Toyota shows off latest hydrogen car with promise of 500km range

11 Oct 2019

The new Toyota Mirai. Image: Toyota

This week in future tech, Toyota revealed the second generation of its hydrogen car, as well as a concept car that will try to calm you down.

Almost five years after it launched the first commercially available hydrogen car on the market, Toyota has revealed the second generation of the Mirai series. With lobbying on the increase for rapid hydrogen vehicle adoption, Toyota hopes that this new edition will see an uptake in ownership at a time when much of the global refuelling infrastructure is either non-existent or in its infancy.

Toyota said the new Mirai will launch in late 2020 in Japan, North America and Europe, and will have a driving range of 500km on a tank of hydrogen gas. It is also aiming for an increase in efficiency of 30pc through improvements to the fuel cell and a larger on-board hydrogen tank.

Meanwhile, the Japanese auto giant also revealed a new concept car called LQ, which will use an AI assistant called Yui to constantly monitor the driver’s emotional state and alertness.

“The AI can engage with the driver using interactive voice communications, in-seat functions designed to increase alertness or reduce stress, in-vehicle illumination, air conditioning, fragrances and other human-machine interactions,” Toyota said.

But given that it is a concept car, don’t expect to see it on the roads anytime soon.

Eco-friendly graphene suitcase could cut CO2 emissions in air travel

While attempts to make air travel better for the environment are mostly focused on finding alternatives to polluting jet fuel, researchers at the University of Manchester and a start-up called GraphCase are focusing on what’s going into the aircraft.

They recently revealed a prototype for a graphene-based smart suitcase made from 100pc recycled plastic. It claims to be the first graphene suitcase that is 60pc stronger and 20pc lighter than average suitcases of an equivalent size. The material used in it can also be recycled multiple times while maintaining performance.

Its designers claim that one of the 20in cabin luggage cases could potentially reduce CO2 emissions by 6kg.

“We are hoping to bring our smart, strong and environmentally sustainable travel case to the market in the new year,” said Dr Shaila Afroj, co-founder of GraphCase. “By providing a high quality, extremely durable and 100pc recycled plastics-based suitcase, we would like to provide greatest experiences to the travellers.”

Teslas could soon fart instead of beep

Elon Musk’s affinity for the weird side of things was put into focus once more after he tweeted a claim that Tesla will release an update to let a customer change the horn sound of their car.

In his string of tweets, he suggested the sounds could range from coconuts – referencing the famous Monty Python and the Holy Grail scene – or even a fart sound. While it sounds fun, there are regulations to consider when it comes to how a car sounds.

Largely untouched for decades, EU regulation was recently brought in for electrics vehicles, which requires them to emit a noise at least 56 decibels in volume when travelling below 20kph.

Singapore start-up reveals robot with human-like grip

A new robot named Archimedes developed by a Singapore start-up called Eureka Robotics can pick up delicate optical lenses and mirrors with care and precision, just like a human hand.

Archimedes has a six-axis robot arm controlled by algorithms, which uses AI to plan its motion and how much force to exert in its grip to create a system that can mimic the dexterity of human fingers and the visual acuity of human eyes.

Founder of the start-up, Prof Pham Quang Cuong, said the robot differs from other industry robots that either have high accuracy but low agility, or low accuracy but high agility.

“With Archimedes, we have taken accuracy to the tens-of-micron level,” Pham said.

“Its accuracy of placing objects is within a tenth of a millimetre, yet it does so with the gentleness of a human touch, made possible by our control algorithms.”

The robot arm will now travel to a US laser optics manufacturer, after which it will look into adapting the platform for other types of manufacturing processes currently done with manual labour, such as drilling and tapping of custom machinery.

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Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic