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Daily Archives: May 29, 2022

Chart: S&P500 10%+ Correction Since 1946

Source : Deutsche Bank

Charts: U.S. Housing

Source : Of Two Minds

Humour: News in Cartoons

For Americans, 2021 Delivered Healthiest Finances in 8 Years

Christopher Rugaber wrote . . . . . . . . .

Americans’ financial health reached its highest level in nearly a decade last year, the Federal Reserve said Monday, spurred by a strong job market and government support payments.

Almost eight in 10 adults said last fall that they were either “doing okay or living comfortably” when it came to their finances in 2021, according to an annual Fed survey, the highest proportion to say so since the survey began in 2013.

The survey of 11,000 adults was taken last October and November, when inflation had topped 6% year-over-year, though before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine pushed gas and food prices sharply higher. The Fed did not ask any specific questions about how inflation was impacting Americans’ financial situations.

The survey also took place before the huge omicron wave of COVID cases occurred in late 2021, causing some Americans to pull back on travel and other spending.

The financial health captured by the report helps explain the resilience of consumers in the face of higher prices, as consumer spending, adjusted for inflation, has continued to rise even as inflation is near a 40-year high.

The report found that members of all racial groups reported healthier finances, with Hispanics showing the sharpest improvement and whites the smallest.

Nearly seven in 10 people said they could pay an unexpected expense of $400 with cash or its equivalent, the highest since 2013. Still, 11% said they would be unable to pay it at all.

People with children also reported a sharp increase in financial well-being, with three-quarters saying they were doing “at least okay” financially, up eight percentage points from 2020 and four points above 2019, before the pandemic.

The boost for parents likely reflected the reopening of schools, Fed officials said, allowing more parents to work and reduce their child care expenses. The expansion of the child tax credit, included in President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion financial relief package, was also likely an important factor, Fed officials said.

Lower-income parents reported the biggest increases in their financial health. For those earning less than $25,000, the proportion that said they were doing at least okay jumped to 53% from 40%.

The expanded child tax credit included monthly payments of up to $300 per child to most parents. Higher-income parents said they mostly saved the money, while for those with incomes of less than $50,000, three in 10 said they spent the largest portion on housing, while 15% said the biggest portion went to food.

The Federal Reserve, for the first time, asked about cryptocurrency in the survey. It found that 12% of Americans had held crypto in the past 12 months, but only 3% had used it in financial transactions. The Fed said 2% used it to make a payment, and 1% used crypto to send money to someone, Fed officials said.

Source : AP

A New Type of Charging Cable Could Charge Electric Cars in 5 minutes

Tim Levin wrote . . . . . . . . .

Ford and Purdue University are working on a new cable that they say could help electric cars charge up in about the amount of time it takes to fill up a gas tank.

The technology is still patent-pending and the prototype cord hasn’t been tested with an electric vehicle yet. But Purdue’s research is a promising step toward making clean, battery-powered cars as convenient as ones that run on polluting fossil fuels.

As it stands now, charging electric cars can be a slow and painful process. Charging times vary, but even the best cars under optimal conditions need to stay plugged in for around 30 minutes to slurp up enough electricity to take them from a low battery to nearly full. With a slower charger, it can take hours or days.

Understandably, this is too much to bear for some people accustomed to quick fill-ups in their gas-powered cars. But Purdue engineers funded by Ford say they’ve made a breakthrough that could slash charging times to five minutes or less.

They’ve done this by addressing one of the key challenges hindering charging speed: overheating. The faster current flows through a charging system, the hotter everything gets, from the battery to the charging cable.

Cooling things down can allow for higher currents and faster charging — and that’s exactly what Purdue has done. Researchers developed a cable that uses liquid-and-vapor cooling to accommodate a current of over 2,400 amps, almost five times that of today’s most advanced EV chargers. Tesla Superchargers, Purdue says, deliver up to 520 amps.

Only 1,400 amps are needed to bring charging times for large EVs down below five minutes, the researchers said.

But a cool charging cable is just one piece of the puzzle, and ultra-quick charging is still a ways away. For five-minute charging to become reality, we’ll need charging stations that can deliver more power and cars that can accept it.

Source : Business Insider

Read more at Purdue University

Electric vehicles could fully recharge in under 5 minutes with new charging station cable design . . . . .








Source : 国际日报

China Launches Drone Ship That Acts As A Mothership For More Drones

Joseph Trevithick and Oliver Parken wrote . . . . . . . . .

China has launched a huge ‘drone ship,’ ostensibly designed for marine research purposes. The vessel, which is claimed to feature an advanced artificial intelligence operating system that allows for at least semi-autonomous operation, could also be employed in military contexts as a hub for various unmanned weapons and surveillance systems.

News of the launch, which took place on May 18, came via the South China Morning Post. The vessel, named Zhu Hai Yun, has been widely reported as the world’s first unmanned drone ship based on coverage by the South China Morning Post. Although other examples of unmanned surface vessels, or USVs, have become fairly common in recent years, Zhu Hai Yun is said to boast a custom artificial intelligence (AI) operations system to support its function as a mothership to various unmanned platforms, including aerial drones and submersibles. These combined capabilities will render it a powerful ocean research tool according to a report from Science and Technology Daily – the official journal of China’s Ministry of Science and Technology – accessed by the South China Morning Post. Clearly, there could be major military applications for it, as well.

