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Industry Disruption Acceleration: Hong Kong Startup to Launch DIY Four-Seat Car

 

DIY-car-HK

The OSVehicle can be built in little over an hour from parts shipped in flatpacks from Italy and China

The car industry is tormented by how new rivals are coming in and upending the existing ways of doing business — whether that’s TeslaGoogle or Apple.

One Hong Kong-based start-up wants to help accelerate the disruption.

OSVehicle will on Tuesday launch its latest “do-it-yourself car” — an electric four-seater that it says can be built in little over an hour from parts shipped in flatpacks from Italy and China.

“It lowers the barriers to entry for start-ups and entrepreneurs who want to create vehicles in a whole new segment of the industry.”

— Carlo De Micheli, head of innovation at OSVehicle

The kit is aimed at companies that want to sell electric vehicles or run car sharing schemes, with would-be carmakers buying a platform from OSVehicle rather than a complete product.

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“Companies that are entering this market are focusing on specific technologies, such as self-driving or high power electric vehicles. We are eager to see all the open source components that come out of their research…adopted by other companies worldwide.”

— Carlo De Micheli

They order the chassis, electric power-train, suspension, steering system and wheels from OSVehicle. Customers then create the bodywork to their own design.

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“They order the chassis, electric power-train, suspension, steering system and wheels from OSVehicle. Customers then create the bodywork to their own design.”

“It lowers the barriers to entry for start-ups and entrepreneurs who want to create vehicles in a whole new segment of the industry,” said Carlo De Micheli, head of innovation at OSVehicle.

The kit car platform is based on another by OSVehicle that is a two-seater called Tabby.

The company has yet to decide on the price of the four-seater platform. The two-seater iteration of its Tabby platform retailed at $4,000, excluding the lithium-based battery pack.

The “OS” in OSVehicle stands for open source and the company is part of a growing trend of transparent innovation in the industry. Read the rest of this entry »

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James R. Hagerty: Meet the New Generation of Robots for Manufacturing

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They are nimbler, lighter and work better with humans. They might even help bring manufacturing back to the U.S.

James R. Hagerty writes: A new generation of robots is on the way—smarter, more mobile, more collaborative and more adaptable. They promise to bring major changes to the factory floor, as well as potentially to the global competitive landscape.

Robots deployed in manufacturing today tend to be large, dangerous to anyone who strays too close to their whirling arms, and limited to one task, like welding, painting or hoisting heavy parts.

“Robots are going to change the economic calculus for manufacturing. People will spend less time chasing low-cost labor.”

— Hal Sirkin, a Chicago-based senior partner of Boston Consulting Group

The latest models entering factories and being developed in labs are a different breed. They can work alongside humans without endangering them and help assemble all sorts of objects, as large as aircraft engines and as small and delicate as smartphones. Soon, some should be easy enough to program and deploy that they no longer will need expert overseers.

“Researchers hope robots will become so easy to set up and move around that they can reduce the need for companies to make heavy investments in tools and structures that are bolted to the floor.”

That will change not only the way an increasing number of products are made. It could also mean an upheaval in the competition between companies and nations. As robots become less costly and more accessible, they should help smaller manufacturers go toe to toe with giants. By reducing labor costs, they also may allow the U.S. and other high-wage countries to get back into some of the processes that have been ceded to China, Mexico and other countries with vast armies of lower-paid workers.

“That would allow manufacturers to make shorter runs of niche or custom products without having to spend lots of time and money reconfiguring factories.”

Some of the latest robots are designed specifically for the tricky job of assembling consumer-electronics items, now mostly done by hand in Asia. At least one company promises its robots eventually will be sewing garments in the U.S., taking over one of the ultimate sweatshop tasks.

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“Robots are going to change the economic calculus for manufacturing,” says Hal Sirkin, a Chicago-based senior partner of Boston Consulting Group. “People will spend less time chasing low-cost labor.”

