, Bochum, Wuppertal and Duisburg.  

Initially, users will be able to purchase single tickets, day passes, and 48-hour passes, and the ticket sales are now possible due to a partnership with Dutch aggregator Tranzer.  

“We’re pleased that we’re now the first private mobility platform to be able to offer our users public transport tickets in the biggest population and the largest urban transport area in Europe. This is an important next stage for us and, for the first time, we’re enabling end-to-end ticketing for different modes of transport in our app. Linking different mobility offers is crucial to succeed in transforming transportation in Europe. FREE NOW actively supports this as a partner of public transport. Our goal is to make urban mobility in Europe more sustainable, intelligent, and interconnected.” said Thomas Zimmermann, CEO at FREE NOW. 

The company has said that the new travel options are primarily aimed at remote workers who only travel to their place of work occasionally, as well as business travelers and tourists. 

Further partnerships with other transport companies in Germany and across Europe are said to be planned for 2023. 

Ecopia AI announces statewide mapping initiative in Illinois

Ecopia AI announces statewide mapping initiative in Illinois

Press release and picture: Ecopia

Ecopia AI has announced a new partnership with the Illinois Department of Transportation and the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning to deliver a comprehensive HD map of 26 land cover and transportation features to metropolitan planning organisations throughout the state of Illinois. This will cover the third largest metropolitan area in the United States and an area of over 12,000 square miles. 

The detailed map and its features will ensure that the MPOs have accurate, up-to-date information at scale for decision-making related to transportation, housing, economic development, open space, the environment, and other quality of life issues, says the company’s press release. 

“The partnership with Ecopia empowers us with an unprecedented level of detail and accuracy about northeastern Illinois,” said CMAP Executive Director Erin Aleman. “These comprehensive and up-to-date views of transportation and land cover will help CMAP, and local decision makers drive innovation and develop projects that serve our region’s 8.5 million residents.” 

By utilising its advanced artificial intelligence-based mapping systems, Ecopia will be able to ingest high-resolution geospatial imagery data and output transportation-related map features with high-precision at a large-scale.  

Ecopia is extracting 26 distinct features, including land cover types (roads, sidewalks, crosswalks, etc.) and advanced transportation features (turning lanes, medians, stoplines, etc.) to provide a complete view of the region’s land use and pedestrian mobility network. Digitizing these features manually would have taken the MPOs thousands of hours, but Ecopia is able to extract them all from up-to-date imagery with human-like precision in record time, said the press release. 

“Ecopia is thrilled to deliver IDOT and CMAP with the high quality map data needed for regional and community planning,” added Bill Singleton, VP of Sales at Ecopia. “We are committed to using AI for good, and are proud to be working with the MPOs of Illinois to improve the quality of life for millions of people. IDOT is excited to provide resources to metropolitan planning organizations with an innovative data tool for critical statewide infrastructure,” said Holly Bieneman, Director of IDOT’s Office of Planning & Programming. 

World Cup in Qatar to be powered by Smart solar streetlights

World Cup in Qatar to be powered by Smart solar streetlights

Qatar’s green agenda has taken the forefront in many infrastructural developments ahead of the world cup later this year. The country has decided to install Smart solar streetlights in Doha to boost their sustainability drive.  

The 350 completely off the grid solar streetlights are produced by Texas based company EnGoPlanet and were installed at several locations in Doha. The model, EnGo Leaf, has previously received a prestigious A’ Design award in street Furniture Design and is installed in many places over the world.  

EnGoPlanet’s CEO, Petar Mirovic, commented: “Without these alternatives our future would be bleak, and we are happy to contribute to building smart sustainable cities. Demand for our products is growing, and we are planning to utilize newly adopted Inflation Reduction Act incentives to expand our manufacturing facilities in the US.” 

The press release stated: “The increasing global presence of renewable energy companies like EnGoPlanet reflects the turn towards alternatives and sustainable solutions in order to build Smart Cities of the future.” 

Investment into sustainable infrastructure not only assists Qatar’s rebranding as a green hotspot, but also sends a message to tourists arriving for the World Cup – We don’t have a Planet B. 

Volocopter raises $182 million in Series E funding round

Volocopter raises $182 million in Series E funding round

Picture: Volocopter

Volocopter has announced that it has raised an additional $182 million in the second signing of its Series E funding round. NEOM, the Red Sea’s smart, cognitive region project, and GLy Capital Management of Hong Kong have joined Volocopter’s diverse investor base. 

Volocopter aims to tackle the challenge of sustainable mobility by offering a suite of fully electric aircraft built specifically for urban missions.  

The company has said that Volocopter’s unique and holistic UAM ecosystem approach connects all key global market players as it strives to get the industry off the ground. This is said to include developing multipurpose electric aircraft to bring passengers and goods safely to their destination and enabling physical and digital infrastructure to match. 

“Attracting NEOM And GLy as investors is a great success and highlights our pole position in the commercial certification race. This is the key requirement to launching commercial operations and starting to generate revenue.” said Dirk Hoke, CEO, Volocopter. 

Volovopter has ten years of developmental experience and is a UAM leader and has around 1,500 successful test flights under its belt. Earlier in December 2021, Volocopter and NEOM signed a joint venture, becoming a strategic partner with a view to ingrate the VoloCity air taxi and the VoloDrone into NOEM’s sustainable, smart and seamlessly connected mobility systems. 

“Raising over USD 180 million despite the generally tense economic climate highlights Volocopter’s robust technology strategy and its ongoing progress toward achieving market readiness. We appreciate the remarkable spirit of collaboration and the trust that our existing and new shareholders have placed in us as we forge ahead on our journey to bring the urban air mobility ecosystem to life.” said Christian Bauer, CCO of Volocopter. 

GLy is backed by Geely Holding, a long-term partner of Volocopter. Through their joint venture, Geely and Volocopter aim to bring UAM to China. 

“Volocopter’s vision encompasses industrial short- and medium-range commercial passenger applications to bring efficiency to the way we move around our cities. I look forward to supporting their journey; a journey that promises to be exciting, safe, and scenic in equal measure.” said Hrvoje Krkalo, Co-CEO of GLy Capital. 

Uber launches Infobip AI chatbot on WhatsApp for Delhi riders

Uber launches Infobip AI chatbot on WhatsApp for Delhi riders

Picture: Infobip

Infobip, a global cloud communication platform and leader in omnichannel engagement, has created an AI-powered chatbot for Uber. The chatbot will enable customers to order rides via WhatsApp, creating a seamless booking experience. 

The company has said that it has been built and deployed on WhatsApp for Business platform using Infobip’s chatbot building platform ‘Answers’. The WhatsApp to Ride experience is now available for Uber riders across Delhi-NCR, one of Uber’s top cities globally by volume. 

The launch follows a pilot in Lucknow in December last year where Uber received a significant portion of ride requests from new users, demonstrating potential product market fit. 

Ravi Garg, Director, WhatsApp Partnerships, India said, “After a successful implementation of the ‘WhatsApp to ride’ experience in Lucknow, we are excited to expand WhatsApp’s partnership with Uber and launch this service for users in Delhi NCR. The simplicity of ride-booking experience within the WhatsApp interface has helped Uber acquire new riders and we look forward to supporting them in their growth trajectory,” 

“Uber and businesses across sectors are leveraging the WhatsApp Business Platform to build a variety of scaled custom solutions that help advance customer convenience and enable richer customer engagement. We look forward to continuing building partnerships with businesses to help them unlock avenues of access to new audience cohorts who use WhatsApp extensively every day.” 

WhatsApp is one of the world’s most popular messaging service with more than two billion users globally and some 400 million in India alone. This aided Uber’s decision to use the platform for Infobip’s Answers platform. 

Silvio Kutić, CEO of Infobip said, “Customers are increasingly moving away from an app-only approach. Instead, customers want to communicate with brands using their preferred method. So, businesses need to be where their customers are and provide an end-to-end customer journey within the channels their customers use. We’re delighted to have played a role in building this new WhatsApp chatbot solution for Uber and look forward to seeing its impact now and in the future as its rollout continues. We are even more thrilled as we are the global cloud communication platform provider to both the companies involved – Uber and WhatsApp.” 

It has been estimated that by 2025 80% of customer organisations will have abandoned native mobile apps in favour of omnichannel messaging to deliver a better customer experience. Using this strategy, businesses must meet customers on the apps that they love. 

