The December 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

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Winter Reading Tips

You can spend more than one cozy evening in front of the fire with some good articles about prospects for U.S. high-speed trains, the nuclear industry, lithium-powered cars, and carbon trading

2 min read

If you found yourself wondering during President Obama's State of the Union speech last week why he thinks the United States is ready to speedily build some high-speed rail infrastructure, you'll want to consult the nicely illustrated feature in the February issue of Wired magazine--and for some news updates, you might search our blog posts as well. But note: while text to the Wired feature is accessible online, to get full benefit of the excellent graphics you'll want to look at the magazine itself.

To judge from communications from organizations representing the left-liberal flank of Obama's constituency, nothing in his speech went down worse than his call for more nuclear energy. If you're seriously interested in nuclear prospects you'll want to have a look at the fall issue of Daedalus, the high-brow journal of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Two of the contributors to that report--Richard A. Meserve, the physicist-lawyer who served as head of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and John W. Rowe, chairman and CEO of Exelon--also are serving on a blue-ribbon panel that Obama has set up to review nuclear waste disposal options. In the budget request due out this week, Obama is expected to ask for a tripling of Federal loan guarantees for nuclear construction, consistent with Energy Secretary Chu's complaints that current guarantees are not ample enough to jump-start a nuclear revival.

Obama claimed he's still determined to get a carbon cap-and-trade bill through Congress, though skeptics are beginning to wonder about how seriously he means that. For a withering critique of offsets trading, take a look at Mark Shapiro's article in the current issue of Harper's, though you have to be a subscriber or buy the magazine to see the whole thing. For Spectrum's take, the online feature by Melissa Checker is still worth a look too.

Spectrum contributor Peter Fairley  was quick to recognize how key Boliveia will be in supplying lithium for the batteries expected to power hybrid and electric cars. As it happens the current issue of Technology Review has a stunning photo essay on what Bolivia's nascent lithium industry looks like. There too there's no substitute for the magazine itself.

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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

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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