CES 2012 Highlights: Acer Aspire S5 Ultrabook
This year, Business Review Canada is one of the fortunate few that are able to attend Consumer Electronic Show (CES) 2012. Checking out the newest and most innovative technology that is planned for 2012, Business Review Canada is featuring some real eye catchers that have been deemed by the publication as big highlights of the conference.
Acer Aspire S5 Ultrabook
Marketed as the “world’s thinnest Ultrabook”, Acer debuted its Aspire S5 at CES 2012. The Ultrabook features elegant design, Intel Core i3 to i7 processor capabilities and unique Acer technologies such as Acer Always Connect, Acer Green Instant On and MagicFlip.
Acer determined that consumers not only want, but need instant access to their computers. Therefore, Acer eliminated the hibernate function completely from its new Ultrabook. The Acer Green Instant On enables an instant-resume functionality, reducing the Ultrabook’s load time to 1.5 seconds.
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Part of the instant access capabilities that Acer is heralding is Acer Always Connect.
“Acer Always Connect gets users online faster than conventional connections for better productivity and infotainment enjoyment. With their Facebook, Twitter and Outlook email accounts open, users can see updates instantly upon resuming. Furthermore, Acer Always Connect can wake up the Aspire S5 from a remote device like a smartphone. Access to all documents, music, pictures and video files is fast and always available,” said an official Acer press release.
Another cool feature, and one of the reasons the Acer Aspire S5 is so thin, is Acer’s new innovation MagicFlip. Concealing the HDMI, a thunderbolt and two USB 3.0 connections, the I/O port panel streamlines the slender design of the Aspire S5. Providing stealth as well as protection, Magic Flip is available at the press of a button.
The Acer Aspire S5 is an Ultrabook to anticipate. Acer expects to offer it for retail in Q2 of 2012.
Dr Peng Wei: Designing the Future of Autonomous Aircraft
Air traffic is expected to double by 2037. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the world will need 37,000+ new passenger and freight aircraft, and more than half a million new pilots—unless we come up with another solution. Right now, a George Washington University School of Engineering and Applied Science professor, Dr Peng Wei, is starting to research autonomous electric aircraft design.
NASA will fund the research, which will study how to minimise risks for electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL). As Airbus states: ‘Autonomous technologies also have the potential to improve air traffic management, enhance sustainability performance and further improve aircraft safety’.
Who is Dr Wei?
An assistant professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Dr Wei has researched aircraft control, optimisation, and AI and ML applications in aviation. Over the next three years, he’ll lead the US$2.5mn NASA grant project in collaboration with researchers from Vanderbilt, the University of Texas at Austin, and MIT’s Lincoln Lab.
Why is His Research Important?
Even though the wide adoption of self-piloting cars, much less aircraft, is still far down the road, technologies that Dr Wei and his colleagues are researching will form the commercial transport of the future. But aviation manufacturers, in order to produce autonomous aircraft, will have to meet extremely high safety standards.
‘The key challenge for self-piloting capabilities is how the system reacts to unforeseen events’, said Arne Stoschek, Wayfinder Project Executive at Acubed. ‘That’s the big jump from automated to autonomous’. In the air, AI-piloted aircraft will have to manoeuvre around adverse weather conditions, such as wind and storms, and other high-altitude risks, such as GPS hacking, cyberattacks, and aircraft degradation. And the stakes are high.
‘If a machine learning algorithm makes a mistake in Facebook, TikTok, Netflix —that doesn't matter too much because I was just recommended a video or movie I don't like’, Dr Wei said. ‘But if a machine learning algorithm mistake happens in a safety-critical application, such as aviation or in autonomous driving, people may have accidents. There may be fatal results’.
What Are His Other Projects?
In addition to the new NASA research, Dr Wei has been awarded three other grants to pursue AI-piloted aircraft:
- A 2-year grant from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in conjunction with West Virginia University and Honeywell Aerospace to investigate “learning-based” aviation systems
- A six-month SBIR Phase I NASA award with Intelligent Automation to mitigate airspace congestion at vertiports—the electric craft version of airports.
- A 1-year collaborative grant with the University of Virginia and George Mason University from the Virginia Commonwealth Cyber Initiative (CCI) to develop anti-cyber attack technologies and aviation video systems
Research like NASA and Dr Wei’s three-year programme will help improve how AI reacts and adapts to challenging air conditions. In coming years, autonomous aircraft will likely take off slowly, starting with small package delivery, then upgraded drones, and finally commercialised aircraft. But congestion issues will worsen until autonomous aircraft are the best alternative.
According to BBC Future, by 2030, commuters will spend nearly 100 hours a year in Los Angeles and Moscow traffic jams, and 43 cities will be home to more than 10 million people. The final verdict? Bring on the AI-operated transit.