World’s first hydrogen-powered passenger train hits the rails in Austria

11 Sep 2020

The Alstom Coradia iLint hydrogen-powered train. Image: ÖBB/Marek Knopp

This week in future tech, an Alstom hydrogen-powered train will start taking passengers in Austria for the first time.

Train passengers in Austria, from today (11 September) will get a chance to travel on the first passenger train in the world to run on a hydrogen fuel cell, the Coradia iLint built by Alstom. Following successful tests in Germany that finished earlier this year, the train will conduct the public trial until the end of November.

Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) will test the Coradia iLint on regional railway lines in the country’s south, where they could replace diesel trains. It can reach speeds of 140kph and produce zero emissions. 41 of the hydrogen-powered trains have been sold in Germany, with the UK, the Netherlands, France and Italy interested in the technology.

“We clearly see ourselves as pioneers in testing hydrogen technology on rail,” said Andreas Matthä, CEO of ÖBB.

“As the largest climate protection company in Austria, we are actively shaping the mobility of the future with technological alternatives.”

Number of 5G devices now more than 400

The Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) has said that the number of 5G devices on the market has now reached more than 400, just two months after the milestone of 300 devices was reached. However, while 400 have been announced, only 138 are commercially available today.

“While, perhaps inevitably, the global Covid-19 epidemic has had a major impact on national plans for the assignment of spectrum for mobile services, 5G device announcements and launches have continued apace,” said Joe Barrett, president of GSA.

“The number of announced 5G phones has more than doubled since the end of March 2020, while the number of announced fixed wireless access CPE is up by almost 50pc in the same period. It is clear that regulators need to make spectrum available, since the mobile ecosystem is primed and ready to put 5G into people’s hands.”

Toyota creates $800m global fund for mobility tech

The Toyota Research Institute – Advanced Development (TRI-AD) has announced the launch of Woven Capital, an $800m investment fund for growth-stage companies in areas such as autonomous mobility, automation, AI, machine learning, analytics, connectivity and smart cities.

In addition to sourcing deals from Toyota’s early-stage venture capital fund, Toyota AI Ventures, Woven Capital will also invest in other venture capital funds in order to broaden and accelerate its global coverage. It will begin operations in January 2021.

“Woven Capital’s investments will enable us to weave together a global portfolio of partners and technologies that will deliver long-term value to our customers, stakeholders and society,” said TRI-AD CEO, James Kuffner.

“Woven Capital will also enable us to make growth-stage investments in companies in the Toyota AI Ventures portfolio as they look to raise additional capital.”

Cellular IoT devices in retail to reach 116.6m by 2024

According to a new report from Berg Insight, the number of IoT connections in the retail industry has reached 72.4m worldwide as of last year through devices such as ATMs, ticketing machines and digital signs.

Now, it has estimated that within the next five years this could be as high as 116.6m. Commenting on the findings, the industry research group said that, while the market for wirelessly connected point-of-service terminals is quite mature, most of the market growth is driven by the increasing use of electronic payments in emerging markets.

“Today only 4.2m of the world’s 15m vending machines are online,” said Johan Fagerberg, principal analyst at Berg Insight.

“Every vending machine will eventually be connected, but costs for the wireless IoT hardware and subscriptions still need to come down further before this vision becomes reality.”

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Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic