Chancellor George Osborne is expected to announce plans to trial driverless, cutting-edge HGVs on UK motorways. The scheme, which will be outlined in the Budget on March 16, is part of a government initiative to invest millions in automated car technology in a bid to improve efficiency and reducing traffic congestion. According to The Times (£), the first convoy of driverless lorries will be tested on a quiet stretch of the M6 near Carlisle as early as next year.
Up to ten computer-controlled lorries forming a 'platoon' of vehicles will be driven just metres apart with a driver sitting behind the wheel of each one as a precaution.
The trucks communicate through radar and are able to detect the exact distance between one another to form a single formation row.
The Department for Transport has reportedly confirmed the scheme and said it would announce further details "in due course".
However, President of the AA, Edmund King, told the BBC he did not think the hi-tech vehicles would work in the UK.
"The problem with the UK motorway network is that we have more entrances and exits of our motorways than any other motorways in Europe or indeed the world, and therefore it's very difficult to have a 44 tonne 10-lorry platoon, because other vehicles need to get past the platoon to enter or exit the road." Last updated Sun 6 Mar 2016
Such a moment isn’t driven only by the Apple Watch, which the company markets for its self-tracking ability; nor is it entirely the doing of fancy pedometers like Fitbit and Jawbone, or the dubious sleep-quality measuring apps. This moment is also the product of an age of corporate-enforced quantification, whether through metrics-obsessed journalism or employee biometric scanning programs that cost $4,000 to opt out of.
It’s not clear which parts of our measurement moment will prove faddish and which will stick. But in the meantime, new evidence suggests that when we do measure things, we might not enjoy them as much. A new study in the Journal of Consumer Research seems to indicate that measuring an activity, whatever it is, decreases people’s motivation to keep up with it.
In other words, it proposes that the more you quantify something that’s rewarding for its own sake, the less likely you are to enjoy it—and the less likely you are, too, to do more of it. Across a series of experiments, Jordan Etkin, a marketing professor at Duke University, found that people’s intrinsic motivation to do something—whether it be coloring, reading, or walking—declined once it was measured.
Andover is an unlikely location for the home of a robot army, but somewhere in a non-descript warehouse 1,000 or more robots have been bred for a single purpose: shopping.
The robots are not owned by a shopaholic super villain but by online retailer Ocado, and represent the next stage in the firm's efforts to revolutionise the billion pound online shopping market.
And they are not human-like supermarket workers ready to wander along brightly lit aisles loading trolleys, but instead 'bots' (see below) that skim along rails on top of hundreds of thousands of crates containing the 47,000 items Ocado stocks.
The diagram at the top of the page gives an impression of how the entire setup looks as the bots scuttle between the various crates that contain everything from milk and cucumbers to tea bags and cakes, grabbing a box and delivering it to a human who then packs the item for delivery.
The site is now in its final stages of testing before coming online and will have a huge impact on Ocado's revenue generation. Getting to this point was no easy task, though, and required the creation of technologies that didn’t previously exist, as Ocado head of technology 10x David Sharp explained to V3.
“We wanted a very large warehouse with very large numbers of robots roaming around and we needed to be able to control them all, sending and receiving messages several times a second to ensure they don’t collide and know where they are going," he said. “It turned out there were no wireless communications systems that could scale to those demands.”
Network firsts Ocado turned to Cambridge Consultants which set about devising a system that could deal with the challenges. Tim Ensor, head of connected devices at the firm, explained how difficult this was.
“It’s an air traffic control problem: you have to avoid collisions, know where all the robots are and communicate with them all about 10 times a second within a 50 metre radius," he told V3.
Nevertheless they set about creating a wireless environment that uses 4G broadcast technologies in the unlicensed 5GHz Wi-Fi spectrum band, and dubbed it RCOM (Robot Communication).
Ensor claimed that the network is something of a world's first given the scale and scope of what it has achieved.
“We think it’s the most densely packed mobile network in the world with this number of devices in such a small space, all moving around at high speed, and connecting to the backbone so often,” he said.
