KW 37: DB and Lidl get autonomous trucks, Digitization as an opportunity in nursing care, Germany plans AI campus




DB and Lidl get autonomous trucks: Deutsche Bahn subsidiary DB Schenker and food retailer Lidl have formed a partnership with the Swedish startup „Einride“. The company develops the so-called „T-Pod“, an autonomous electric van that will not only make freight transport more environmentally friendly, but also more cost-efficient. The first test drive for the logistics company DB Schenker will soon commence in Jönköping, Sweden. The T-Pod will initially commute between two warehouses over a distance of a few hundred meters, but it will also travel on public roads. There is no space for a safety driver on board, but Einride employees will initially accompany the trips remotely and, if necessary, control them. Test runs with Lidl will start next year.

TK: Digitization as an opportunity in nursing care: According to a new study by the Techniker Krankenkasse (TK), most people prefer to stay in their familiar environment for as long as possible. Here, TK deputy chief executive Thomas Ballast sees great potential in the field of IoT and Smart Homes. „It is important that people in need of care can live independently in their own homes, relieving relatives. Insurance should support this, for example via Smart Homes.“ He listed examples such as electric stoves that switch off on their own or motion detectors and sensors in the floor that sound an alarm if the occupant has not moved for a long time. Nine out of ten respondents in the TK study would be willing to sacrifice their privacy for such live-saving systems. Ballast believes that the national care insurance fund could be of help.

Germany plans AI campus: In order to advance AI research in Germany, the CDU/CSU bloc wants to place emphasis on an AI campus, similar to those found in China and the USA. Due to Germany’s particular strengths in the field of mechanical engineering, it has the best prerequisites to be „at the forefront of artificial intelligence in the next stage when it comes to learning about machines and robots,“ said CDU/CSU leader Volker Kauder. The planned campus will be built in one of the major regions of the country and will serve as a „starting signal for Artificial Intelligence“, Kauder said. Around two billion euros would be needed for this project. The money would be available in the budget for research and education.

Digital license plates are coming to California: California is testing an E Ink wirelessly configurable license plate. According to the California DMV, these plates would not be available in its offices, instead only to be sold through select vehicle dealerships by its manufacturer, San Francisco-based Reviver Auto. The Golden State launched a pilot program in its capital of Sacramento to test a digital license plate that ambitiously promises to streamline the lives of motorists and help businesses reach more clients. Users can change the color of the font or the background and display short messages directly below the registration number. California isn’t the only state looking to give digital license plates the old college try; Texas, Florida and Arizona are planning on rolling out their own programs this year.,

BMW to release in-car voice-controlled assistant next year: Another „wake word“ has entered the lexicon. Instead of „OK, Google“ or „Hey, Alexa,“ this time it’s „Hey, BMW.“ With BMW’s new virtual assistant, coming to the German car maker in 2019, voice commands are front and center in the car. The assistant will give drivers voice control over their vehicle’s settings, alert them to issues and let them check in on their car’s health. It’s scheduled to roll out in March of next year to all BMW models with the new BMW Operating System 7.0. Users can also ask the assistant about various aspects of their vehicle, such as how the automatic high beams work, if the oil level is sufficient or whether there are any current warnings.,

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Two-thirds of German SMEs have problems finding suitable IT specialists, reported the new „Ingenieurmonitor“, a quarterly joint project by the VDI and the Institute of German Business.


Avast demonstrates Smart Homes‘ vulnerability: During a live experiment at the Ifa + Summit, experts from security software maker Avast showed how easy it is to hack a Smart Home. Following a panel, Avast Security Ambassador Garry Kasparov and Avast CTO Ondrej Vlcek were joined by Avast Security Researcher, Vladislav Iliushin, to host a workshop titled “Home Sweet Home? Chronicle of a Smart Home Attack Foretold.” Ondrej opened the workshop by describing the vulnerable state of smart homes. Vladislav then stepped in, playing the role of bad guy as he hacked a fictitious smart home, which contained a security camera, smart light bulbs, smart speakers, and a smart TV. Throughout the process, Garry narrated what was happening for the audience.

Germans remain critical of AI: German consumers remain sceptical about artificial intelligence (AI) technology, with older Germans the least trustful, according to the latest YouGov research. Almost half (45 percent) of Germans believe AI technology offers a balanced benefit-to-risk ratio, with one quarter (26 percent) believing the risks outweigh the benefits. Only 15 percent believe AI technology offers more benefits than risk. While millennials have a more balanced perception between the uses and risks of AI technology, older ‚baby boomers‘ are more anxious with 13 percent seeing the potential benefits and 29 percent seeing risks.


Smart transport drone: As part of the „AT&T Foundry“, AT&T, together with the pharmaceutical company Merck and the packaging supplier Skybox, has developed a prototype of its „Skypod“. The goal is to successfully and safely deliver temperature-sensitive medicines using drones. An LTE-connected drone carrying Softbox’s thermal-insulated packaging system „Skypod,“ which includes a smartbox powered by AT&T’s Internet of Things (IoT) technology, successfully completed demonstration flights. The field trial with Merck, the pharmaceutical company, took place in locations across Puerto Rico. Softbox, based in the UK, provides specialist temperature control packaging to the pharmaceutical industry.


„Everyday life is increasingly permeated by networked cars or Smart Homes, even though the actual distribution does not correlate with the huge media coverage of the topic. Overall, consumer IoT compared to industrial IoT is also rather negligible. Almost nothing changes for companies in the medium-term.“
Jan Rodig is the CEO of the IoT service provider Tresmo and a member of the Research & Innovation working group of the Plattform Industrie 4.0 initiative. He described in an interview with a trade magazine, how IoT will change people’s everyday lives.


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