The ship constitutes a new “marine species” according to Chen Dake, director of the Southern Marine Science and Engineering Guangdong Laboratory (Zhuhai) of Sun Yat-sen University responsible for developing the ship’s AI system, branded the Intelligent Mobile Ocean Stereo Observing System (IMOSOS).

Quoted in Science and Technology Daily back in 2021, Chen stressed the revolutionary potential of the ship as the nerve center of an interconnected range of observational capabilities.

“The intelligent, unmanned ship…will bring revolutionary changes for ocean observation.”

Huangpu Wenchong Shipping Company, which built the ship, claims that when deployed, the vessel can undertake “three-dimensional dynamic observations” of specific target areas using unmanned aircraft, boats, and submersibles. Huangpu Wenchong is a subsidiary of China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC,) the country’s largest ship manufacturer.

Construction of the Zhu Hai Yun began in July of 2021 in Guangzhou, northwest of Hong Kong. The ship measures 290 feet long, 46 feet wide, and 20 feet deep. It features a wide deck, aiding its ability to carry various platforms. The ship can sail at a top speed of 18 knots, with a designed displacement of 2,000 tons.

It’s likely, as wider coverage on Zhu Hai Yun also indicates, that the ship may operate semi-autonomously. In order for it to navigate busy port areas, a crew would take control of the ship’s navigation system via remote control or by being physically present on board to at least monitor it during these complex navigational phases. In this sense, control of the vessel would be split between human operators and the autonomous AI system.

Following the completion of testing and sea trials, Zhu Hai Yun is expected to be delivered by the end of 2022.

The combination of the ship’s new AI system, plus its ability to carry various unmanned capabilities, renders it an important tool for marine observation according to Science and Technology Daily, with important capabilities for China’s marine conservation and disaster prevention. Yet Zhu Hai Yun’s AI and drone-carrying capabilities have the potential to perform secondary military functions, particularly in terms of searching for targets of interest and coordinating persistent observation of those targets.

Other Chinese firms have already begun developing unmanned surface vessels for security-specific missions. Yunzhou Tech, a leading developer of unmanned surface vehicles, revealed six high-speed unmanned vessels in late-2021, designed to “quickly intercept, besiege and expel” unspecified maritime intruders. Its “dynamic cooperative confrontation technology,” or “swarming” technology, allows drone ships to engage hostile targets in a coordinated manner without the need for manual control. Back in 2018, Yunzhou Tech undertook a collaborative demonstration of a huge 56-boat swarm of unmanned vessels for various conflict control and resolution tests. Zhu Hai Yun, or other vessels like it, could in theory coordinate these sorts of ship drone swarms.

Being able to gather “three-dimensional dynamic observations” would prove particularly significant for China’s Navy should it become involved in a conflict in the Pacific. As the report on the USS Connecticut accident underscores, highly accurate underwater navigation data is especially important for safe submarine operations under the waves. With accurate charts on the topography of the seabed readily available, thanks to a vessel such as Zhu Hai Yun, Chinese submarines would be able to improve mission planning and navigational flexibility.

In addition, the utility of a vessel such as Zhu Hai Yun would extend above the waves, too. Wide-area surveillance, with the possibility of geo-location sharing, would allow the Chinese Navy to seek out, as well as directly target, adversary vessels or other objects of interest within the vast expanse of the Pacific ocean via the employment of drones swarms or other weapons. These are capabilities that are likely to be critical in any future conflicts that China wages, including over the island of Taiwan. U.S. military wargaming around scenarios involving the defense of Taiwan in recent years has highlighted the immense value that drone swarms would offer the other side when used as distributed sensing networks, as you can read more about here.

The Chinese government has been investing significant resources into research and development of unmanned technology (to include swarming capabilities) and AI/machine learning, as of late. It has simultaneously worked on small drone swarming capabilities as well as platforms able to field aerial drones at sea. Just last year, it was revealed that China launched a catamaran mothership intended to field and recover fleets of small aerial drones, as well as issue electronic communication attacks on vessels for training and potential wartime use.

While the launch of Zhu Hai Yun has been reported as a triumph for Chinese marine research, particularly by state-run publications, this would not be the first time China has presented new maritime technology with secondary military functions as ‘ocean research.’ In 2017, for example, news emerged that Chinese plans to establish a network of underwater sensors, ostensibly for ‘environmental research,’ may have had anti-submarine warfare applications. Moreover, in 2020, The War Zone also reported that the state-run Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) use of ‘Sea Wing’ UUV may have been used for something more than environmental research.

At the same time, it is important to note that Zhu Hai Yun is only one ship. However, the experience gained in its development, construction, and eventual employment, regardless of how it is utilized, is all but certain to feed into other commercial and military work on unmanned surface vessels, autonomy, and other related technologies. This function as an experimental technology demonstrator, akin in some ways to the vessels tested as part of the U.S. military’s Ghost Fleet Overlord program, is likely to be just as important as whatever it might end up doing operationally.

Zhu Hai Yun clearly has huge potential for maritime defense – both in terms of fielding weapons, as well as obtaining critical surveillance. Whatever purpose the ship ends up serving in a military context, its launch underscores China’s recent efforts to dominate AI, particularly in terms of using it to address defense and national security concerns, as well as unmanned technologies.

Source : The Drive