He underlined that is a great example of a "true industrial internet deployment” by putting sensors into so many objects and continually broadcasting information to and from a central control location.
“The robots also transmit information on how they’re feeling, if they’re overheating or not working properly and so forth,” said Sharp.
It wasn’t just the network that needed designing from scratch. The robots were also designed and developed in-house by Ocado which, perhaps unusually for a supermarket chain, has two in-house robotics teams.
"The robots that move boxes around the hive were designed and developed by an Ocado team working with some specialist manufacturers of complex electromechanical systems," Sharp (pictured) explained.
"We use the word 'hive' to refer to the system comprising the stacks of boxes, the grid structure that keeps the boxes in place and the robots that move around on top of the grid, transporting the boxes around [shown in the diagram above]."
As if this wasn’t enough technology expertise for a supermarket, Ocado also has 700 software engineers, working on everything from supply chain to order routing and ‘cubing’, which works out the order in which products should be picked to avoid the risk of contamination or heavy items crushing smaller ones.
Expansion plans The Andover site is in its final testing phase, and Ocado is already starting work on another site in east London that will be three times bigger and have a staggering 700,000 crates. That’s a lot of robots.
“We’ll probably start with 1,000 robots and then gradually grow over time,” said Sharp, adding that the site will have "multiple thousands" of robots and contribute £1.2bn in revenue to Ocado's business.
However, given what Ocado and Cambridge Consultants have created with the Andover rollout and the network technology it required, the two are now taking the system to market as a service that other retailers can buy and deploy.
“We want to replicate this in other countries and we’re doing that in a couple of ways. The first is to make the hardware designs available to retailers around the world,” said Sharp.
“The other is rewriting our software so it runs in the cloud and can be deployed anywhere in the world. This rapidly enables larger retailers around the world to get up and running.”
Sharp claimed that the Ocado system puts the firm far ahead of the competition as it has created a true online shopping delivery system, something that is far more sophisticated than other systems in use.
“Online grocery delivery is a bigger challenge than online sales, as the typical order has around 50 items, rather than just say a pair of a shoes or a memory stick,” he explained.
“This means Ocado was one of the first companies to go up against the challenge of operating an efficient, automated online grocery business.”
The platform Ocado has developed will mostly be pushed into retail markets, but Sharp did not rule out its spread to other online distribution environments in the future.
“We’ll start in food retail, because the software that we’ve got has had lots of energy and effort put into it for online grocery shopping, but we will look at other market areas where we can use the overall system," he said.
So the next time you see an Ocado delivery van, remember that the contents were not picked by human hands but by an army of robots.
The Raspberry Pi Foundation is celebrating the fourth anniversary of the tiny computer'slaunch with a new model that adds more performance and wireless connectivity for the first time, making the device even better suited for applications involving the Internet of Things (IoT).
The Raspberry Pi 3 Model B is available immediately from Raspberry Pi partners such as Element 14 and RS Components. It is 10 times faster than the original Raspberry Pi, and about twice as fast as last year's Raspberry Pi 2, but still keeps to the original price of about £25.
It also has the same form factor, the same 1GB memory, and the same general purpose I/O specifications as its predecessor. The new Raspberry Pi has been upgraded with a Broadcom BCM2837 SoC that bumps the clock speed up to 1.2GHz. It is based on four 64-bit ARM Cortex-A53 cores for the first time, although the Raspbian Linux that forms the default operating system is still available only in a 32-bit build at present.
However, the major new feature is the inclusion of wireless support. A built-in antenna plus 802.11b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth 4 interfaces are expected to make the device even better suited for IoT applications, which Raspberry Pi Trading and Element 14 see as a key area for the device. "We think this is very exciting now that we have Bluetooth 4 and Bluetooth Low Energy support, which will position the Raspberry Pi well as an IoT hub in future," said Eben Upton, Raspberry Pi Foundation founder and chief executive of Raspberry Pi Trading.
Bluetooth Low Energy is a second low-power wireless interface added to the Bluetooth 4.0 specifications that is used to connect to small battery-powered devices such as sensors.
