Smart Solutions

Smart Companies: IoT Solutions for the real world

Smart companies develop new technologies, that solve important problems and long-term challenges. IoT Solutions for the real world!


Flintstones and Jetsons

A puff of smoke trails from Fred Flintstone’s bare feet as he physically propels his wood and stone car down a prehistoric road. It’s safe to say that we’ve collectively taken technology well beyond this crude (and, of course, fictional) point in automotive history. The drive to perfect autonomous vehicles is creating numerous opportunities for innovators and a healthy acquisition market. AMD is seeking a role in this future and its latest target is Xilinx, the inventor of field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs). FPGAs not only offer a field-upgradable alternative to hard-wired application-specific integrated circuits ASICs) but can also be used to speed up the development of ASICs.

Smart Companies - IoT Solutions for the real world: Xilinx

source ©: Robotics and Automation News

Onboard field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), systems-on-a-chip (SoCs – integrated circuits that contain all or most components of a computer), and artificial intelligence (AI) are steering the automotive industry further toward fully autonomous vehicles. It’s still a long road to the advanced automation of the cartoon flying car that collapses into George Jetson’s briefcase.

This is the gray area in which today’s automotive hardware engineers find themselves. According to the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “Self-driving vehicles ultimately will integrate onto US roadways by progressing through six levels of driver assistance technology advancements in the coming years.” It’s an optimistic statement but it leaves many questions: How long will this journey to fully autonomous cars and trucks take? And what path will take us there? The truth is complex but the short, encouraging answer is that we’re already en route.

Self-driving vehicles will integrate onto US roadways in the coming years.

US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

But the road to truly independent autonomous systems will be incremental – which is why it is critical that companies begin designing around technology with the adaptability to withstand a long, gradual period of development. Fortunately, unlike the Jetsons’ briefcase car, the necessary technology already exists. Uniquely positioned for extensive adaptability and scalability, Xilinx devices provide flexible, standardsbased solutions that combine software programmability, high-performance image processing tightly coupled with analytics and any-to-any connectivity, with the security and safety needed for next-generation automotive systems.

AI capabilities require high processing power combined with low latency, and Xilinx adaptive solutions offer these characteristics with as little as three microseconds of latency. Additionally, they allow for the incorporation of advanced neural networks to facilitate sophisticated machine-learning capabilities. That’s why high-compute-powered, lowlatency, power-efficient, and eminently flexible Xilinx FPGAs and SoCs are already in over 100 vehicle models across nearly 30 manufacturers. Along with the versatility of Xilinx automotive solutions comes increased complexity in implementation. Fortunately, the XiLink software development kit has been developed to seamlessly integrate Xilinx into new automotive designs. Avnet incorporates these tools to leverage Xilinx solutions to help speed products to the market.



Creating the Circular Economy

Predictive maintenance involves using external multisensor devices to measure a machine’s state of health by detecting anomalies and drifts from its normal operating footprint. These devices need to be located on the equipment to be monitored, without additional wiring or other modifications, by integrating connected, energy-efficient electronics in a nonintrusive and compact manner.

Asystom, a specialist in predictive maintenance for Industry 4.0, has introduced a turnkey, standalone system for monitoring equipment and preventing breakdowns. It is targeted at industrial sites in mining, steelworks, automotive, aeronautics, pharmaceutical laboratories, water and waste treatment, food, and energy.

The technology takes a detailed operating footprint of a machine and then monitors it in real time to give the earliest possible alert of any performance drift or malfunction. The objective being to improve the productivity and thus the profitability of production units by avoiding unscheduled shutdowns.

IoT Solutions for the real world: Pierre Naccache - Asystom

Pierre Naccache – CEO of Asystom

Using Asystom’s algorithmic developments, the devices process large amounts of complex data and transfer them for processing in real time. The devices integrate multiple physical parameter sensors (up to nine parameters) to predict industrial equipment failures and to determine the causes. The measured information is encrypted and transferred safely to server-based storage via a wireless LoRa (Long Range) network to avoid any additional installation burden. Operating alerts, diagnostic tools, and device setup all run on a single web-based application. Stephane Lhuisset, CTO of Asystom, says, “We are increasingly seeing the emergence of the principles of a circular and responsible economy. Industry has come to realize that it’s better to optimize the use of equipment, which must be durable while remaining efficient. Industry digitalization and preventive maintenance are effective means to achieve this, as well as improving production capacity.”IoT Solutions for the real world

Smart Companies - Asystom - Chart

Asystom’s analytic devices are also aligned with this concept. Customers don’t need to frequently change the batteries of their wireless sensors or, worse, throw them away after two or three years because they have become obsolete. Pierre Naccache, founding president of Asystom, adds: “We have driven technological innovation by allowing the devices to ‘wake up’ just when needed. Asystom devices can be configured remotely to measure in real time but, also and above all, are capable of determining when to take measurements. All data is transmitted in real time and accurately. Information and alerts are presented on an easy-to-use dashboard and, finally, these devices are all manufactured in Europe.”



