Tag: battery

Wireless charging will make drones always ready to fly

Drones are great until you realize running all those propellers, a camera, GPS and other assorted technology bits are a real drain on the battery. If you're just using one for images it's not too big of a deal. But if you're using one for surveying, security or delivering burritos, swapping out batteries all the time can be a huge pain and time suck. Fortunately, there's a new wireless charging landing pad on its way.

The WiBotic PowerPad is a three-foot by three-foot landing station that comes with an onboard charger that can be attached to pretty much any drone according to the company. The company says the weather-resistant platform can be mounted pretty much anywhere and can help alleviate the need to handle drones that run automated flights on a regular basis.

The PowerPad also can serve as a waypoint for long-distance flights. If a drone needs to survey a large plot of land, it can stop and recharge at regular intervals on distributed platforms. No word on pricing or when the pad will be available, but there are sure to more than a few companies interested in reducing the time they spend swapping batteries while gathering data about battery health in the drones they have deployed.

WiBotic PowerPad for Drones from WiBotic Inc. on Vimeo.

Via: Geek Wire

Source: WiBotic

LG will build Europe’s biggest EV battery factory next year

As the auto industry fatefully moves into electric vehicles, Europe's major car-makers need high capacity batteries. Until now, companies like VW, Volvo and BMW have had to import batteries from Asia. LG's forthcoming car battery factory in Poland, the first in Europe, hopes to fulfil that growing demand. "The company has chosen Poland as the most competitive location for production to satisfy the needs of European and global car producers," said Chang-Beom Kang, vice president at LG Chem. The facility will cost $1.63 million, based in the city of Wroclaw which is close to the country's border with Germany. (In case you didn't know, Germany is a major car manufacturing country.)

The company's chemical arm is planning to manufacture up to 100,000 EV batteries starting next year, recruiting 2,500 people in the process. According to Reuters, the factory will also include an R&D center.

While the factory may sound big enough, LG Chem's production estimates place it at around 10 percent of the capacity of Tesla's Gigafactory estimates for 2018. Demand is ramping up in Europe, and this is likely just the start. Paris stated today that it aimed to ban the sales of new fossil fuel car by the year 2030, while both France as a country, and the UK, aim to ban the sale of combustion engine vehicles by 2040.

Source: Reuters

Tesla envisions mobile EV battery swapping machines

Tesla has filed a patent application for a machine that will enable technicians to swap EV battery packs in as little as 15 minutes. The EV-maker initially toyed with the idea of building rigs that can quickly replace its cars' battery packs back in 2013 -- it even demoed the system at an event. That didn't quite pan out, but it clearly hasn't given up on its plans of providing customers a quick way to get their packs swapped out. As Electrek notes, the new design is more compact than the one it showed off a few years ago and could even be mobile, probably so it could easily be placed in strategic locations where Superchargers aren't available.

As you can see in the image above, the rig has the power to lift vehicles, allowing technicians easy access to the whole car as they help the machine change batteries. It won't enable 90-second swaps like what Tesla originally promised, but waiting for 15 minutes isn't bad at all if you find yourself low on power while driving between cities or states and there's no Supercharger nearby. The rig in the patent was designed to service the Model S and X, but it's not hard to imagine Tesla making one that its electric trucks can use.

Via: Electrek, TechCrunch

Source: USPTO

Long range, low power sensors may lead to better health wearables

For small electronic devices and sensors like those found in wearables that can decipher biological information from sweat and contact lenses that can measure glucose levels, there are a couple of trade offs that limit their function. In order to be small and unobtrusive, they need to run on very little power. Otherwise, they require large batteries. But reduced power requirements also tend to limit how far these devices can send their signals, many of which have to be within a few feet of their receivers. But researchers at the University of Washington have overcome the need to compromise on communication distances and they presented the work today at UbiComp 2017.

"Until now, devices that can communicate over long distances have consumed a lot of power. The trade off in a low-power device that consumes microwatts of power is that its communication range is short," Shyam Gollakota, an author of the paper, said in a statement. "Now we've shown that we can offer both, which will be pretty game-changing for a lot of different industries and applications."

The team's system is made up of three devices -- one that emits a radio signal, sensors that can shove information into reflections of that signal and a receiver that can decode that information. And the innovation is in how they transmit those initial signals -- spreading them across a range of frequencies. They show with this setup that their sensors can transmit data across a house, throughout an office area with 41 rooms and across an acre of farmland. They even put the sensors to work within a contact lens and in a patch that attached to the skin. They found they could reliably get signals from those sensors across a large room and a 3,328 square-foot atrium. The sensors use 1,000 times less power than similar current technologies and can be produced for 10 to 20 cents each. Further, because they designed the system to work with off-the-shelf receivers, that component remains inexpensive as well.

