All Aboard the U.K.'s First Hydrogen Train

HydroFlex signals a growing push for zero-emission rail technologies

3 min read
HydroFlex at a rail testing center in Warwickshire, England, in June 2019.
HydroFlex at a rail testing center in Warwickshire, England, in June 2019.
Gif: Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education/IEEE Spectrum

The United Kingdom’s first hydrogen fuel cell train rolled down the tracks this week, marking a milestone in the global push for greener transportation. Passengers climbed aboard the HydroFlex prototype as it ambled through the English countryside—without emitting any of the pollution that follows diesel locomotives.

HydroFlex is a joint initiative of the University of Birmingham’s Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE) and Porterbrook, the British railway company. The team demonstrated the four-car train at a rail testing center in Warwickshire, where rail aficionados gathered for an industry event. Researchers say they plan to test HydroFlex on the main U.K. railway network later this year, with funding from the Department of Transport.

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Chinese Joint Venture Will Begin Mass-Producing an Autonomous Electric Car

With the Robo-01, Baidu and Chinese carmaker Geely aim for a fully self-driving car

4 min read
A black car sits against a white backdrop decorated with Chinese writing. The car’s doors are open, like a butterfly’s wings. Two charging stations are on the car’s left; two men stand on the right.

The Robo-01 autonomous electric car shows off its butterfly doors at a reveal to the media in Beijing, in June 2022.

Tingshu Wang/Reuters/Alamy
Purple

In October, a startup called Jidu Automotive, backed by Chinese AI giant Baidu and Chinese carmaker Geely, officially released an autonomous electric car, the Robo-01 Lunar Edition. In 2023, the car will go on sale.

At roughly US $55,000, the Robo-01 Lunar Edition is a limited edition, cobranded with China’s Lunar Exploration Project. It has two lidars, a 5-millimeter-wave radars, 12 ultrasonic sensors, and 12 high-definition cameras. It is the first vehicle to offer on-board, AI-assisted voice recognition, with voice response speeds within 700 milliseconds, thanks to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8295 chip.

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