Aussie startup EVX is creating first solar-powered sportscar
The rise of solar power popularity continues, as a local Australian startup is in the process of building the world’s first solar-powered, eco-friendly sportscar called “Immortus.”
Along with researchers at Swinburne University of technology in Melbourne, the Australian electric vehicle startup EVX is designing the innovative car inspired by solar race car technology as well as a collection of post-Apocalyptic films.
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While Immortus can be operated like a normal eco-friendly electric car, it will also include seven square metres of solar photovoltaic paneling on its roof. The environmentalist-dream automobile will use the sun’s rays to provide additional power to the car while it’s being driven.
While the Tesla Model S is has a large 85 kilowatt battery pack, the self-charging system on the Immortus uses only a 10 kwh lithium-ion phosphate battery.
The project was originally founded by Australia’s Aurora Solar Car Team, which has competed in several solar race events around the globe. The Immortus combines maximum sun exposure with extreme aerodynamics to help it handle like a well-balanced sports car.
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The added boost of energy will help remain drivable for an extended period of time, as EVX claims the car will get up to 550 kms out of its battery at an average of 85 km/h, which is slightly more than rival electric car company Tesla.
However, those at EVX acknowledge they’re not attempting to duplicate what Tesla has done.
“We’re not trying to be a Tesla,” said EVX CEO and co-founder Barry Nguyen. “Tesla is a mass manufacturer of cars, we’re designers of a boutique custom electric cars and aftermarket products.
“There’s regulations in the U.S. and Australia that allow for individually constructed vehicles. Essentially, what that means is that if you contract a custom car builder with the designs and components, you can build a road legal car without the crash testing and the $5-10 million you’d have to raise to do that. We plan to sell those cars in low volume.”
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Since it still lacks a significant amount of funding behind it, Immortus is more of an idea at this point than reality. Still, EVX is targeting SEMA 2015 in Las Vegas this November as the date it will release its first prototype.
With a sleek design and an ability to reach 100 km/h only seven seconds, Immortus will be a limited edition automobile with anticipated selling price of $370,000.
But this state-of-the-art innovation is laying the groundwork for a whole new category of vehicle for the future.
Chinese Firm Taigusys Launches Emotion-Recognition System
In a detailed investigative report, the Guardian reported that Chinese tech company Taigusys can now monitor facial expressions. The company claims that it can track fake smiles, chart genuine emotions, and help police curtail security threats. ‘Ordinary people here in China aren’t happy about this technology, but they have no choice. If the police say there have to be cameras in a community, people will just have to live with it’, said Chen Wei, company founder and chairman. ‘There’s always that demand, and we’re here to fulfil it’.
Who Will Use the Data?
As of right now, the emotion-recognition market is supposed to be worth US$36bn by 2023—which hints at rapid global adoption. Taigusys counts Huawei, China Mobile, China Unicom, and PetroChina among its 36 clients, but none of them has yet revealed if they’ve purchased the new AI. In addition, Taigusys will likely implement the technology in Chinese prisons, schools, and nursing homes.
It’s not likely that emotion-recognition AI will stay within the realm of private enterprise. President Xi Jinping has promoted ‘positive energy’ among citizens and intimated that negative expressions are no good for a healthy society. If the Chinese central government continues to gain control over private companies’ tech data, national officials could use emotional data for ideological purposes—and target ‘unhappy’ or ‘suspicious’ citizens.
How Does It Work?
Taigusys’s AI will track facial muscle movements, body motions, and other biometric data to infer how a person is feeling, collecting massive amounts of personal data for machine learning purposes. If an individual displays too much negative emotion, the platform can recommend him or her for what’s termed ‘emotional support’—and what may end up being much worse.
Can We Really Detect Human Emotions?
This is still up for debate, but many critics say no. Psychologists still debate whether human emotions can be separated into basic emotions such as fear, joy, and surprise across cultures or whether something more complex is at stake. Many claim that AI emotion-reading technology is not only unethical but inaccurate since facial expressions don’t necessarily indicate someone’s true emotional state.
In addition, Taigusys’s facial tracking system could promote racial bias. One of the company’s systems classes faces as ‘yellow, white, or black’; another distinguishes between Uyghur and Han Chinese; and sometimes, the technology picks up certain ethnic features better than others.
Is China the Only One?
Not a chance. Other countries have also tried to decode and use emotions. In 2007, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) launched a heavily contested training programme (SPOT) that taught airport personnel to monitor passengers for signs of stress, deception, and fear. But China as a nation rarely discusses bias, and as a result, its AI-based discrimination could be more dangerous.
‘That Chinese conceptions of race are going to be built into technology and exported to other parts of the world is troubling, particularly since there isn’t the kind of critical discourse [about racism and ethnicity in China] that we’re having in the United States’, said Shazeda Ahmed, an AI researcher at New York University (NYU).
Taigusys’s founder points out, on the other hand, that its system can help prevent tragic violence, citing a 2020 stabbing of 41 people in Guangxi Province. Yet top academics remain unconvinced. As Sandra Wachter, associate professor and senior research fellow at the University of Oxford’s Internet Institute, said: ‘[If this continues], we will see a clash with fundamental human rights, such as free expression and the right to privacy’.