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Despite years of speculation about an Apple Car, we still have little hard information about Apple’s plans.When did the rumors begin?
The first reports date back to early 2024, when a camera-festooned car was shown to be leased to Apple. While some believed this was for Apple Maps, others suggested it looked more like a test-bed for a self-driving car. Shortly afterwards, Apple was found to be poaching Tesla engineers., and we uncovered a significant number of senior automotive hires.What is Apple up to?
This is the $64,000 question. We know for sure that Apple is very actively exploring some kind of move into the automotive sector, but it’s still not 100% clear that the company plans to go as far as launching a car, which consumers will be able to buy.
Apple has said only that the area is of interest to the company.
We’ve seen three main possibilities suggested:Some kind of car technology, but not a car
The first suggestion is that Apple wants to create some kind of car tech, but not go as far as actually making a car. Some believe Apple’s primary interest is in the in-car experience as the world transitions to self-driving cars – a kind of CarPlay on steroids, if you will. Others believe there is enough evidence that Apple is working on self-driving technology, but that it will license this to other companies, rather than make its own car.Ride-sharing cars
The second possibility is that Apple plans to make cars, but not for retail sale. One obvious market for autonomous cars is ride sharing, so it’s possible that Apple plans to make a self-driving car for a ride-sharing service, but we wouldn’t be able to buy one.A car for retail sale
The third option, of course, is a full-on car that consumers can lease or buy outright. It’s this possibility which has understandably lead to the greatest amount of debate and excitement.Who would make it?
Assuming Apple does plan to actually make a car, it would partner with a manufacturing company to actually produce the vehicles. Here there are two possible routes the company could take.Partner with an established brand
Apple has been reported to have discussed a possible partnership with a wide range of established carmakers. These include Hyundai/Kia, Nissan, BMW, and Canoo.
The Hyundai/Kia idea was once presented as if it were almost a done deal, before later being dismissed – though there remains some minor partnership talk.
The big stumbling block here appears to be branding. Existing car brands would be reluctant to be relegated to the role of a contract manufacturer, where Apple makes all the decisions and the car has only Apple branding.Use a contract manufacturer
The other, perhaps more likely, possibility is that Apple commissions a contract manufacturer to build the cars, just as it uses companies like Foxconn and Pegatron to make iPhones and other Apple products.
Foxconn is known to be working on electric car production, but likely working more at the lower end of the market. The company did buy a US EV factory, but almost certainly not for Apple cars. Magna is one of the best-known contract manufacturers able to build models for premium brands, and so appears a likely contender.What have existing car makers said?
Unsurprisingly, almost all are claiming not to be worried. For example, BMW’s CFO says he “sleeps peacefully” while VW says the company isn’t afraid. Toyota thinks Apple doesn’t understand that you have to be ready to provide 40 years of after-sales support for a car, where Apple tends to discontinue support five to seven years after it ceases to sell a particular model.
In reality, of course, any premium brand car maker has to be sweating right now. Tesla is the only car company to openly admit that Apple will pose extremely tough competition.When would an Apple Car be launched?
This too is one of the Big Questions. In 2024, some suggested an Apple Car might go on sale as early as 2023, which of course didn’t happen. A variety of other dates have been suggested, from 2024 through 2026 to 2028 or beyond.
With no deal apparently yet struck, and no leaks of anything specific, it is certainly clear that Apple is nowhere close to a launch anytime soon.
Concept image: CarWow
You're reading Apple Car: What We Know, What We Don’T Know
Nick Fernandez / Android Authority
Update, June 15, 2023 (10:58 AM ET): We have updated this iPad Mini (7th generation) rumor hub with information from Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.
Original article: Larger tablets are great, but they aren’t for everyone. Some of us prefer a smaller pad that can be easily carried but offers more screen real estate than the typical smartphone. While some good small Android tablets are out there, none are quite as convincing as Apple’s iPad Mini series. The next one we expect to see from the Cupertino giant is the iPad Mini (7th generation).
The latest iteration is the 6th generation iPad Mini. It is designed beautifully, has excellent performance, solid battery life, and you can add 5G connectivity. What could improve it, and what can we expect from the new iPad Mini? In this roundup, we’ll be gathering all the rumors and leaks, as well as our expectations on what the iPad Mini 7 could bring to the table. Let’s dig into what we know and what we want to see.What is the iPad Mini (7th generation) release date?
iPad Mini 1st generation: October 2012
iPad Mini 2nd generation: October 2013
iPad Mini 3rd generation: October 2014
iPad Mini 4th generation: September 2024
iPad Mini 5th generation: March 2023
iPad Mini 6th generation: September 2023
You’ll quickly notice that most iPad Mini iterations were announced around October or September. The only exception was the iPad Mini (5th generation), which saw a March announcement. All iPad Minis were then released soon after their announcements. Usually, the same day, or some days after.
Anjie Technology will be the new beneficiary of the all-new design foldable iPad. There may be no new iPad releases in the next 9-12 months as the iPad mini refresh is more likely to begin mass production in 1Q24.
What features and specs will the iPad Mini (7th generation) have?
Nick Fernandez / Android Authority
We haven’t seen many iPad Mini (7th generation) leaks just yet, but the few around give us a good look at what could be coming. We can also make some assumptions about what could be coming.
Nick Fernandez / Android Authority
The current iPad Mini follows the same design that kicked off with the iPhone 12 and has continued through the iPhone 13 and iPhone 14 series. Apple seems fond of this design language with squared edges and a streamlined body. This was a significant change in the current iPad Mini, so we expect the design to be more or less similar. Nothing is official yet, though, but Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman claims that Apple won’t do another major overhaul of the product.
We also expect the display size to stick to 8.3 inches. And since the iPad Mini (6th gen) already uses USB-C, and Apple is being forced to move away from Lightning, we assume the new iPad Mini (7th gen) will also stick to USB-C.
A better display would be nice
Nick Fernandez / Android Authority
The iPad Mini (6th generation) Liquid Retina IPS LCD display is pretty good, but it could be better. We’re happy with the 1,488 x 2,266 resolution and 327ppi density, but one of the main complaints in our review was that it only had a 60Hz refresh rate. The current standard for higher-end products is 120Hz.
A 120Hz panel might happen for the next iPad Mini. Popular tech Twitter user @FromTron shared a Korean forum post in late 2023, in which it was rumored that Samsung Display shipped an 8.3-inch screen with a 120Hz refresh rate for testing. Current Apple devices with 120Hz refresh rates label this feature as “ProMotion.”What will the iPad Mini (7th generation) price be?
Rumors and leaks are too few right now, and we haven’t heard anything half-convincing about the upcoming iPad Mini’s pricing. The iPad Mini already saw a $100 price increase with the 6th generation upgrade, though. It starts at $499, whereas the 5th generation iPad Mini was $399.
Given that we’re expecting a less drastic upgrade in the iPad Mini (7th generation), we can expect pricing to stay identical, or very similar to the current $499 MSRP.
Ryan Haines / Android Authority
In our iPad Mini (6th generation) review we mention that the included 20W charger doesn’t do much to juice up the device quickly. It took us about half an hour to reach from 10% to 50%, but going from 10% to 100% extended that time to about 90 minutes.
We know Apple has never been at the forefront of fast charging, but a boost sure would be nice. Since this device is actually pretty small, maybe even wireless charging would be a welcome addition.
Other smaller upgrades
Nick Fernandez / Android Authority
Apple is likely to bring incremental upgrades throughout the iPad Mini experience. We might see improved cameras, more base storage, an upgrade to Wi-Fi 6E, and more. Of course, these are just assumptions, though. We will update this article with more spec details as they emerge.
Apple Car Project Titan
Recently, Reuters quoted sources as reporting that the Apple Car plan is still ongoing, and Apple aims to start mass production of its own brand cars in 2024. Moreover, the source claim it will use a new generation of batteries that take into account power saving and safety.
The Apple car is developed under Project Titan. This project was launched in 2014. Apple hopes to enter the automobile manufacturing industry when the growth of consumer electronics gradually slows down. Apple originally hoped to launch the first car in early 2023. Project Titan has successively undergone team changes and complex parts supply chain, causing time delays. In 2024, the direction of the project was changed from self-manufactured vehicles to self-driving systems.
Also Read: Apple Car To Come In 2023, Two Years Ahead Of The Original Schedule
Commander Project Titan kept changing roles during this period. The latest report pointed out that the person in charge for the skillet after Apple switched to 2023 Tesla Doug Field, under his leading, in early 2023 the project laid off plan managers, engineers and product designers, and other 190 workers. Now, it’s reported that the project is going well.Apple’s Goal
Another source said that Project Titan’s strategic focus is on a new battery design. It should use a unique monocell design. The latter will reduce the number of battery modules and films, thereby freeing up more battery internal space for storage. Incorporating more active materials will not only significantly reduce battery costs, but also effectively increase driving distance. In addition, Apple is also studying lithium iron phosphate batteries (LFP). They are less prone to overheating. Thus, they should to be safer than other lithium batteries. The source pointed out that it’s the next-generation battery, which will brighten the eyes of the world.
In response to the lithium iron phosphate battery, Tesla CEO Elon Musk pointed out via Twitter on Tuesday that Tesla’s Shanghai plant has now been used to produce mid-range vehicles. He also pointed out that the report claiming the design of a monocell is unlikely to be achieved electrochemically.Making Apple Car May Take Longer
Not that long ago, Bloomberg quoted sources as reporting that Apple Car may be five to seven years away from its actual launch.