"I think that many will want to get their hands on the Raspberry Pi 3 to try out the extra speed and onboard wireless functionality," said Richard Curtin, director for strategic alliances at Element 14.
Element 14 launched a custom manufacturing service for hardware based on the Raspberry Pi in October last year. Curtin said that this is going well and that many designs are already in progress targeting IoT applications.
"Many have related to the IoT, whether as a gateway device or an industrial controller, so we see massive potential for this in the future with the new Raspberry Pi 3," he added.
One firm on hand to support the Raspberry Pi 3 launch was Microsoft. Dan Rosenstein, the firm's principal technical programme manager, demonstrated a Raspberry Pi running Windows 10 IoT Core controlling a spinning wheel and keeping it at a constant speed through feedback from a sensor.
The launch of the Raspberry Pi 3 comes just a year after the Raspberry Pi 2, but Upton explained that the new model is likely to be around for longer, and that he does not want to get into a situation where people expect an upgraded model every year, as in the smartphone market.
However, he said that there will be a new version of the Raspberry Pi Compute Module based on the Raspberry Pi 3 hardware in the near future, and a Raspberry Pi 3 Model A to complement the Model B launched today.
"When the Raspberry Pi 2 launched, all the available chips got pulled into Model B production, and we didn't get around to a Compute Module or a Model A based on that," Upton explained.
He also said that, while it is pleasing to see the device getting a lot of attention in the hobbyist and industrial markets, the educational side of Raspberry Pi is still at the Foundation's heart.
"It could be easy to get carried away selling to adult hobbyists and the industrial market, but we are seeing children find the Raspberry Pi exciting and a useful path into computing," he said.
"The whole reason we got into this is that people weren't applying for computer science courses anymore. We're starting to see that reverse now, and we believe the Raspberry Pi is partly responsible," he said.
Kanye West, after reportedly considering legal action against The Pirate Bay for facilitating mass piracy of his new album The Life of Pablo, has seemingly been caught trying to pirate some music software from The Pirate Bay.
Early Wednesday morning, Kanye tweeted a photo that showed him listening to Sufjan Stevens on YouTube. If you look closely at Kanye's browser tabs, however, you can see that prior to watching the video he was researching—and possibly attempting to download—some advanced wavetable synthesiser software called Serum.
Deadmau5, music producer and co-founder of Xfer Records, which makes Serum, was not amused by Kanye's actions. "What the fuck @kanyewest ... Can't afford serum? Dick," he tweeted. A few minutes later he followed up with this zinger: "Let's start a Kickstarter to help @kanyewest afford a copy of Serum."
Amusingly, Kanye also seems to have a MacKeeper tab open, along with two more tabs—Media Downloader and (1) Attention!—that are probably up to no good. Perhaps those tabs were just automatic pop-ups from his visit to The Pirate Bay, though. (Also, while we're at it, it doesn't look like Kanye was actually using The Pirate Bay in this instance, but rather another piracy site that also calls itself The Pirate Bay, which probably gets its files from The Pirate Bay.)
Kanye's new album was exclusively available on Tidal, driving up pirate downloads. As for why Kanye was looking to pirate Serum, which retails for $190/£140, it isn't clear. The artist has previously stated that, despite being one of the most successful artists of the last two decades, he's actually $53 million in debt. But this is Kanye; he has access to some of the best recording studios in the world. Maybe he wanted to try the software out before he bought it. Or maybe Kanye, like every other human out there, just likes free stuff.
Kanye hasn't yet responded to the hundreds of angry tweets that he received last night, but hopefully he'll soon take to Twitter to explain the incriminating photo.
In February, Kanye West was reportedly considering legal action against The Pirate Bay after his new album, The Life of Pablo, was downloaded almost a million times in under a week. The Life of Pablo is exclusively available via the subscription streaming service Tidal, which is probably why the album was pirated so many times. And yes, it is ironic that Kanye opened up YouTube to listen to Sufjan Stevens, rather than using Tidal (which he is a co-owner of, incidentally, along with some other big artists including Deadmau5...)
Top-of-the-range Range Rover towed the SpaceShipTwo - named VSS Unity - at global reveal
Virgin Galactic’s new spaceship was revealed to the world with the help of Coventry car maker Jaguar Land Rover.
A top-of-the-range Range Rover Autobiography with Sir Richard Branson on board towed the SpaceShipTwo, named VSS Unity, at the global unveiling in the Mojave Air and Space Port event in California.
A fleet of Land Rover vehicles currently provides support for the Virgin Galactic teams in California and New Mexico and are set to play a key role assisting future astronauts once commercial operations get under way.
Land Rover and Virgin Galactic announced a partnership in April 2014 and among other things the companies are developing a number of STEM educational programmes to inspire the next generation of engineers
Guests at the unveiling ceremony included Virgin Galactic’s stakeholders, VIP guests and future astronaut customers.
The event also marked the special official naming moment of the new SpaceShipTwo, with Stephen Hawking announcing the name VSS Unity via a specially recorded message.
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Stephen Attenborough, commercial director at Virgin Galactic, said: “Since our partnership began in April 2014, Land Rover has become an integral part of the team’s day to day operating environment in Mojave.
“Therefore it was fitting that the Range Rover Autobiography took a staring role as our new SpaceShipTwo, Unity, made its global debut.
“We’re looking forward to more collaborations across the business including STEM programmes as well as engineering, design and product initiatives.”
Mark Cameron, global brand experience director at Land Rover, said: “This is a significant milestone for Virgin Galactic, and we are proud to be part of it.
“Helping the team unveil the new SpaceShipTwo not only reflects our supporting role in the Virgin Galactic programme but it was also an impressive display of the Range Rover’s towing capability.
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“But we have partnered with Virgin Galactic for many more reasons than simply providing and promoting a fantastic range of SUVs.
“We share the same long-term vision to invest in innovative design and technology to help us go further and achieve more.
“Not simply to enable mankind to explore, but to develop this partnership to inspire others.
“From our tens of thousands of employees and customers to schools and colleges, motivating more young people to pursue careers in engineering, science and technology - and explore new ways of travelling for future generations. This is a very special match of brands based around a shared vision.”
It's common knowledge that hospitals can be hit with data breaches that reveal personal information or fall victim to "ransomware" attacks that take their computer systems hostage.
But an eye-opening new report from Independent Security Evaluators now says that malicious hackers have the capability to kill patients by taking over computer systems that track delivery of medicine or manage requests for blood work.
Fortunately a patient death has never been caused by a cyber criminal, but the report seems to be a wakeup call for the healthcare industry, which has so far been ill-prepared to deal with "very real" threats to patients' lives, according to ISE founder Steve Bono.
Using an "adversary-centric perspective" to security, the Baltimore-based ISE, backed by an advisory board of healthcare and information security experts, assessed 14 healthcare facilities and data centers in various states, along with medical device and healthcare websites over a two-year period. The firm ultimately concluded that "patient health remains extremely vulnerable."
The report argues that hospitals are focused on the wrong mission — securing patient records — while ignoring advanced threats that leave patients truly vulnerable. "There is no question that this is an important factor in protecting patients' interests," the report says, while adding that "patient health is the more serious concern and has been overlooked far too long."
Researchers found a number of nightmare scenarios that could occur, mostly as a result of a hacker manipulating systems to report false information.
Doctors could perform emergency procedures after reading incorrect readings from a compromised heart monitor, or a device could be taken offline completely so a nurse would not notice when a patient is under duress. And medicine delivery systems could be hacked to deliver the wrong or too much medicine to a patient.
The scenarios are not just theoretical, the report demonstrates, which follows others' research findings of vulnerabilities in a popular drug infusion pump, and another two-year study of the issue, which led Wired Magazine to conclude "it's insanely easy to hack hospital equipment."