Traffic Management for Drones

Droniq is working on integrating unmanned aerial systems (UAS), commonly known as drones, into the (controlled) airspace, in a reliable, secure, and affordable way. By making drones “visible” for other aircraft and airspace control, a significant increase in operational safety can be achieved. To do this, they developed a hook-on device (HOD) called HOD4track, which can be mounted to almost any UAS on the market.

Droniq was founded as a spinoff of the “connected drones” research project, which was initiated by Deutsche Flugsicherung and Deutsche Telekom in 2016. The goal of the project is to demonstrate that drones can be safely integrated into the airspace by using existing technologies, like LTE, GNSS, and FLARM, to unleash their full economic potential. A drone safety solution is highly appreciated with millions of aircraft expected in the future.

IoT Solutions for the real world - Droniq

source ©: unsplash/Jonathan Lampel

The drone traffic management system (UTM) is an independent web platform for drone operators to perform below-line-of-sight missions, like power grid inspections. The UTM calculates a real-time airspace situation display. All drones that are signed into the system are visualized together with their flight routes. Alerts are triggered for potential collisions and airspace can be blocked on demand or when necessary. When the drone operator logs into the UTM the position is calculated by the HOD continuously and independent from the UAS flight controller. If necessary, FLARM (flight alarm) signals received from surrounding air traffic are also sent to the UTM. Additionally, the drone’s position is sent via FLARM, making it visible to other aircraft nearby.

The position of the HOD is tracked by a u-blox M8 GNSS module, which supports up to three GNSS systems including GPS/Galileo together with BeiDou or GLONASS at meter accuracy. These low-cost multi-constellation GNSS receivers are affordable for start-ups at a price range of under €100. Operating at 5 V and consuming <400 mA, the whole device weighs only 35 g, which is very energy-efficient when mounted on drones. Even fully equipped with antennas and an external battery, it weighs only 149 g. The four-way antenna constellation enables LTE, GNSS, FLARM, and ADS-B signals to be processed simultaneously.

Droniq is working on a pilot project together with the German military (Wehrtechnische Dienststelle der Bundeswehr Manching), Fraunhofer IIS, and Deutsche Flugsicherung to test anti-spoofing and anti-jamming GNSS applications for civil aviation. The Galileo Public Regulated Service (PRS) has been selected to provide this service for critical navigation. The consortium has built a demonstrator, which is using Galileo PRS on the HOD. This generation of the device transmits the encrypted Galileo PRS signal to the UTM. The goal is to have a protected server environment to decrypt the code within the infrastructure at Deutsche Flugsicherung. This would allow safe operations within the DFS Data Center, together with the UTM.


Davey Bickford

Having a Blast

The most dangerous moment in mining is when someone lights the fuse and everybody starts running. Davey Bickford, a subsidiary of Enaex, a world leader in mining services, wants to defuse the situation with its remote control electronic detonator, dubbed DaveyTronic Edge.

The system uses a common IoT radio frequency protocol to communicate up to thousands of detonators before triggering each explosive device.

Smart Companies - IoT Solutions for the real world: Davey Bickford

source ©: Emerald X

Electronic detonators have been around since the 1990s, but, says Aymeric Denuelle, of Davey Bickford, the Achilles heel were the fixed-wire networks connecting the detonators to the blasting machines, which were complex and prone to electric leakage.

Early wireless detonators were unidirectional – in other words, signals could be sent to a detonator, but no response could be received. DaveyTronic Edge not only does away with the need for surface wiring, but also controls multiple electronic detonators from a single, safe location, thereby making the blasting process less risky and more efficient.

Until now, mining workers have been forced to manually check conditions before pressing the button – a process known as “priming the blast.” This is costly and time-consuming, as well as risky in the event of human error. But the main worry was finding detonators that failed to go off, which required searching for hours through huge piles of debris.

Fixed-wire networks are the Achillies heel of blasting.

Aymerk Denuelle, Davey Bickford Enaex

The new system has been successfully tested in a large pit mine in Chile, where it proved capable of operating safely over a distance of several kilometers.

As Aymeric Denuelle says, “Our goal is to always provide safer solutions so that our customers can trigger larger blasts from a remote firing point. Time is money in this industry and mining companies need to spend more time collecting the ore than organizing the blast.”IoT Solutions for the real world


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