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Electric Car maker plans to introduce laser windscreen wipers

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Lasers could replace windscreen wipers in future Teslas as a hi-tech way to clean glass.

The innovative Californian-based electric car maker has lodged a patent with the United States Patent and Trademark Office for laser beams that would clean the windscreen and other glass areas without the need for traditional wipers.

The 14-page application goes into incredible detail of how such laser beam windscreen cleaners would work, describing every component and process and including diagrams of what looks like a Tesla Model S with the system fitted to it.

Titled “pulsed laser cleaning of debris accumulated on glass articles in vehicles and photovoltaic assemblies” the detailed document was lodged in late November and describes how such “laser-based surface cleaning technologies” would function.

Rather than focusing solely on the windscreen or back window – as traditional windscreen wipers do – the proposed laser system aims to keep all glass areas clean.

Laser emitters housed in the bonnet, front guards and middle of the car would aim pulsed laser beams at debris detected on the glass.

Or, as the patent application explains: “A cleaning system for a vehicle includes a beam optics assembly that emits a laser beam to irradiate a region on a glass article of the vehicle, debris detection circuitry that detects debris accumulated over the region, control circuitry.”

The document details laser exposure levels and pulsing methods to ensure they don’t damage the car or its occupants.

The patent application also suggests laser cleaners could be used to keep camera lenses clean to reduce “erroneous images”, something potentially problematic for driver assistance systems or active safety systems using cameras.

The laser windscreen cleaners could explain why the controversial Tesla Cybertruck didn’t have windscreen wipers, one of many things that fuelled speculation the design of the dual-cab ute would have to change markedly for production.

In its quest to compete with traditional car makers Tesla regularly turns to technology to find different solutions.

It has replaced the car key with Bluetooth phone applications, for example, and was the first car maker to allow software updates at home, rather than having to visit a dealer.

The laser cleaning system is a modern tech-based solution to a feature that hasn’t changed much in more than 100 years.

It’s also not the first time Tesla has flagged its intention to replace traditional wipers; a few months ago it lodged a patent for electromagnetic wipers that used magnetic tracks rather than a motor to slide a blade across the screen.

The latest laser patent also suggests such laser systems could be used to keep photovoltaic solar panels on buildings clean, ensuring they are working more efficiently.



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As U.N. Climate Talks Go to Overtime, a Battle for the ‘Spirit’ of the Paris Pact

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MADRID — After two weeks of contentious negotiations, world leaders put in charge of averting a cluster of accelerating climate threats remained at loggerheads on Saturday about whether they could commit, just on paper, to raise voluntary climate targets next year.

The annual talks, which had been scheduled to end on Friday, were meant to hammer out the final details of the landmark 2015 Paris climate accord, and expectations initially ran high that they would yield a collective political call for raising climate targets.

That is vital for the future of millions. With greenhouse gas emissions on their current trajectory, average global temperatures are on pace to increase to levels where heat waves are very likely to intensify, storms are set to become more severe, and coastal cities are at risk of drowning, according to scientific consensus.

The delegates from nearly 200 countries who gathered in the Spanish capital were similarly stuck on two other issues that have vexed the Paris Agreement since its inception: working out rules for an international carbon trading system and providing money for the poor countries that suffer most from climate catastrophes.

The draft texts that emerged early Saturday immediately set off furious criticism from inside and outside the plenary room. By midday, delegates were waiting for new drafts and there was no telling when the sessions would wrap up, with or without an agreement.

“Adopting this would be a betrayal of all the people around the world suffering from climate impacts and those who are calling for action,” said Jennifer Morgan, the executive director of Greenpeace International.

Diplomats and advocates at the deliberations repeatedly cited opposition from large economies that are run by leaders suspicious of international cooperation — including Australia, Brazil and the United States, the only country in the world that is pulling out of the Paris accord.

The United States delegation was among those that objected to the notion that the conference document should signal the need to enhance climate targets next year, saying it did not support “expansive additional language on gaps and needs.”

And while the divide between rich and poor countries loomed over these talks, as they often do in climate negotiations, the battle lines were far more muddled this time. Many countries from the global South, like Fiji and Colombia, insisted on higher ambitions by 2020, while India was among those that resisted such a deadline.

“The spirit and the objectives of the Paris Agreement are being eroded clause by clause, discussion by discussion,” Simon Stiell, the environment minister of Grenada, said as the negotiations entered the final stretch.

The lackluster diplomatic results stood in sharp contrast to the climate risks roiling the world beyond the conference center, with Arctic temperatures at near record highs this year, smoke from wildfires choking Sydney, Australia, and millions of young people pouring out into the streets for much of this year.





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HiTech Group Australia (ASX:HIT) Trading Up 0.8%

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HiTech Group Australia Limited (ASX:HIT)’s stock price traded up 0.8% during trading on Thursday . The stock traded as high as A$1.19 ($0.84) and last traded at A$1.19 ($0.84), 4,900 shares changed hands during mid-day trading. The stock had previously closed at A$1.18 ($0.84).

The stock has a market cap of $45.28 million and a price-to-earnings ratio of 15.66. The business’s 50 day moving average is A$1.12 and its 200 day moving average is A$1.07.

About HiTech Group Australia (ASX:HIT)

HiTech Group Australia Limited provides recruitment services for permanent and contract staff to the information and communications technology (ICT) industry in public and private sectors in Australia. Its permanent recruitment services comprise the search and selection of candidates for full time employment; and ICT contracting services include the provision of ICT professionals for temporary and other non-permanent staffing needs of clients for specific projects in system development, infrastructure support and cloud integration, operation, and other skill sets.

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New NASA mission will allow scientists to track rising seas from space

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Scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory are teaming up with European researchers to launch a mission that will probe the oceans’ depths over the next decade — and chart their inexorable rise.

The Sentinel-6/Jason-CS mission builds on four previous satellites that have circled the globe along the same path since 1992, carefully documenting the millimeter-by-millimeter changes in sea level fueled by greenhouse gas emissions. Over that time, they have found that the world’s oceans are rising at an increasingly rapid rate.

The rising waters have had some disastrous consequences, including the erosion of precious coastlines, contamination of agricultural land, more frequent and destructive high tides, and lost habitat for both humans and wildlife.

The Jason satellites, coupled with complementary readings from other NASA Earth-facing missions, have been essential to tracking these changes and dealing with their consequences, said R. Steven Nerem, a professor of aerospace engineering sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder and member of NASA’s Ocean Surface Topography Science Team.

“Without the satellites we’d be blind,” said Nerem, who has tracked sea level rise and its causes for decades. “It’s just very critical that we continue these missions because it’s the way we understand what’s going on.”

Earth’s oceans have swelled and shrunk for eons, but they’ve typically done so very gradually, rather than at the breakneck pace being recorded today.

Recent readings put the rate at roughly 4.5 millimeters per year, up from about 3 millimeters per year in 2005 and around 2 millimeters per year in 1993. Add it all up and the seas are now about 3 inches higher, on average, than they were a quarter-century ago.

The question the new Sentinel-6/Jason-CS mission will seek to answer is this: How much faster will the seas rise in the coming decade? And what will happen to Earth beyond then?

“Hundreds of millions of people around the Earth will be affected by sea level rise in the next 50 to 100 years, and our ability to measure how much of that is human-caused is really rooted in these satellites,” said JPL climate scientist Josh Willis, NASA’s project scientist for Jason-CS.

Since the dawn of the industrial age, humans have been emitting excess amounts of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases, causing Earth’s temperature to rise. Melting glaciers have added water to the oceans. The additional heat also causes water to expand, pushing sea levels up even higher.

Altogether, the oceans have absorbed more than 90% of the extra heat trapped by greenhouse gases, Willis said.

And since they cover more than two-thirds of Earth’s surface, the oceans are reshaping the planet.

“The oceans, in a really big way, are kind of our most important indicator of just how much humans have changed the climate since the start of the industrial revolution,” Willis said.

From an orbit 830 miles above Earth, Sentinel-6/Jason-CS will scan 95% of the planet’s ice-free oceans, gathering a new set of global data every 10 days. Its altimeter will bounce a radar signal off the water’s surface, measuring the time it takes for the signal to return and using that information to calculate the ocean’s height.

Other instruments will hone those readings by compensating for the atmosphere’s effect on the timing of these radar signals, and by helping keep track of the spacecraft’s precise position.

The first Sentinel spacecraft in a clean room in Germany. The satellite is scheduled to launch in November.

(IABG)

Beyond average sea level, the radar readings will provide a wealth of additional information for researchers, who can use them to determine heat changes in the upper ocean, the flow of ocean currents, wave heights and the speed of wind over the water.

The data may even shed light on much of the still-mysterious topography of the sea floor, said Eric Leuliette, the Jason program and project scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“As my colleagues here often point out, we’ve mapped Venus, the moon and Mars better than we’ve mapped the bottom of the ocean,” he said.

Jason data hits the ground running, Leuliette said. Within hours, it’s sent out to National Weather Service forecasters, whose predictions are used by ships for navigation and other maritime purposes. Within a day, it goes into models that help meteorologists make better predictions about large weather events. For example, the information Jason gathers on how much heat is stored beneath the ocean surface can help in forecasting the intensity of a hurricane, or the strength of an El Niño event.

Sentinel-6/Jason-CS is part of an international collaboration involving NASA, NOAA, the European Space Agency, the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) and France’s National Center for Space Studies (CNES).

The spacecraft will fly in the same orbit as its predecessors, to ensure an unbroken line of sea level readings. That consistency is key for predicting future sea level rise — and preparing for its consequences, Willis said.

Unlike prior missions, which involved only a single spacecraft, this one will employ two satellites, each with a primary mission of five years, said Parag Vaze, Jason’s project manager at JPL. The first is scheduled to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California in November, and the second will follow in 2025, making it the most long-lived of the Jason missions to date.

Sentinel-6/Jason-CS will also meet a different end than its forebears, Vaze said.

In an effort to reduce the accumulation of space junk, the two satellites will be the first in the Jason line to execute a planned de-orbit once they complete their final tasks. Even as the older satellites continue to circle the globe, their younger brethren will burn up in the atmosphere as they plunge back toward Earth.





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