The changing face

Today, industrial robots are most common in auto plants—which have long been the biggest users of robot technology—and they do jobs that don’t take much delicacy: heavy lifting, welding, applying glue and painting. People still do most of the final assembly of cars, especially when it involves small parts or wiring that needs to be guided into place.

[Read the full text here, at WSJ]

Now robots are taking on some jobs that require more agility. At a Renault SA plant in Cleon, France, robots made by Universal Robots AS of Denmark drive screws into engines, especially those that go into places people find hard to get at. The robots employ a reach of more than 50 inches and six rotating joints to do the work. They also verify that parts are properly fastened and check to make sure the correct part is being used.

At a Renault car plant, robots drive screws into engines—a sign of their progress in handling small parts. Photo: Renault

At a Renault car plant, robots drive screws into engines—a sign of their progress in handling small parts. Photo: Renault

The Renault effort demonstrates a couple of trends that are drastically changing how robots are made. For one, they’re getting much lighter. The Renault units weigh only about 64 pounds, so “we can easily remove them and reinstall them in another place,” says Dominique Graille, a manager at Renault, which is using 15 robots from Universal now and plans to double that by year-end. Read the rest of this entry »


Want Your City State to Become a Capitalist Success Story? Ban Spitting

Photo dated 19 December 1984 shows senior Chinese

It may be hard to measure just how much Singapore’s famed spitting crackdown helped – but it certainly didn’t hurt.

The governing philosophy of Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew contained multitudes: a belief in the enriching power of the free market; a development agenda implemented by a strong central government at the expense of personal freedoms. Alongside these well-known themes, however, there was also this: absolutely never, under any circumstances, would there be public spitting in the Lion City.

“Many of the biggest admirers of Singapore’s rise have since followed in its footsteps and stepped up anti-spitting measures. In 2003, in the wake of the regional SARS outbreak, Hong Kong announced a “no-tolerance” policy, tripling the penalty for spitting to $300.”

In Singapore, anyone caught expectorating can be hit with a hefty fine of up to $1,000 and $5,000 for repeat offenders. That law is part of a raft of legislation that Lee put in place — on gum chewing, bird feeding, and flushing public toilets — that 51z84gsE3EL._SL250_reached deep into citizens’ daily lives and that remain a part of Singapore’s legal code today.

[Order Lee Kuan Yew’s book “From Third World to First: The Singapore Story – 1965-2000” from Amazon.com]

Lee’s strictures on spitting were designed to curb a habit fairly thoroughly ingrained in traditional Chinese culture. Here, for example, Deng Xiaoping meets with Margaret Thatcher with a spittoon in the foreground. The Chinese reformer was a lifelong spitter.

In the West, Singapore’s laws on personal behavior are seen as quirky eccentricities at best (that happen to be great listicle fodder: “If You Think the Soda Ban Is Bad, Check Out all the Things That Are Illegal In Singapore”) and the mark of an invasive nanny state at worst. These laws, however, are rarely considered as a component of Singapore’s much admired economic growth – but maybe they should be.

“The Shenzhen ban comes at a time when the politics of spitting as a dividing line between the ‘civilized’ and ‘uncivilized’ world have grown increasingly fraught, given the growing clout of mainland China, a country of rampant spitters.”

Spitting has long been against the law in Singapore, a vestige from the days when, as the New York Times put it in 2003, “British colonialists tried in vain to quell what the port’s Chinese immigrants once considered as natural as breathing.” The city-state didn’t begin enforcing laws on the behavior until 1984. But when Singapore did decide to crack down, it meant it: The government fined 128 people for spitting that first year and another 139 in 1985. Read the rest of this entry »


[PHOTOS] These Spiders Look Like They’re Covered In Mirrors

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This isn’t a stained-glass sculpture or piece of delicate jewelry – it’s a real live spider. These spiders, called mirror or sequined spiders, are all members of several different species of the thwaitesia genus, which features spiders with reflective silvery patches on their abdomen.

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The scales look like solid pieces of mirror glued to the spider’s back, but they can actually change size depending on how threatened the spider feels. The reflective scales are composed of reflective guanine, which these and other spiders use to give themselves color.

