We need to redesign ‘HGVs’, to be driverless, and to run down the underused ‘hard shoulders’ of motorways (with appropriate detection of obstacles, such as broken cars in way).
An alternative charging solution could be ‘pitstop stations’, which are areas set off the motorway hard shoulder, allowing the vehicle to stop and charge, whilst not obstructing the hard shoulder traffic lane.
Driverless HGVs could also be electric-powered, self-charging, using under road wireless charging.
This blog post is about my ideas for the future road ahead.
Roads as we know them today, have been around for millennia, in one shape or form.
Although they are probably better than they have ever been, from a historical perspective, they are not perfect.
Heavy traffic levels, combined with restricted road maintenance budgets in many countries, have led to crumbling road surfaces.
If trucks could fly then you solve the problem of the road wear.
Of course, trucks don’t fly, well at least not yet they don’t.
Drone trucks could replace conventional road trucks, and save road wear.
Road wear would be eliminated because the drone trucks would hover off the ground.
The drone trucks would be guided using radio waves, guided by radio beacons, and GPS.
Drone Truck Safety.
Trucks are obviously heavy, so having one hovering above other road users could be potentially dangerous.
The issue with conventional drones is that they use propellers to make them fly.
The size of propellers needed to lift the drone truck, and its cargo, would need to be large.
Large propellers need large electric motors to power them, which require lots of power.
An alternative hybrid solution involving an airship combined with a traditional drone might be the solution.
The drone truck I have in mind (and have designed in principle) would be capable of carrying heavy loads for long distances.
The drone truck would be guided by wireless beacons and GPS tracking.
The drone truck would not require a driver, which would save money for the haulage operator.
Not having a driver would also eliminate the need for drivers to stop for statutory rest breaks.
This improves the operational efficiency of the vehicle and greater return on investment.
Creating a world farm would have two main advantages.
The first advantage is economy of scale, and the second advantage is increased profit and revenue.
So first I will explain what I mean by a world farm. What I mean is using technology to manage areas of agricultural land, located in geographically disperate locations.
An example is having a wheat field in the UK, and another in Australia, managed through communications technology.
Whatever your views on world politics, globalisation is here to stay, an will likely increase due to technology.
Smart agriculture offers more efficient farming through the application of sensors and robotics.
The Internet of Things uses environmental sensors, to collect data, such as soil ‘ph’.
The data is transmitted wirelessly from the sensors, using LPWAN technologies such as LoraWAN or Sigfox.
At the receiving end of the data transmission, a device called a Gateway, receives the wirelessly transmitted data, and puts it onto the Internet.
Once the data from the remote sensors is in the internet cloud, analysis and automated decisions can be made.
Robotics also now being developed to replace humans in agricultural food production.
An example of a farming process currently often done by humans, is picking cabbages.
Picking cabbages is labor intensive, and therefore is significant in the costs of production for the farmer.
A robotic solution would have a high initial outlay cost, but may be cheaper over a number of years of expected operational life.
As happens today with some agricultural processes, such as ploughing, there is a new potential business opportunity for agricultural contractors. In the future contractors may well bring a robot to a farm, rather than a tractor or plough!
Of course with the introduction of driverless vehicles, in the future the Plough may bring itself to the farm!
So back to creating a world farm, which is the focus of this blog post after all.
Just to recap for non technical readers, what IOT actually means.
IOT is short for the ‘Internet of Things’.
IOT is a general term that covers any device or machine connected to the Internet.
Therefore IOT devices encompass both devices used by the public, such as sensors on mobile phones, and also Industrial IOT (IIOT).
IOT devices use a variety of wireless connection technologies, but they work at a terrestrial level.
What I mean by terrestrial, is that the radio signals are all transmitted from the ground.
The radio frequencies used in IOT devices vary, but are at radio frequencies above 30 Mhz (MegaHertz).
In normal atmospheric conditions, radio transmissions at frequencies above 30Mhz travel in ‘line of sight’.