The ISE team details how it pulled off these attacks in its report. In one example, the team hacks into a hospital web server and finds numerous patient monitors connected to the network, which gives them the ability to sound false alarms, display the wrong vitals, or disable the device completely. This attack would have likely prevented assistance to patients, "resulting in death or serious injury," the report says.
In another attack, ISE researchers walked into a hospital and accessed a vendor kiosk in the lobby, quickly using it to gain access to the hospital network. "Our team was able to identify numerous mobile computer stations (i.e. the mobile stations found in most emergency and hospital rooms)," the report says, "of which one was readily exploitable."
The report wasn't all doom and gloom, however. ISE included a detailed blueprint for healthcare administrators to follow, which included recommendations for basic network security audits, upgrades to computer systems, and beefing up physical security protocols inside facilities.
"There were often no security measures employed for detecting wither rogue or malicious devices had been connected to the network," the report says. "Meaning an adversary could simply walk up and plug in to the network in order to gain access."
In its conclusion, ISE urged hospitals to address the "advanced threats" it identified, which were far worse than hackers potentially getting medical records.
"A patient or multiple patients dying is the worst thing that can happen," Bono told The Baltimore Sun. "It became readily apparent that yes, it's possible."
In 2007, the firm found a flaw in Apple iPhones that allowed it access to any file it wanted, and in 2013 it released a report finding that many popular WiFi routers were vulnerable to hacking.
Digital transformation is driving even smaller and shorter deals for IT service providers, but how low can providers go?
IT and business process outsourcing deals have been getting smaller in dollar value and shorter in duration for some time. And, according to analysis of 2015’s deal activity, enterprise digitization is strengthening that trend. The number of outsourcing contracts signed last year hit an all-time high, but annual contract values were down 8 percent, according to outsourcing consultancy Information Services Group (ISG).
“Digital helps fuel a fire that was already burning very well,” says ISG partner John Keppel. “Digital impacts across industries are fundamentally changing the way business is done—not just with implications on IT but on entire business processes. It even impacts places where businesses interact with their customers, deliver their product and services and potentially even drive growth and profits. In times of radical change or disruption, speed of response is everything. So flexibility is key, and shorter deals provide this flexibility.”
How emerging technologies are shaping the IT outsourcing market
And because companies are exploiting emerging technologies, they’re also engaging with newer and smaller providers. “These firms are less capable of scaling or supporting huge implementations,” Keppel says. “Therefore smaller, tactical deployments are used as proof points and pilots.”
Outsourcing spending overall is increasing among companies of all sizes, although ISG’s research shows that small firm spending is up the most—increasing five-fold since 2011.
Restructured contracts reached a new high and new scope awards nearly did the same, even as their annual values declined 6 percent and 9 percent, respectively, for the year. “Deals are coming up for renewal at an ever-increasing pace,” Keppel says. “As you would expect from a growing industry, these renewals represent the increasing churn in the market.” In the past, these awards might go to one or two providers; today, they’re being split among multiple suppliers. “Those pieces are then leveraging emerging technologies which are coming to market at lower price points and utilizing the shortest of durations,” Keppel says.
The as-a-service model offer by the likes of AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google and Rackspace has disrupted infrastructure pricing models as well. “On-premises, fixed-pricing models have given way to dynamic, on-demand models, which represent more change for service provider business models, which in some cases are in danger of requiring complete reinvention,” says Keppel. “These top-tier public cloud vendors have been leveraging economies of scale to conduct an ongoing price war.”
Keppel estimates that traditional service providers lose three to four dollars in traditional hardware and software revenue for every dollar they make on cloud computing offerings. “They must manage this cannibalization of their existing revenues,” he says. “Also, as cloud services change the existing industry dynamic, service providers must note that organizations are moving not just toward shorter-term contracts but to effectively pay-as-you-go models to ensure more flexibility in terminating contracts and procuring new services.”