In theory, these sensors could be used to detect soil moisture across a plot of farmland or pollution in a city as well as in a number of biological- and health-related applications. The team is commercializing the system and hopes to have it ready for sale next spring.

Images: Dennis Wise / University of Washington

Source: University of Washington (1), (2)

Apple’s AR efforts will only work if the battery can keep up

All of Apple's new iPhones are ready for augmented reality. The iPhone 8, 8 Plus and X are designed with AR capabilities built-in, a lot like ASUS' ZenFone AR and other Google Tango-powered devices. AR is being billed as the medium of the future, allowing users to seamlessly blend the real world with fantastical creatures, sprawling battlefields and cosmic adventures -- or to just see if that IKEA Billy bookcase will actually work in their living rooms.

The promises of AR are vast. On-stage today during its 10th anniversary iPhone event, Apple showed off a competitive multiplayer game called The Machines that superimposed a gritty sci-fi warzone over a blank table. On the iPhone 8, tanks and soldiers blasted lasers into buildings and enemies, and a spaceship was eventually engulfed by a massive explosion. It looked like the future of gaming. And it might be -- for 30 minutes at a time, at least.

We've been here before. Pokemon Go was the first AR game to truly take off in the mainstream market and it's still going strong -- but it offers a cautionary tale for anyone dreaming of untethered AR gaming.

On mobile devices, AR is a massive battery suck. Plain and simple.

Playing Pokemon Go for an hour, with no other apps open, will drain about 30 percent of an iPhone 6S's battery, according to CNET. And with other apps open, it's easy to lose 45 percent of an iPhone 6S's battery life in just 30 minutes. Anecdotally, plenty of Pokemon Go enthusiasts using a range of phones have reported massive battery drain when playing for extended periods of time -- that's why they usually have portable-power-pack cables slithering out of their pockets and purses.


The iPhone 8, 8 Plus and X are more powerful than ever, and all of our smart phones are only going to get more sophisticated as time rolls on. However, no amount of dual-camera action, f/2.4 aperture or 12-megapixel sensors can save the new iPhones from themselves. Simply put, AR is useless if it bricks your phone every time you flip it on.

This isn't just Apple's problem. Battery life was a major concern when we reviewed the ASUS ZenFone AR last month. The phone itself was pleasantly powerful, running AAA-style games like Afterpulse and VR experiences nearly flawlessly -- but the battery simply couldn't keep up. The ZenFone AR packs a 3,300mAh cell, far outpacing the iPhone 6S's 1,715mAh battery, but still, the phone couldn't stay charged for a full day. Here's how reviewer Chris Velazco explained it:

"I'd pull the phone off the charger between 7 AM and 8 AM, and it would be right on the edge of death by 6 PM. Things got worse when I spent time playing Daydream VR games or using Tango apps for more than a few minutes."

You catch that? Messing around with AR for just a few minutes has a drastic impact on the ZenFone AR's battery life, and that phone features one of the most powerful cells in the business.

There are no concrete battery details for the iPhone 8, 8 Plus or X, though Apple did reveal the iPhone X should last two hours longer than the iPhone 7, which features a 1,960mAh cell.

Apple is clearly excited about AR. In June, it opened up the tech to developers with ARKit, a platform that has already resulted in some truly freaky and fun experiences. However, these are early days for AR and the hardware is still catching up to this software explosion.

But, that may be just fine with Apple, at least for now. After all, the company generally makes billions each year from accessory sales alone, and a shorter, AR-driven battery life may mean they'll sell a few more AirPower mats this holiday season.

Follow all the latest news from Apple's iPhone event here!

Water-based electrolytes promise safer phone batteries

It's hard to completely escape safety issues with lithium-ion batteries, in part due to the nature of the electrolytes that charge and release energy when ions shuttle between electrodes. They usually have to be made of easily combustible chemicals to muster enough power. However, that might not be a problem for much longer. Scientists have crafted a water-based electrolyte that's both considerably safer and manages enough voltage (4V) to be useful.

The key was a high concentration of salt that produces the same protective layer on electrodes (a solid electrolyte interphase) you'd get out of a conventional electrolyte, preserving the electrodes and letting the battery hold more energy.

There's one main problem right now: batteries with these watery electrolytes don't last very long. They hold out for just 70 cycles where many conventional lithium-ion batteries last for several hundred cycles or more. However, the very fact that researchers have overcome both safety and voltage issues is still significant. While this won't guarantee that your devices will be completely immune to battery woes, it could be just a matter of time before you panic a little less when you drop your phone.

Via: The Verge

Source: Cell

Tesla drops the price of its most expensive EVs

The prices of Tesla's top-of-the-range vehicles dropped overnight thanks to efficiency improvements in the way the brand's 100 kWh batteries are made. Better efficiency means lower production costs, and Tesla is passing its savings straight on to you. Discounts range from $3,500 to $5,000, include both the Model S and Model X, and put prices back to where they were before a small increase was added back in April. The discounts also follow a price drop for the Model X earlier this month, which came about due to its improved profit margins.

Of course, Teslas aren't the cheapest vehicles available, but if you've been considering joining the EV club, now's the time to buy (the discounts also affects current orders that haven't yet been fulfilled). Here's the new price list:

  • Model S 100D: $97,500 down to $94,000
  • Model S P100D: $140,000 down to $135,000
  • Model X 100D: $99,500 down to $96,000
  • Model X P100D: $145,000 down to $140,000

Via: TechCrunch

Some early Chevy Bolts suffer from battery issues

We're sure people who were waiting for the Chevy Bolt EV were thrilled when General Motors started selling them much earlier than planned. Unfortunately, some of them might now have electric cars that could leave them stranded in the middle of nowhere. GM has admitted to Autoblog that a number of it earliest Bolts have battery issues that could lead to "unexpected loss of propulsion." The good news is that only around one percent of the 10,000-or-so Bolts -- so, approximately 100 -- on the road are affected. Further, the automaker will fix it for customers at no cost.

According to GM rep Chris Bonelli, some of the first units the company manufactured might show more range than they currently have due to lower battery voltage. In truth, they could have very little charge and could run out of power without warning. Brad Berman of PlugInCars, a website that covers electric vehicles, even broke the story because his Bolt suddenly lost power despite showing 100 miles in range. Newer units don't seem to be affected by the issue due to updated parts and other changes.

Bonelli said the problem can be fixed either by repairing faulty batteries or replacing them completely. GM has already gotten in touch with customers who might be affected by the issue and will arrange free service for them.

Source: Autoblog

Samsung details safety measures for the Note 8 battery

Samsung is well aware that its facing an uphill battle with the Note 8. Specifically, with its battery following last year's fiery Note 7 debacle. As a way of rebuilding public trust, the company has been extremely stringent and rigorous in its safety tests. Watchdog group Underwriters Labs announced that it's been working with the Korean tech giant to ensure reliability for the Note 8's power supply.

"We have been closely working with Samsung to make meaningful advancements in the science of smartphone quality and safety evaluation," UL president Sajeev Jesudas said in a statement. "As a result, the Note 8 has successfully completed a rigorous series of device and battery safety compatibility test protocols. We look forward to maintaining our strategic relationship with Samsung to help ensure device safety for all consumers."

That's in addition to the battery passing Samsung's internal eight-point safety testing. The outfit tapped UL early this year to conduct an independent review of the batteries; this relationship isn't brand new. Samsung is even going so far as to switch battery suppliers, changing from longtime partner ATL for its flagship handsets to those made internally and with the help of Murata, according to The Investor.

Last October it was revealed that Samsung sidestepped third-party testing services for its batteries, and instead tested in-house, exclusively. We all know how that ended, but with this announcement, combined with how the company bounced back with the Galaxy S8 earlier this year, it seems like Samsung's learned from its mistakes.

Follow all the latest news from Samsung's Galaxy Note 8 event here!

Source: The Investor

LG will build electric car parts in Detroit

LG Electronics is building a 250,000 square foot EV parts plant in Detroit suburb Hazel Park, it said in a press release. LG might not build its own cars, but its vehicle components division supplies many key pieces for GM's critically acclaimed Chevy Bolt, to name one manufacturer. That's an understatement: It builds the battery cells and pack, electric motor, power inverter, on-board charger, climate control, instrument cluster and infotainment system.

GM is therefore relying a lot on LG, but the feeling is mutual: LG says it made about $1.5 billion building vehicle components in the first half of 2017. That's a 43 percent increase from the year before and a big chunk of that gain is due to the Bolt. The new plant should make it easier to supply those parts and ease any importing concerns with US regulators. The plant received a $2.9 million grant from the Michigan Business Development Program, and will employ at least 292 factory workers and engineers.

LG will no doubt look to expand its parts business beyond GM. Traditional automakers have been forced to switch gears from gas to electricity, thanks to an EV revolution created largely by Tesla. To make that transition more quickly, they'll need help from companies that already know how to build complex battery packs and other components. With a plant in the center of the US auto industry, LG should be able to fill that role quite nicely.

Source: LG Electronics USA