What this means is that they don’t bounce off the ground, or atmospheric layers, as is possible at frequencies below 30 Mhz (known as ‘HF’, or High Frequency).
Using HF frequencies long transmission distances of thousands of miles are possible, due to the signals ‘hopping’ and being reflected by various ground and atmospheric layers (intend to write a separate blog post on this).
IOT devices don’t use HF frequencies below 30 Mhz, for a few reasons, one being that a very long antenna is needed at lower frequencies. This makes using it impractical for wireless field sensors.
Therefore we are dealing with radio waves above 30 Mhz, traveling in basically straight lines.
Now consider the shape of the Earth, which unless you are a ‘flat earther’, is round.
As the distance between the wirelessly connected sensor and the receiver increases, the curvature of the earth can become a factor.
In radio communications, such as the mobile (cell) phone system, antennas for the cell base stations are mounted on towers.
The reason in case you haven’t already guessed, is to help overcome the earths curvature.
Having a high antenna allows the signals to travel further, without obstruction.
Now in the case of agricultural crop monitoring, the sensors might be in the ground. Whilst it may be possible to mount the sensor antenna higher than the sensor itself, it will still likely be near ground level.
Now of course in theory you could attach a long antenna coaxial cable, between the sensor unit and the antenna.
This however would reduce the power of the signal being transmitted, due to increased signal attenuation caused by the long antenna cable.
Induction motors are a common type of ac motor, used in both industries and onboard ships, with a number of induction motor starters.
The type of induction motor starters that are chosen, depending on a number of factors.
Direct On Line Starters (D.O.L)
Direct online, or D.O.L for short, are a simple way to switch on smaller ac Induction Motors.
DOL is used to start smaller induction motors, which have a current rating of up to 10 amps.
In a DOL starter system, a Contactor is used to switch on the induction motor.
The Contactor is similar to a large electrical relay, and its function is to switch on and off, the large currents drawn by the induction motor.
When the operator presses the start button on the control panel, a voltage is supplied to an insulated coil inside the Contactor.
The coil works as an electromagnet and exerts a magnetic pull on the switch contacts also inside the Contactor casing.
The magnetic field causes the switch contacts to close, therefore allowing current to flow into the induction motor and starts it.
The switch on the control panel that is used to start the motor only works when it is pushed in. As soon as the operator releases their finger, the power ceases.
This is obviously not convenient to have to hold the button in, therefore an extra ‘auxiliary contact’ is included in the Contactor, which is wired to ‘lock’ the supply current on, even once the button is released.
The Contactor will remain locked on, allowing the induction motor to run, until a separate off button is pressed.
The off button breaks the link to the auxiliary contact, which releases the Contactor, and cuts the electrical supply to the motor.
In a three-phase DOL starter system, a single-phase supply is taken from one of the input phases and fed into the primary side of a single-phase step down transformer.
The output from the transformer is used to supply the coil inside the Contactor, which closes the contacts, and makes the motor start.
Star-Delta Starters, which the Americans call Wye-Delta Starters, are used for starting larger induction motors.
What I mean by larger induction motors, are motors that draw over 10 Amps of current at full load.
Induction motors have a metal plate on them which specifies the maximum current drawn by the motor.
This will be described as FLC, which is short for Full Load Current.
The reason we don’t use DOL starters for larger ac induction motors is something called ‘inrush current’.
When you first start an induction motor, the current drawn by the motor is a number of times higher than the motor’s steady operating current.
It’s similar to when you accelerate a car from a standstill, in that more energy is used to get it going than when it’s cruising at the desired operating speed.
The problem with having a high initial current on motor startup is that you need bigger capacity cables & contactor to cope with the large current.
Needing larger cables increases costs, as a motor with a FLC of 20 Amps, might have an ‘Inrush’ current of five or more times the FLC.
20 Amps x 5 = 100 Amps!
Star-Delta starters reduce the initial starting (inrush) current by starting the motor in a ‘Star’ wiring configuration.
A three-phase induction motor has three sets of coils in its Stator windings. This results in six connections coming out of the Stator (two ends of each of the three coils).