This car... where do i plug it in?

Mar 31st, 2021 by fractalside

The electric car is here. With the turn towards electric car of Volkswagen as result of “Dieselgate”, we can considerate that we've cross the point of no return. There is too money invested in the mobility change. Nowadays the variety and range of models is much larger than in previous decade. All that remains is price get equal, but the scale economy resulted from all these investments and the fall of batteries prices under 100$/KWh within the new decade will be key to trigger the definitive electric car take off, at least in developed countries.

So, aren't there more challenges? There are many, but the most lagging behind element are recharging stations no doubt. It's the whiting that bites its tail. Due there are not many vehicles in circulation new stations are not deployed, and due stations are not deployed, people will be suspicious of electric car. Recharge is now the Achilles heel of electric mobility, even above battery technology that is losing that role.

While a fueled vehicle is refilled almost immediately, the electric recharge require parking, that it can reach hours in case of low power. That reason although recharge stations are simpler, they must outnumber fuel stations. Also all the fuel stations are alike, but in the case of electric recharging we must take into account two different networks, high power for fast recharges in travels between cities and low power for everyday use within the cities.

A perspective of the charging issue is to compare between the biggest initiatives both sides of the Atlantic about high power recharge that it has been the first one been promoted.

A few time ago in USA Tesla noticed this problem, and it began to create it's own charge network changing all the paradigm, because until now car makers weren't at all the fuel stations owners. In this way the Supercharger network was born. The net has required a lot of years to reach a satisfactory level even in Europe and there's a lot of space yet for growing. But there's no doubt that it has been fundamental for allowing such a risky enterprise to survive at first and to be so successful later.

In Europe things gone not so well. Makers that have kept betting for fuel motors at first have relegated charge networks to third parties. This is the case of Ionity. You can see how is it lagging in Iberian Peninsula where is in collaboration with CEPSA. This issue is trend in social media because some early adopters of electric vehicle point that there's not only too few recharge station but they are also poorly reliable, and you are at risk of planning a particular station for recharge after exhausting range only to find that you can't recharge there and you don't know if you will reach the next one. For a sample these videos: Ford Mustang Eléctrico 2021 de  or Mi terrible experiencia de Eduardo Arcos . It's not the same a deployed charge station than an operative charge stations.

This situation doesn't match with the image that makers and governments want to show us, now even more that the plan to restart economy after Covid hurricane require betting on the technological change. For example this article goes further along this problem:  and it can explain news like this: .

We're still on time. The electric vehicle isn't popular yet, but this situation is not for long. Only high power charge network will require a lot of time, money and technology, and above all a mindset change. There's also the low power networks left, that they'll really support daily electric mobility and for this deployment there will have to be involved not only big actors but local goverments and all companies with parking space.

electric vehicles, cars, Europe, USA

The Iberian Peninsula for Euro Truck Simulator 2

Mar 9th, 2021 by fractalside

Euro Truck Simulator 2 Source: SCS Software 

Iberia expansion release for Eurotruck Simulator 2 video game has been announced, adding Spain and Portugal maps to the game.

Eurotruck Simulator 2, as its name implies, is a driver simulator focused in Europe. There's a very similar twin-game, American Truck Simulator that allows the same in the USA. This is not an action game neither an especially hard simulator, although it succeed conveying the feeling of reality. The ultimate goal is you enjoy the activity of driving, better with a steering wheel, while you contemplate a landscape that is a reward itself. A relaxing game versus the classical premise of an action game. If you want a bit more of stress, you can also choice dangerous goods and tight delivery schedules.

Maps are like a tasting table of the Real Europe, where distances are narrowed at the expense of removing more repetitive places and the passing of the hours of the day is accelerated. Imagine a slice of mountains at dawn, a slice of sunny plains in the morning, a slice of rainy city in the afternoon, a slice of coast with an already clear sky at dusk... All of these almost in the same order you found them in real world. This way you don't need eight real hours to ship a cargo, but still the you'll feel a wide map spanning a continent. Because this game has been on the market for a long time is a very refined product thanks to a continuous review that it have polished aesthetic and maps.