Volt and Deliver partner to trial e-bikes for riders

Volt and Deliver partner to trial e-bikes for riders

British e-bike brand has announced that it is partnering with the food delivery company Deliveroo to trial subsidised bikes for a group of riders across the UK. 

The trial will be nationwide and will aim to explore the suitability of various buying options for a select group of Deliveroo riders. 

“We are committed to supporting our marketplace and taking action to drive sustainability. By significantly reducing the cost of a new, high spec Volt e-bike, we hope to accelerate the trend towards a greener fleet, reducing carbon emissions while helping to maximise their earnings.” said Paul Bedford, Director of Policy and Sustainability at Deliveroo. 

The bike will be able to travel 70 miles on a single charge and features a built-in suspension and an upright riding position. The batteries are removable and can be swapped out for charging on or off the bike. 

“We look forward to seeing what impact this initial trial period can bring and hope to continue our collaboration into the future and get more riders on alternative more environmentally friendly transport soon.” said James Metcalfe, founder and owner of Volt. 

Deliveroo works with around 180,000 restaurants and grocery partners as well as 180,000 riders. Volt was founded in 2010 by James and his brother Lyle Metcalfe and produces 12 different e-bike models including folding, hybrid, urban and mountain bikes. 

Molex announces state-of-the-art facility in Guadalajara

Molex announces state-of-the-art facility in Guadalajara

Picture: Molex

Molex has today announced a major expansion of its global manufacturing footprint and has opened a new factory in Guadalajara. 

The new facility will be 60,000 square-meter and will aim to increase capacity by an additional 100,000 square meters. This aims to support advanced engineering and large-scale production for automotive, transportation and industrial customers in North America and around the world, said the company. 

“Our history in Mexico spans more than 50 years, earning Molex a strong reputation for developing world-class facilities and engineering talent to deliver customer-focused solutions,” said Mike Bloomgren, SVP, president, Transportation & Industrial Solutions, Molex. “The opening of a new factory in Guadalajara dedicated to transportation customers further enhances our ability to effectively and economically address the most complex challenges in automotive connectivity, battery management, vehicle safety and zonal architectures.” 

The new facility features new tools, technologies and processes. Molex has invested $130 million into this facility and is intended to meet unprecedented demand for interconnect solutions for EVs, Advanced Driver Assistance Systems and connected vehicles. 

Molex has stated that the availability of onsite reliability and metrology lab testing will empower local engineers to improve product designs and speed development cycles. The labs will help to reduce rework costs and time at critical product-development stages. 

Molex plays a vital role in the automotive industry and has created a rich environment to attract and retain highly skilled employees and local talent. The company aims to have 200 employees by the end of the year and to deliver reliability, quality and innovations to ensure flawless connectivity is reached. 

Flowbird and NYCDOT launch improves ParkNYC app

Flowbird and NYCDOT launch improves ParkNYC app

Picture: Flowbird

Flowbird Group, a solution provider for curbside management and urban mobility solutions, has launched the ParkNYC app in New York city to allow motorists to conveniently pay for on-street parking and municipal parking lots using a mobile device. 

“NYCDOT is proud to bring an improved parking experience to New York City motorists. Many busy New Yorkers rely on parking across the city, and the new app makes the payment process more convenient and less time-consuming,” said Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez. 

The new app was implemented by the New York City Department of Transportation and is operated by Flowbird. It features the ability to pay as you go for a parking session and the continued ability to pre-load a ParkNYC wallet.  

This service extends to the tens and thousands of parking locations across five boroughs. The company has said that users are able to check out how much time is remaining, choose to receive a push notification when time is about to expire and extend the maximum time limit without having to return to their vehicle. 

“We are thrilled to expand our long-term partnership with NYCDOT and be part of such a world-class operation to provide better parking solutions for its residents, visitors, and professionals, focusing on user experience and leveraging our global expertise in mobile technology,” said Benoit Reliquet, President, Flowbird America. “After Paris, Stockholm and Hong Kong, we are delighted to contribute to one of the world’s largest and most vibrant urban tech ecosystems in the city that never sleeps. A special thanks go out to all teams involved.” 

New York joins thousands of other towns and cities across the U.S using the Flowbird app. Flowbird continues to provide simple and convenient solutions for parking and mobility