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One particular limiting factor is their weight and width. We worked with prospective clients such as Aéroports de Paris and Alcatel Lucent and one requisite was that the gyropod should not be wider than 40cm to be carried up narrow staircases on industrial sites or to use escalators, because of the bollards that limit their access in most airports”. According to Lévy, the weight (non-portability) and width limitations of Segways make the running costs escalate, as industrial sites now need to provision individual units for each floor level to be accessed. The fleet may also be doubled just for the sake of availability, during battery charge times. According to the CEO, Segways was more focused on the B2C market, hoping to serve all purposes at once (commuting, recreational, industrial use) by pushing a product without really investigating into the specific requirements of each market. “Our specific battery design ensures 24/7 availability of the gyropod. And because our solution is lightweight and more energy efficient, we can use proven NiMH technology which is more rugged than Li-ion batteries and can be safely shipped or stocked” completes Lévy. Starting in January and February 2016, the startup will run a pilot trial at Aeroport de Paris, with between 7 and 10 vehicles shared across 55 users with different profiles and responsibilities. With over a 100 Hublex already pre-ordered, the CEO is confident it will get the funding to bring its gyropod to full scale electromobility production. The final R&D project was recently funded by SATT Paris-Saclay (a local technology transfer accelerator) for an amount of 300,000 euros. While the IP and patents belong to Université Paris-Sud, Hublex has exclusive licensing rights to industrialize the technology. In exchange of its investment, SATT Paris-Saclay will get a cut of the royalties. Hublex is now actively looking for investors to finalize the industrial and commercial development of its gyropod, hoping to secure one million euros within the next six months. For industrial use cases, Lévy thinks a leasing business model will be more attractive, offering 24/7 maintenance services as a package to large sites. The CEO ambitions to become the European leader of personal electromobility for the last mile on industrial estates, with gyropods manufactured in France. Five to six years down the line, Lévy hopes to enter the stock market and possibly expand its offering to consumers to grow beyond industrial markets, possibly with a lighter version just under 10 kg. Beyond electromobility, Hublex’ ingenious motor configuration could find use cases in robotics, potentially displacing many 3-wheeled implementations. The motor itself was custom designed and built so to withstand high radial loads (the Hublex is qualified to support 120kg), so in the future, the motors alone may justify a new line of business for the company. Radio powers autonomous temperature sensor By Peter Clarke Researchers at the Technical University of Eindhoven have developed a wireless temperature sensor that is powered by millimeter wavelength radio waves that are also used for communications. Eindhoven student Hao Gao was due to receive a Ph.D. earlier this month for his thesis in which he discusses his development of the sensor that has an area of 2 square millimeters and weighs 1.6mg. The sensor is made using a 65nm CMOS manufacturing process. A specially developed wireless router communicates with the sensor, which has an antenna on chip and picks up both energy and information from the millimeter wave signals. The current version of the sensor has a range of 2.5cm but researchers hope to extend this to a meter within a year. The autonomous nature of the temperature sensor means it can be put behind plasterboard or included in a screed of concrete or paint The sensor stores the energy received and once there is enough switches on, measures the temperature and sends a signal to the router. Each temperature is indicated by a slightly different frequency at which the return signal can be sent. The router determines the temperature by the distinctive frequency. The same technology could be used with other sensor types, such as motion, light and humidity. The tiny size of the silicon chip is expected to keep sensor costs down to around 20 cents in volume. The title of Hao Gao’s thesis is Fully Integrated Ultra-Low Power mm-Wave Wireless Sensor Design Methods. The IC research was done in the Mixed-Signal Microelectronics group and also involved university groups specialised in electromagnetics and signal processing systems as well as the Center of Wireless Technology. Temperature sensor on the finger of PhD-student Hao Gao. Photo: Bart van Overbeeke. Source: Technical University of Eindhoven. www.electronics-eetimes.com Electronic Engineering Times Europe January 2016 15


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