The Mighty Arduino Uno

The MIghty Arduino

I finally got around to getting serious with my Arduino. It's a cheap little computer that can be made to behave as a Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) and literally control machinery. I bought the machine in June of 2016 and finally got a couple teens interested in working with me on it. See: http://www.tourguizhou.com/technology-arduino-unboxing/ . The kids are in the 14 to 16 range, really an "at risk" age. This is a "traffic light" application which is a beginner introduction to programming in C++. I am hoping to

Stop Light Coding

create a curriculum or some kind of club that promotes technology. If that doesn't happen, no problem.  Screwing around with these cute little computers is a very good way to spend time with kids. In about two hours, only one kid looked at his cell phone, one time.  Wow. This application created a stop light scenario where the program turned the red, yellow, and green lights on at appropriate times, as if it were a real traffic light.  Right now we are at the beginning, with plug and chug operations. We did teach input/output, circuits, positive/negative, and some other electronics. It is very cool.  

Guiyang Tech Village

The Autonomous Vehicle (“AV” or Automated Vehicle) technology is the next big thing in technology. The Big Data Valley initiative of Guiyang can jump start the creation and nurturing of a technology Village (Guiyang Tech Village) in Guiyang. The Big Data initiative has already started this process, but there is still a need for focus of the resources being created by the the Big Data initiative. AV technology requires a combination of two of the “Big Three” technology initiatives in the world, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotics (Biotech is the third). China and the USA are similar in that about 2/3 of GDP is consumer driven. Housing is the #1 consumer purchase, and cars are #2.  The market for auto enhancements, such as AV, is massive.

These concepts are developed elsewhere on this site, but the implementation of AI and Robotics in Guiyang can use the AV technology framework. Sensors, machine learning, actuators, and decision making are all required when a car, truck, or bus is driven by a human. The AV research, the testing, and application of that research provides a concrete focus for so many of these advanced research subjects. An AV initiative in Guiyang has the potential of attracting top talent to Guiyang companies and universities.

Technology people can usually choose where they want to live, but the technology village concept multiplies the productivity of individuals. Guiyang already has the quality of life that is attractive to the young techies. See: Guiyang Top City The AV provides a focus for those techies.

The implementation plan is specific. Develop and test AV technology using existing Guiyang buses and drivers:

  1. Automate bus maneuvering and parking in the North Guiyang Train Station (Beizhan Gaotia).
  2. Retrofit existing BRT buses with sensors, actuators, and computers with cloud communication.
  3. Connect the BRT buses to the Guiyang Big Data infrastructure and then begin building and learning.
  4. Retain existing bus drivers to monitor effectiveness of the developing technologies and provide tertiary manual override in event of technology failures of primary and secondary automation. Also, presence of drivers on the buses is important for customers to feel safe.
  5. Initially it is essential to get “cheaters” under control in the dedicated BRT lane of the #2 Ring Road. Connect the BRT cameras to software that can identify people who break the rules against using the dedicated BRT bus lane for cars. Progressively heavy fines should be used to keep private drivers clear of the bus lane. Fine revenue can also be used to help finance AV research.
  6. When the “bugs” are out of the BRT automated vehicle control system, wealthy drivers should be permitted to retrofit their vehicles with AV equipment. This will allow them to return  to the dedicated bus lane for high speed travel around Guiyang, taking advantage of both the dedicated bus lane and the Big Data controlled transport system.
  7. While Guiyang is one of the most densely populated cities in the world, with five million people stacked together on the plateau, wealthy drivers could take advantage of early AV technology to maneuver the city. After using AV on the BRT dedicated lane, they can gradually expand their range of operation to go to and from common destinations, like home and work, etc.
  8. As prices of AV equipment fall, more and more Guiyang people will be able to afford to enter the automated vehicle system as it gradually expands from the #2 Ring Road into the general streets and alleys of Guiyang.
  9. Companies that cooperate with Guiyang early in development of AV technology will be leaders in the AV industry as it expands.
  10. Guiyang will grow a world class technology community, the Guiyang Tech Village.

See the following links for background:

About Guiyang, Guizhou, and www.TourGuizhou.com
2017 Big Data Expo
Big Data and AV in Guiyang
2017 Expo Announcement
Technical Background

Guizhou is in the News of the Christian Science Monitor

This is an interesting article about  how Guizhou is in the News of the Christian Science Monitor.  Here is the link:

https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Asia-Pacific/2017/0622/Poverty-free-China-by-2020-Beijing-says-it-s-possible-but-steepest-climb-ahead

So this is a good story about China pulling itself up with public and private partnerships. The government is selling piglets to people in poverty at attractive prices.  It is a way for people improve their living conditions. I heard a disturbing story about a government program similar to this, where the people who hardly have enough to eat get livestock at attractive prices. So they are actually poorer because they have to feed the pigs in addition to themselves. Then when the pig grows up, it can’t be sold because all the neighbors did the same thing and everybody already has their own pigs. So they slaughter the pigs and eat them. Unfortunately, they can’t eat all the meat right away and have to buy refrigerators . . .

Well this is just one scenario. What we do know is that China has made massive strides in alleviating poverty in the last  30 years and it isn’t resting on it’s laurels. I don’t know if this is a good program or not. We have to wait and see. It is kind of good to see an active government trying to help the people. Let them learn by their experience (mistakes/successes). I can’t criticize.

Where’s Poppy?

Years ago I got hooked on China and eventually started this blog . . . I love this girl’s take on Shenzhen. She reminds me of what was like when I first came to China, about 17 years ago. Where’s Poppy is the real deal. She is pretty and pretty casual. You really get a feeling about why expats come to China and decide to stay for awhile. She talks fast, so if you are like really old, you probably should have a cup of coffee before you watch these videos. See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sxJ9TBMoAL4 and  https://youtu.be/OuiAsTwq6x8 .

2017 Big Data Expo

A racing car simulator. The screen had a race course.

The 2017 Big Data Expo was a bit of everything in technology and was heavy on digital imaging (healthcare related), major database systems (Finance related) ,  and VR (Virtual Reality). It seemed a bit light on robotics and motion control, which is a key component of AV (Automated Vehicles). The Alibaba AV was on display in it’s Big Data Expo booth, but without promotional information, at least in English. The car looked like a regular car and just sat there. On Sunday, the staff was unavailable to answer questions about it. The 2017 Big Data Expo was a big hit.

 

On Sunday, the last day, there was a big line.  It was boring outside in the line. Sitting on Daddy’s shoulders made it a bit more tolerable.

There were a variety of classes and seminars on technical topics of interest.

Virtual Reality (VR) children were playing with their preferred laser guns.

 

The exhibits and exhibitors improved significantly over the prior two Expos, which I attended. The government owned businesses were not so prominent, and booths were smaller. The visuals were extraordinary. Computer generated graphics were at their best in this conference and the English materials were generally very good, in contrast to last year. The content was much richer, even though the booths were smaller.

One wall was dedicated to the Exhibitor Logos . . . a who’s who of technology.

The 2017 Big Data Expo had a distinctly international flavor, with many of the world corporations represented.

Participating companies are prominent in both China and the world tech industries. Many have corporate offices in Guiyang. One of the Expo sponsors, Guiyang Truck Alliance Company is a logistics company coordinating China truck deliveries. It has corporate headquarters in Guiyang, and is the “leading  internet plus logistics information platform in China”. This demonstrates the commitment of China to the Guiyang based “Big Data Valley”. World corporations represented at the 2017 Big Data Expo include Tencent, Oracle, Foxconn, Qualcomm, Dell, JD.com, Huawei, and Alibaba.It is noteworthy that the term “Guiyang” was dropped from this year’s Expo title. The Expo is simply “2017 Big Data Expo”.  It reflects a focus of China on Guiyang as the center of “Big Data” activity.  Last year China supported several “Big Data” branded conferences, but this year it seems that Guiyang is the the only one. It is the prominent “Big Data” host. This bodes well for Guiyang based data companies.

The 2017 Big Data Expo   catalogue .

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Big Data and Automated Vehicles in Guiyang

Automated Vehicle Technology in Guiyang

The City of Guiyang has, knowingly or not, positioned itself perfectly for entry into the Automated Vehicle market. Through the creation of the BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) system connected to a State of the Art bullet train station, a publicly controlled space which can control all vehicles entering and leaving the system has been created.

The train station (Beizhan) is a multimodal transport system with cars, buses, bullet trains, and even express busses to the airport. The BRT utilizes a dedicated bus lane which is one of three traffic lanes on the Number 2 Ring Road (#2RR) which circles Guiyang through proximate suburban developments. While operating at a relatively slow speed, the BRT has reduced cross-town transit times by approximately two thirds or more, depending on traffic. There are no stop lights on the #2RR and the dedicated lane greatly reduces the traffic jams to which buses are subjected along with private vehicles. The system operates with a high degree of efficiency despite “cheaters” who are drivers that are willing to accept a large number of traffic tickets for using the bus lane for their private vehicles.

AV market has exploded in western countries, particularly Europe and the USA, with increasing interest from China and the East.  With all the money and interest, widespread use of AV has been stymied to a degree by the insecurity of the public to share the road with driverless cars. While technical issues remain, the biggest obstacle to AV isn’t technical, but rather political and social. Governments are simply not willing to subject their constituencies to the perceived risk of driverless cars. Computer controlled vehicles sharing public roads private vehicles (with occasionally irrational or careless drivers) is deemed unacceptable to all parties. Nevertheless, Elon Musk, of Tesla and SpaceX fame has suggested that the safety record of computer controlled cars will display about 10 percent of the accidents of human controlled. Tesla claims that a driverless care will travel from California to New York within the year (2017).

Even more interesting, the Guiyang Big Data Expo is May 25 to May 28. Big Data is the next big thing in computer technology. The auto industry represents the second biggest consumer expenditure in the world (housing being the first).  The AV technology requires more research and a good location to perfect this technology. It is a data intensive application in the world’s second biggest consumer industry. This Big Data Conference could be a “breakout” for Guiyang and the AV Industry.

The Beizhan “multimodal” Train Station has a controlled bus maneuvering area connected to a controlled ring road around Guiyang. It is an ideal physical and political environment for development of Automated Vehicles, one of the biggest Big Data applications on the horizon. This will be an interesting conference.

See: http://www.tourguizhou.com/guiyang-automated-vehicle-project/