The average outsourcing deal was 3.5 years long — a full 15 percent shorter than they were three years ago, with ISG noting that many deals of three years or less in the marketplace as well. How much shorter and smaller can IT outsourcing deals get? “Now that clients have realized the flexibility and value inherent in shorter, smaller contracts, they won’t give that up,” says Keppel. “We expect the trend toward lower contract values and shorter-term commitments to continue. In fact, as we move toward an on-demand norm, it is likely the whole concept of a deal term might feel antiquated and contractual relationships will look more like framework agreements with negotiated terms rather than volume and duration-driven contracts.”
There were nine mega-relationships (worth $100 million or more annually) signed during the last quarter of 2015. However, the total number of such large deals awarded in 2015 — 23 in all — was the lowest in a decade, according ISG.
The next stage may be one in which providers combine IT and business process services to radically engineer a core business function—either via a software-as-a-service solution or through automation. “This is where the next real growth leap is likely to come from,” says Keppel. “Buyers recognize the value of outsourcing and continue to participate enthusiastically in the market. Revenue growth in the future will come from using sourcing to solve new problems.”
This story, "How long can IT outsourcing deliver more for less?" was originally published by CIO.
EDF Energy has been criticised after a 13-year-old-boy won a competition that was part of a campaign to attract teenage girls to the fields of science, technology, engineering and maths.
Children were asked to think of ideas for a connected home bedroom product. EDF said that while its Pretty Curious programme is still aimed at girls, the UK competition was later opened up to all 11 to 16-year-olds.
It continues to share the same website and branding as the girls' scheme.
The BBC understands that the decision had been made to open the competition up to both genders in the interests of fairness, and that the contest attracted "a couple of hundred" entries.
Following three events held in the UK for girls last year, the contest was extended online and made available to boys as well.
The winner's idea was for a games controller which harnesses kinetic energy from thumb action using wind-up triggers.
Three of the four runners-up, whose ideas included smart curtains, a smart fridge and a sleep monitor, were submitted by girls.
"We were really impressed with the ideas which were submitted. It's exciting to see so many young people getting involved in this type of initiative and engaging with Stem (science, technology, engineering and maths). We hope more young people will be inspired to pursue Stem subjects at school and consider Stem careers in future," said Amy Edmundson, an electrical maintenance technician at EDF.
Girls' perceptions "Congratulations to the winner - but I'd love to hear from EDF how the winning solution meets their stated aim for the competition," said computer scientist Dr Sue Black OBE.
"It is taking me a bit of time to work out how this result will change girls' perceptions of Stem." In a tweet, EDF said that while "the aim of #PrettyCurious was to encourage girls into #STEM, the #PrettyCuriousChallenge was a gender-neutral competition".
It added: "The winner was shortlisted by a panel of judges including the all-female winning team from our #PrettyCurious Glasgow workshop."
Suw Charman-Anderson, who founded the annual celebration of women in Stem, Ada Lovelace Day, told the BBC she had had reservations about the Pretty Curious campaign from the beginning.
"EDF Energy chose to link appearance and interest in Stem through the title of their campaign, despite many people pointing out that it was demeaning to girls," she said.
"Rather than challenging stereotypes, the focus on girls' looks rather than their intelligence reinforces them.
"EDF Energy have failed to understand both the nature of the problem [of women in Stem] and the negative impacts that their publicity stunt may well have on girls who took part with genuine enthusiasm and excitement."
Security firm Webroot's Q2 results ending December 31st 2015 show double-digit year-over-year revenue growth and expansion of its network of strategic security alliances and channel partners.
Webroot saw strong bookings growth of 47% in the business segment with 97% growth in the OEM sub-segment and 7% in the consumer segment.
"This was another good quarter of growth for us across all markets and geographies," said Dick Williams, CEO at Webroot.
"Acceptance of our next-generation endpoint security solutions for businesses and consumers is driving growth and profitability."
Webroot benefited from its partnership with Virgin Media to deliver Web classification data for Virgin Media Parental Controls integrated with the Webroot BrightCloud Web Classification Service.
The Web classification data lets Virgin Media Parental Controls to establish granular policies that enable parents to selectively allow, block, or isolate websites that their children may find in their web surfing.