Not much information is available about these wonderful spiders, but the dazzling specimens in these photos were photographed primarily in Australia and Singapore…(read more)

Bored Panda


Study: China is Growing Less and Less Enamored with Social Media


‘Hookers, Suckling Pigs, Cuban Cigars’: Contractor Admits to Bribing Navy Officials

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A defense contractor who is the central figure in a wide-ranging Navy bribery scandal pleaded guilty on Thursday to providing cash, prostitutes, free hotel rooms and gifts worth millions of dollars to gain maintenance and supply contracts in Asian ports that overbilled the Navy by $20 million.

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[See also – ‘Massive’ Navy Bribery, Hooker Scandal Grows: Third Officer Charged]

In a federal court in San Diego, Leonard Francis, known by his nickname “Fat Leonard,” pleaded guilty to bribery and fraud charges related to a decade-long conspiracy to gain the contracts that he said involved “scores” of U.S. Navy officials. Francis was the CEO of Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA) a Singapore-based company that provided fuel, supplies, tugboats and sewage disposal to U.S. Navy ships when they woman-cigararrived in ports.

“Francis admitted that he gave millions of dollars in extravagant gifts and expenses to Navy officials including $500,000 in cash; hundreds of thousands of dollars in prostitution services; travel expenses, including first class airfare, luxurious hotel stays and spa treatments.”

Leonard gave the Navy officials lavish gifts to gain classified information about the scheduled movement of U.S. Navy ships in Asia so he could block out competitors and then overbill the Navy for his company’s services, prosecutors said.

“He also provided officials with lavish meals, including Kobe beef, Spanish suckling pigs, Cuban cigars, designer handbags and even tickets to a Lady Gaga concert.”

Francis admitted that he gave millions of dollars in extravagant gifts and expenses to Navy officials including $500,000 in cash; hundreds of thousands of dollars in prostitution services; travel expenses, including first class airfare, luxurious hotel stays and spa treatments. He also provided officials with lavish meals, including Kobe beef, Spanish suckling pigs, Cuban cigars, designer handbags and even tickets to a Lady Gaga concert.

U.S. Attorney Laura E Duffy

U.S. Attorney Laura E Duffy

“It is astounding that Leonard Francis was able to purchase the integrity of Navy officials by offering them meaningless material possessions and the satisfaction of selfish indulgences. In sacrificing their honor, these officers helped Francis defraud their country out of tens of millions of dollars. Now they will be held to account.”

—  U.S. Attorney Laura E Duffy

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When sentenced in April Francis could face up to 25 years in prison. In admitting his guilt he and his company agreed to repay the Navy $35 million. He has been cooperating with investigators and additional Naval officials may be implicated.

BRIBERY

So far the investigation has involved eight Navy officials, including a Naval Criminal Services Investigative Services (NCIS) agent who would tip Francis off to ongoing investigations into his conduct.

Read the rest of this entry »


Want to Be a Millionaire? Move to Hong Kong

A luxury car parks at an old district area in Hong Kong Wednesday Jan. 15, 2014. Associated Press

A luxury car parks at an old district area in Hong Kong Wednesday Jan. 15, 2014. Associated Press

For China Real Time ReportJason Chow writes: Hong Kong mints millionaires faster than any of the world’s other top 25 economic powerhouses, according to a new survey on the rich by Capgemini and RBC Wealth Management.

“Hong Kong is a particularly fertile place for millionaires.”

Tis the season of wealth reports – the new 2014 World Wealth Report is the second global survey of the world’s rich in as many weeks (Boston Consulting Group released its wealth tome last week). And again, the latest survey confirmed an obvious outcome of Asia’s economic boom: The region is home to more millionaires than ever.

“The city’s booming real-estate market, along with its ties to China, were cited as reasons for the huge surge in the wealthy ranks.”

But the Capgemini/RBC report says Hong Kong is a particularly fertile place for millionaires. In the past five years, the total number of high-net-worth individuals—those with more than US$1 million in investable assets, not including primary residence, collectibles or consumer goods—grew at an annual rate of 27%.

That growth rate of wealthy individuals is by far the fastest, above the global 10% average and far higher than the growth rates for Singapore and China, which sat around 12% and 16%, respectively. Read the rest of this entry »


Press Freedom Under Attack in Hong Kong

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Protest for press freedom in Hong Kong. March 2014.

Kevin Lau, former editor of the local Chinese-language daily Ming Pao in Hong Kongwas brutally attacked with a knife and suffered serious wounds on February 26, 2014.

This was the latest of hardships that Mr. Lau had to endure in Hong Kong, a city increasingly hostile towards the press.  In January he had been ousted from his position as Editor in Chief at the newspaper Ming Pao, sparking enough outrage that 90% of the editorial staff at Ming Pao signed a petition demanding that the company state its reasons for dismissing Kevin Lau. Many speculated that it was his critical reporting of the Hong Kong government that was the reason for his removal as Editor in Chief.

Under Lau’s leadership, Ming Pao was critical of numerous government policies and pushed for democratic reforms in Hong Kong. The newspaper also exposed several political scandals, embarrassing political leaders in the city.

Read the rest of this entry »


HACKED: Anonymous Targets Singapore with Cyber Attack Over Censorship

Protesters from the Anonymous India group of hackers wear Guy Fawkes masks as they protest against laws they say gives the government control over censorship of internet usage in Mumbai

David Stout reports:  A hacktivist claiming to be affiliated with the notorious international hacker outfit Anonymous successfully infiltrated a pro-government’s newspaper website in Singapore on Friday to protest an Internet licensing framework for news websites on the island nation.

According to a report by AFP, a hacker under the nom de guerre Messiah managed to break into a journalist’s blog at the Straits Times, where they expressed both disdain for the new ruling and called on the journalist to apologize “to the citizens of Singapore for trying to mislead them.”

Read the rest of this entry »


Singapore’s Scoot Airlines to Offer Child-Free Zone

Children under 12 will be banned from Scoot Airlines' kid-free zone Getty Images/Flickr RF

                                                                                      Getty Images/Flickr RF

Wish your air travel came with a little less crying and kicking? Scoot Airlines is looking to make certain adults’ dream come true.

The Singaporean budget carrier is now offering a child-free zone, dubbed the ”ScootinSilence” area, in which kids under 12 will not be allowed to sit. While the silence zone only lasts for five rows,  numbers 21 to 25, it should provide some assurance to travelers who bristle at the prospect of being seated directly behind, in front of, or, worst of all, next to a noisy child.

Not surprisingly, mile-high peace and quiet isn’t free of charge. Scoot is providing the ScootinSilence area as a $14 upgrade, so you’ll have to have to ask yourself whether a one time no-baby guarantee is worth the price of a pre-flight meal, or simply a reusable pair of earplugs.

Read the rest of this entry »


Red Bull Heir Faces Thai Arrest

Vorayuth Yoovidhya (R) being taken by a plain-clothes policeman in Bangkok (3 Sept 2012)
Vorayuth Yoovidhya was detained after police traced petrol to the family home

Thai authorities will seek to arrest a grandson of Red Bull’s billionaire, co-creator Chaleo Yoovidhaya, after he failed to appear at a court hearing.

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For the first time, the combined GDP of poor nations is greater than the rich ones

For the first time ever, the combined gross domestic product of emerging and developing markets, adjusted for purchasing price parity, has eclipsed the combined measure of advanced economies. Purchasing price parity—or PPP for short—adjusts for the relative cost of comparable goods in different economic markets.

According to the International Monetary Fund—the supplier of this data—emerging and developing economies will have a purchasing price parity-adjusted GDP of $42.8 trillion in 2013, while that of emerging economies will be $44.4 trillion. In other words, emerging markets will create $1.6 trillion more value in goods and services than advanced markets this year.

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