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Porsche Panamera
Quick, Clean Diesel: The Porsche Panamera comes in many tech-packed versions, but the diesel is really a standout.
Photo: Porsche

The original Panamera sedan, in 2009, dazzled everyone with its performance but drew brickbats for its Hunchback-of-Stuttgart styling. The 2017 edition looks like a proper Porsche while packing even more technology and performance under that sleeker skin.

ENGINE

410 kilowatts

0–97 km/h

3.7 seconds

MAX SPEED (DIESEL)

285 km/h

The new Panamera is the first of myriad models built on the VW Group’s clever MSB architecture, a modular layout that will allow many vehicles—including an upcoming Bentley Continental GT—to share power trains, steering, and much else, regardless of the size and shape of the car. A pair of twin-turbocharged engines includes a 2.9-liter V-6 and a 4.0-L V-8, the latter delivering a monstrous 410 kilowatts (550 horsepower), a 0-to-97-kilometer-per-hour (60-mile-per-hour) blast in 3.7 seconds, and a 305-km/h peak. Europeans will get a 4S Diesel model whose V-8 turbodiesel spools up 310 kW (418 hp) and a titanic 850 newton meters (627 foot-pounds) of torque. Porsche calls it the world’s fastest production diesel, combining a 285-km/h (177-mph) top speed with up to 900 miles of range on a single tank. That’s enough to go from Paris to Rome.

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Meta’s AI Takes an Unsupervised Step Forward

In the quest for human-level intelligent AI, Meta is betting on self-supervised learning

6 min read
A collection of 8 sets of images. In each, the left most image is partially obscured, yet recognizable as the blurry version (center) and the sharp version on the right.

Meta AI’s masked auto-encoder for computer vision was trained on images that were mostly obscured [left]. Yet its reconstructions [center] were remarkably close to the original images [right].

Meta

Meta’s chief AI scientist, Yann LeCun, doesn’t lose sight of his far-off goal, even when talking about concrete steps in the here and now. “We want to build intelligent machines that learn like animals and humans,” LeCun tells IEEE Spectrum in an interview.

Today’s concrete step is a series of papers from Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, on a type of self-supervised learning (SSL) for AI systems. SSL stands in contrast to supervised learning, in which an AI system learns from a labeled data set (the labels serve as the teacher who provides the correct answers when the AI system checks its work). LeCun has often spoken about his strong belief that SSL is a necessary prerequisite for AI systems that can build “world models” and can therefore begin to gain humanlike faculties such as reason, common sense, and the ability to transfer skills and knowledge from one context to another. The new papers show how a self-supervised system called a masked auto-encoder (MAE) learned to reconstruct images, video, and even audio from very patchy and incomplete data. While MAEs are not a new idea, Meta has extended the work to new domains.

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Landsat Proved the Power of Remote Sensing

The Earth-imaging satellites have amassed a half-century of data on crops, borders, and war zones

6 min read
A satellite image shows vegetation in red tones and urban and rocky areas in grays and whites.

The first image captured on 25 July 1972 by the first Landsat satellite shows the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Robert Simmon/USGS/NASA

On 18 September 1969, U.S. President Richard Nixon addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations. It was a difficult time in global politics, and much of his speech focused on the war in Vietnam, disputes in the Middle East, and strategic arms control. Toward the end, though, the speech took a curious and hopeful turn, as Nixon rhapsodized about the unifying potential of international cooperation in space exploration. As an example, he noted the United States was in the process of developing new satellites to survey Earth’s natural resources.

Three years later, on 23 July 1972, NASA launched what would be the first Earth Resources Technology Satellite (ERTS). It gave scientists, land managers, policymakers, and others an unprecedented view of their planet. The program has since launched eight more satellites. Renamed the Landsat program in 1975, it is now celebrating its 50th anniversary of imaging the Earth.

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Electromagnetic Simulations in Automotive Industry

Learn how an electromagnetic simulator can be applied to various scenarios in the automotive industry

1 min read
WIPL-D Logo
WIPL-D

This whitepaper shows several examples of how WIPL-D electromagnetic simulator can be applied to various scenarios in the automotive industry: a radar antenna mounted on a car bumper operating at 24 GHz, 40 GHz, and 77 GHz, an EM obstacle detection at 77 GHz, and vehicle-to-vehicle communication at 5.9 GHz. Download this free whitepaper now!