Is the future of EVs modular? An Israeli start-up certainly thinks so

12 Jul 2019

Image: © Artinun/

This week in future tech, an Israeli start-up wants to bring a revolution in design to EVs by making them modular.

At one point the idea of modular phones that could be pieced together to make a ‘Frankenphone’ was seen as the future, but now a start-up in Israel thinks the same concept can be applied to electric vehicles (EVs). Quite differently from other EV manufacturers, Ree integrates all of the components typically found underneath the bonnet – such as the motor, electronics and steering – and places them in the wheels.

The company said this provides a low centre of gravity to maximise efficiency and supports the vehicle’s agility and stability. It also purports to drastically reduces a vehicle’s footprint and weight as well as improving both energy efficiency and performance.

“The concepts of the past are limited and restrict the ability of the automotive industry to realise the electric and autonomous reality they are striving for,” said Ree’s co-founder and CEO Daniel Barel.

“Until now, the industry has operated by making incremental improvements on the traditional design of the automotive vehicle. At Ree, we believe that in order to hasten the automotive revolution we need to reinvent the wheel – quite literally.”

If the Ree platform becomes a success, a car brand can build any type of EV it wants on top of the modular car platform.

Amazon Echos will now start giving health advice in UK

Amazon’s personal assistant AI Alexa – through the company’s Echo smart speaker – will now be able to dole out medical advice to users in the UK. According to the BBC, Alexa will tap into the NHS’s website and look for answers to a variety of medical questions.

Until now, Alexa would have just trawled through search results for popular answers, but the UK government hopes that by giving it access to NHS material, it could take some strain off its busy health centres.

UK health secretary Matt Hancock said the NHS was right to embrace technology as is a way for “every patient to take better control of their healthcare”.

However, concerned privacy campaigners have questions over whether Amazon would ensure any medical information said into Echo devices would remain confidential. A spokesperson for the e-commerce giant responded by saying: “All data was encrypted and kept confidential. Customers are in control of their voice history and can review or delete recordings.”

Fishless fish is the new project for Impossible Foods

The company behind the much publicised meat-free Impossible Burger has decided to turn its attentions to fishless fish. According to The New York Times, it would be produced using Impossible Food’s patented form of heme which replicates the taste and aroma of meat.

The company’s CEO Pat Brown said that it has already created an anchovy-flavoured broth made from plants and believes the same recipe for its beef products can be replicated for seafood.

However, some in the food industry doubt whether the demand for fake fish would be as high as that seen for fake beef and other red meats.

Food industry expert Tom Rees of Euromonitor International is one such figure who said: “A lot of people will simply say if you eat meat, you’re increasing your risk of cancer. There isn’t an equivalent of that for fish.”

Satellite IoT connections to hit 24m mark by 2024

Despite drawing criticism from astronomers, the number of satellites in Earth’s orbit is set to ‘skyrocket’. According to a new report from ABI Research, as many as 24m internet of things (IoT) connections will be made via satellite by 2024.

The areas expected to see significant growth include agriculture, asset tracking, maritime tracking and aviation tracking. In particular, maritime and aviation tracking are considered two important markets for the satellite space due to the lack of terrestrial infrastructures available within their location.

“Terrestrial cellular networks only cover 20pc of the Earth’s surface, while satellite networks can cover the entire surface of the globe, from pole to pole,” said Harriet Sumnall, research analyst at ABI Research. “The expansion of the satellite constellations that are currently in orbit and those due to take place will allow for connectivity to be more global. While the market using satellite connection is still immature, it shows great opportunities for growth.”

Newcomers such as SpaceX and Amazon, the report added, will bring immense challenges to established players such as Inmarsat and GlobalStar. Their entry into the market means these and other conventional satellite providers will not only have to consider driving their prices down to become more competitive than the newcomers, but also be sure they stay relevant within the market.

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Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic