Author Archives: Novikava Katsiaryna

The mobile charging robot

Reading Time: 2 minutes

The German automaker says it’s moving forward with making the idea a reality

Volkswagen says it’s made a prototype of the electric vehicle charging robot concept it first showed off in proof-of-concept form in late 2019, and that it plans to keep developing the idea. The giant German automaker apparently liked the concept so much that the prototype charging robot looks almost identical to the concept version, complete with blinking digital eyes and R2-D2 noises.

“A ubiquitous charging infrastructure is and remains a key factor in the success of electric mobility. Our charging robot is just one of several approaches, but is undoubtedly one of the most visionary,” explains Thomas Schmall, Volkswagen Group Components’ CEO.

The robot works simply enough in theory. The charging robot – started via an app or Car-to-X communication – operates totally autonomously. It independently steers the vehicle to be charged and communicates with it: from opening the charging socket flap to connecting the plug and decoupling it. The entire charging process takes place without any human involvement whatsoever. To charge several vehicles at the same time, the mobile robot moves a trailer, essentially a mobile energy storage unit, to the vehicle, connects it up and then uses this energy storage unit to charge the battery of the electric vehicle. The energy storage unit stays with the vehicle during the charging process. In the meantime, the robot charges other electric vehicles. Once the charging service has ended, the robot independently collects the mobile energy storage unit and takes it back to the central charging station.

It’s a fun idea, though there are a number of possible points of failure that Volkswagen didn’t address in the press release. For one, the charging robot depends on cars being connected to an overall network of some kind (known in the industry as V2X or “vehicle to everything”) in order to communicate with the robot. But that’s an idea that has yet to take hold, and one that is fraught with unglamorous but nevertheless foundational problems, like arguing about which standard to use.

Also, calling this version of the charging robot a “prototype” implies that Volkswagen has got a working version, but the company didn’t actually show it in action as part of the announcement. Instead, Volkswagen merely released a “first glimpse,” involving just a glossy commercial for the robot and a few photos.

The business unit is currently working on a complete DC charging family. The flexible quick-charging station will be launched onto the market in early 2021. 


Siemens, Porsche partner on hydrogen-based fuel production

Reading Time: 3 minutesPorsche, Siemens Energy and a lineup of international companies are developing and implementing a pilot project in southern Chile that is expected to yield the world’s first integrated, commercial, industrial-scale plant for making synthetic hydrogen-based climate-neutral fuels (eFuels). What is more, as part of Germany’s national hydrogen strategy, Siemens Energy will get a grant of some 8 million euros from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy in support of the project.

Siemens will provide its proton exchange membrane electrolysis technology. To produce hydrogen, electrolyzers use wind energy to split water into oxygen (O) and hydrogen (H). On a second stage, CO2 is filtered directly from the air and then combined with hydrogen to form synthetic methanol (СН₃OH). The result: renewable methanol, which is converted to synthetic gasoline using ExxonMobil-licensed MTG technology (short for Methanol-to-Gasoline).

Christian Bruch, CEO Siemens Energy

“Establishing a sustainable energy economy is going to require some rethinking. Renewable energy will no longer be produced only where it’s needed, but where natural resources like wind and sun are available on a massive scale. New supply chains are going to arise all over the world to carry renewable energy from one region to another. Hydrogen will come to play an increasingly important role in storing and transporting energy.”

Porsche CEO Oliver Blume

“Electromobility is a top priority at Porsche. eFuels for cars are a worthwhile complement to that – if they’re produced in parts of the world where a surplus of sustainable energy is available. They are an additional element on the road to decarbonisation. Their advantages lie in their ease of application: eFuels can be used in combustion engines and plug-in hybrids, and can make use of the existing network of filling stations. By using them, we can make a further contribution toward protecting the climate. As a maker of high-performance, efficient engines, we have broad technical expertise. We know exactly what fuel characteristics our engines need in order to operate with minimal impact on the climate. Our involvement in the world’s first commercial, integrated eFuels plant supports the development of the alternative fuels of the future.

911 GT3 RS, 2020, Porsche AG

In the pilot phase, around 130,000 litres of eFuels will be produced as early as 2022. In two further phases, capacity will then be increased to about 55 million litres of eFuels a year by 2024, and around 550 million litres of eFuels by 2026. Porsche will be the primary customer for the green fuel.

If this project successes, eFuels can become not only a good substitution for the traditional gasoline, but also an opponent for electric systems, taking into consideration the fact that a huge variety of cars are perfectly adopted to gasoline systems. Consequently, it is much easier and more profitable to switch to eFuels.

In the automotive industry opinions concerning the synthesized carbon-neutral fuel have splitted. Porsche (and generally the Volkswagen concern) considers such projects to be promising. The same point share McLaren and Ford. But the bosses of Mercedes-Benz / Daimler recently abandoned this idea, considering it unviable, at least in the medium term.



January 2020, Facebook’s second attempt

Reading Time: 2 minutesIn 2018 Mark Zuckerberg announced the creation of a division dedicated to blockchain and David Marcus, Facebook vice president, was moved from Facebook Messenger to a new division.  Confirmation that Facebook intended a cryptocurrency, known as”Global Coin” or “Facebook Coin”  first emerged in 2019. Libra was formally announced on June 18, 2019 as brand-new currency tied to a basket of fiat currencies and securities. Many central banks and regulators have been concerned about this project. That’s why the Libra Association, the consortium created by Facebook, changed course and started working on several single-currency stable coins. According to a report from the Financial Times, cryptocurrency Libra could launch in January 2020.

Stable coins are cryptocurrencies that do not fluctuate in value against a specific fiat currency. This gives Libra a big advantage over bitcoin. Libra mentioned USD, EUR, GBP or SGD as base currencies for its various stable coins: 50% United States dollar, 18% Euro, 14% Japanese yen, 11% Pound sterling and 7% Singapore dollar.

Facebook will most likely launch its own Libra wallet, Novi, at the same time.

Novi is a pure Facebook project headed by David Marcus. You will be able to download a standalone Novi app on your phone. While you do not need a Facebook or WhatsApp account to create a Novi account, it will also be accessible directly in Messenger and WhatsApp — you’ll be able to tap on a button to launch a Novi menu to send and receive money through the Novi wallet. It promises instant transactions and “no hidden fees” for cross-border money transfers and local payments. It is unclear whether Novi means there will not be any fees or there will be fees but the company will be transparent about them. Novi will also act as a ramp to convert fiat money to crypto assets and cash out your cryptocurrencies to traditional fiat currencies.But the main disadvantage – only a limited set of countries will be able to access the service at first.

It difficult to say whether Libra and Novi will be successful or not as it sounds great and promising on the one hand. But, on the other hand, one similar project has already failed. It was called ‘Gram (TON)’ and held by cross-platform Telegram and Pavel Durov. Unfortunately, on May 12, 2020, Pavel Durov officially announced in his Telegram channel the closure of the TON project, which involved the use of the Gram cryptocurrency due to the fact that the court of New York banned the Gram cryptocurrency.

Taking into consideration the fact, that Libra is still awaiting approval from United States regulators, we may only wish the Libra Association all the best the and look forward to seeing how the project will be implemented.


Swiss Data Protection? What if this is just another lie?..

Reading Time: 3 minutes

‘Europe demands different’ says pCloud CEO

PCloud is your personal cloud space where you can store all your files and folders. Based in Switzerland, it has a user-friendly interface that clearly shows where everything is located and what it does. The software is available for almost all devices and platforms – iOS and Android devices, MacOSX, Windows OS, and all Linux distributions. All your devices are instantly synchronized and you have direct file access to any update you make. Generally speaking, pCloud is the European analogue of well-known US iCloud or Google Drive.

PCloud has seen a 500% growth in just four years. Today it is over 10.5 million users strong and growing rapidly. It has become famous for their security standard, which has taken all the necessary steps to meet full GDPR compliance.

What is GDPR? Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation, brought by the European Parliament, is a set of measures to enhance EU user privacy rights (from May 25, 2018). It imposes strict regulations on how organizations operating in the EU collect, store and manage personal information.

What is more, pCloud offers not only reasonable prices but also lifetime plan/ lifetime subscription.

It all sounds great, does not it? But there are nuances.

 Firstly, to guarantee your files’ safety, pCloud uses TLS/SSL encryption, applied when information is being transferred from your device to the pCloud servers. Optionally, you can subscribe for pCloud Crypto and have your most important files encrypted and password protected. Without additional encryption, pCloud is able to get access to your data at any time, as the keys for file decryption are stored on their servers.

Secondly, the company reserves the right to cooperate with law enforcement agencies by disclosing your personal information, or to review your files at its sole discretion to make sure that nothing violates their rules. Such conditions immediately make it clear that behind loud slogans about guarantees of absolute confidentiality of stored files will be observed only if additional paid services are used. Neither pCloud as a service provider, nor any authority or service will ever have access to your encrypted files. They do not store your Crypto Pass on servers, which means that you are the one in charge.

Personal data will be stored in pCloud for the period set by EU and US laws (depending on the servers where your files are stored). Personal data may be stored for longer if the company deems it necessary or if it does not violate the law. PCloud also collects information about you while you are using the service, including your IP address, browser type, information about your operating system, your time, phone number, location data, session duration, viewed sections, folders, pages, and etc.

Nothing is free; everything has a price. In this particular case you pay company with money or, otherwise, with your data.




Laptop, Tablet or Both?

Reading Time: 2 minutesWe live in an age when it is impossible not to have a PC. It is needless to say that people who are connected to digital drawing, graphics or gaming have faced the problem of quite a difficult choice: to buy a tablet for sketching and graphics? to buy a gaming laptop? or just to buy a computer in order to use it for coding, working and studying? And how not to go bankrupt on the one hand but fulfil your ambitions on the other one?

This year Asus has come up with the solution and presented Asus ZenBook Flip 14.

Firstly, the sleek four-sided NanoEdge design makes ZenBook extra slim and compact, with an amazing 90% screen-to-body ratio. Its Core™i7 processor (10th Gen Intel® CPU), up to 16GB RAM and 1TB SSD, Windows 10 Pro and gaming-grade graphics (discrete graphics chip supercharges your laptop for work or play) give you effortless performance for on-the-go productivity and visual creativity.

Secondly, the 360° ErgoLift hinge. This innovation also lifts and tilts the keyboard into a comfortable typing position when the display is opened beyond 135°. Otherwise, you turn the display on 360° and, in a moment, you have a tablet in your arms. Now, all you need for sketching or graphics is taking a stylus and a couple of free hours. For this reason, the laptop has the touch display and a perfect fixation of the display thanks to well-made hinges.

Thirdly, the new ScreenPad 2.0 upgrades the traditional laptop experience, adding an interactive secondary touchscreen. Its intuitive smartphone-like interface lets you easily manage tasks and create your own seamless multitasking workflow. There are useful quick controls that improve the interactions between the main display and ScreenPad: for instance, you can now launch a video or chat box — or many other apps — onto ScreenPad to take advantage of the extra space wherever you are, and without interrupting your work on the main display.

Taking everything into account, Asus has not presented an outstanding nor unusual design of their laptop. They have not added a fantastic camera, have not invented something new instead of facial log in. Nevertheless, this laptop charms customers and it is almost impossible to find something more universal than ZenBook Flip 14 nowadays.