The core game is relatively cheap, above all if you wait a time for a new discount in Steam. The real earnings are obtained selling the inevitable DLCs of maps and aesthetic elements for trucks. As multiplayer is not implemented, in not for mods that are also admitted, the cosmetic purpose is “to show off truck” in the screen captures. In fact with the faithful recreation of trucks and landscapes, to take photos of your truck around the world is another of the game incentives. The game without DLC already have a very wide map and give access to all trucks once you get enough game money, just playing, to buy them.

Talking now about the Iberia expansion, all this development time the author company has offered to us little samples of what awaits us. The different DLCs almost covered the rest of Europe, so this expansion has been waited a long time. In that we've already seen we notice an effort to recreate a whole set of original elements from the most obvious things like traffic signals to the most picturesque. There are items we are well acquainted with but we don't realize they're are very own: vegetation, the appearance of some buildings or the aspect of some highways, infrastructure or business materials. We've even recognized some full real places in these pictures.

For deep Iberian fans of the game, an almost mandatory acquisition. There's a month and a bit more left... For everybody else, it can wait a little more, but it is always an incentive to discover the game.

There's an additional new. They have announced the next map after Iberia too With the expansion “Beyond the Baltic Sea” you could already go into Russia reaching St. Petersburg. But when they will develop the next expansion “Heart of Russia” you can go until the upper course of the Volga, including Moscow of course. So the next year sometime we will can to make the journey Lisbon – Moscow that, even with game reduction are a lot of hours of landscapes of all kinds.

videogames, DLC, Spain, Portugal

Back to Mars in 2021

Feb 19th, 2021 by fractalside

First picture from Mars - Perseverance - Source: NASA 

Yesterday I watch the landing of a probe in Mars on-live for first time. It was the Perseverance rover from NASA. It was helpful for me that it was at 10 at night local time. A fairly reasonable time to avoid missing it.

Everything was very fast. All the time was shared between a CGI animation with telemetry data, the list of checkpoints for descent that must be accomplished in the right way and the reactions from a control room that had years of work and a huge budget at stake. Suddenly with the (virtual) picture of the robot laying on the Mars floor, control room burst with joy.

Although we lived the landing in a virtual way, the first real pictures was sent by the robot only a few seconds after the landing. World could watch on-live pictures of the Martian horizon, the shadow of the vehicle and its wheel steadily on the ground just as they reached Earth

Perseverance is one of the three probes from all around the world that this 2021 February up the coast of the red planet, after a travel of half year and more than 400 million kilometers. Other two are الأمل Al´amal (Hope in Arabic) of United Arab Emirates and 天问一号Tianwen 1 (Asking Heaven in Chinese)

Mars, the Earth and everything in the Universe is in motion: There's not fix distances neither schedules with established fuel consumption, but there are “Orbital Black Fridays”, launch windows. They're days where Planets are aligned like pool balls allowing to travel with the minimum cost, something more necessary than to travel in the minimum time. That's the reason for Earth explorers to travel to Mars grouped in fleets roughly each two years.

Tianwen entered orbit on February 10th of 2021, as the first Chinese probe that accomplish the goal on this Planet as it showed to us in a video. The point is it also includes a rover powered by solar panels that will land sometime in the next three months in “Utopia Planitia”. China has already demonstrated it skills with this kind of vehicles on the Moon.

Al´amal was the first one entering orbit, on February 9th .This probe has not been developed by one of the great powers. Emirates doesn't reach 10 million of habitants. This is a more simple mission, but also interesting in the sense that give access to space to new countries. Smaller countries mastering Space technology can contribute to turn Space Exploration into a multinational project. Furthermore investment in technology of oil producing countries will allow them to diversify their economies and to face renewable energy transition.

Perseverance is a huge robot of more than one ton, the biggest sent anytime. Selected landing place is the crater “Jezero” which have traces of liquid water in past times. Although Perseverance are similar in structure to its older brother, its scientific payload is very different in order to complete performed research till now.

The most innovative contribution is an small drone “Ingenuity”. If everything goes right, it will be the first device flying over Mars. However this drone is only a technology demonstrator. The main dish for Perseverance is analysis of the Martian ground samples in search of life traces, and its “packing” to make them available to future samples recovery missions, that they can send them back to the Earth to an even more detailed study.

Exploration adventure for these three ships has just began. We'll be in hope that they will keep working a long time without any setback and they will allow to us to learn a lot more about Mars and Solar System exploration.

Space, Mars