Bloomberg reported that Apple’s Project Titan has indeed expanded from a purely self-driving system a few years ago to a more ambitious project. Apple has organized a small team of hardware engineers to produce driving systems, vehicle interiors, and design external car bodies. The members also include several senior executives dug from Tesla.
However, some members believe that the car plan has not yet come to the mass production stage. If Apple Car really promotes the plan, it will take 5 to 7 years for the product to be launched. One of the reasons is that under the COVID-19 epidemic, members of the task force can only work at home or work in the company for a short period of time, which delays the progress of the entire plan.
The South Korean media Hyundai Economic Daily News reported last week and then Hyundai Motor Company confirmed to CNBC that it is negotiating with Apple to produce electric cars.
However, Hyundai Motor pointed out that according to the company’s understanding, Apple is negotiating with many global automakers, including Hyundai Motor. As the discussions between the two sides are still in the early stages, nothing has been decided yet.
Hyundai Motor announced in December last year that it would acquire an 80% stake in the robotics company Boston Dynamics for US$1.1 billion. At that time, Hyundai Motor stated that it planned to use Boston Dynamics’ robots to realize the company’s vision of smart mobile solutions, investing in self-driving cars, connected and electric vehicles, and smart factories, operations research, construction and other automation solutions.Analysts are optimistic about the cooperation between the two parties
Samsung Securities Auto Analyst Im Eun-Young said: ‘Through cooperation, Hyundai Motor can provide Apple with its electric vehicle platform, and Apple can provide the necessary technology and software for electric vehicles. If it becomes a reality, it will be a huge leap in the industry for Korean cars.’
Hyundai Motor Chairman Euisun Chung, who took office last October, also said that the company will actively promote new growth businesses, focusing on electric vehicles, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and future mobile platforms.
Last month, Hyundai Motor launched a new platform that will support its electric vehicle business in the next few years. Currently, South Korea’s largest automobile group (Hyundai Motor) is committed to seizing a larger share in the fast-growing electric vehicle market.
According to Hyundai’s medium and long-term strategy, its goal is to supply 8% to 10% of the world’s electric vehicles by 2025. Hyundai Motor plans to launch more than 12 battery-powered electric vehicles (BEV) based on E-GMP, which is a dedicated electric vehicle platform for Hyundai Motor.
In addition, in order to transform into a leading service provider in the field of future travel, Hyundai Motor has also established a joint venture company Motional for autonomous vehicles with Aptiv.Xiaomi Car
Well, let’s travel to China. Everything is more interesting here. Say, Baidu has officially announced that it will personally build cars; Alibaba and SAIC have jointly established Zhiji Auto. But Xiaomi, which has always referred to itself as an ‘Internet company’, frequently appears on topics concerning car manufacturing.
In the 10 years since this Internet company started with smartphones, three-fifths of the time surrounded by ‘car-making’ rumors has been around. Although these rumors have been denied one by one by the authorities, the endless reverie they have aroused has largely reflected the expectations of the outside world.
More importantly, Lei Jun said in 2024, ‘We will not build a car in three to five years because of insufficient energy.’
From now to 2023, the ‘three to five years’ that Lei Jun originally said has expired. Moreover, the development of the smartphone industry has approached the ceiling. In contrast, the smart car market is in the early stage of its outbreak.
At the same time, as new players continue to cannibalize the market, the optimal time window for the layout of the smart car market will also be closed at an accelerated rate. Perhaps Xiaomi can also try to build a car.Should Xiaomi build a car?
After 10 years of hard work, Xiaomi has become a real internet giant. But it is undeniable that Xiaomi started from smartphone products, and now half of Xiaomi’s world is still supported by the smartphone business. According to the latest financial report data, in Q3 2023, Xiaomi’s smartphone business revenue accounted for 66% of the company’s total revenue.
However, with the development of technology, it is difficult for smartphones to have disruptive innovations. And the demand for user replacement is no longer strong.
Smartphones have realized the transition from the incremental era to the inventory era, and the market is close to saturation. According to the latest survey by IDC, in Q3 2023, the global smartphone market shipments will drop by 1.3% year-on-year. Prior to this, the year-on-year decline in Q1 in 2023 was 11.7%; the year-on-year decline in Q2 in 2023 was as high as 16%. This is the worst performance in the history of the smartphone industry.
If the bleakness of the smartphone market in 2023 is affected by the epidemic, then looking at the entire 2023, global smartphone shipments were 1.371 billion units, a year-on-year decline of 2.3%, which is the third consecutive year that global smartphone shipments have declined.New Market, New Opportunities
Focusing only on the Chinese market, under favorable policies, new electric cars sales will reach 20% of total vehicle sales by 2025.
This means that even if overall car sales no longer increase, based on the sales scale in 2023, the market size of new electric cars will exceed 5 million in 2025, which is about five times the current size.
In addition, most countries and regions in the world are promoting the development of new electric cars, and the market size will also multiply.
Moreover, automobiles have begun to transform from traditional means of transportation to smart mobile terminals. They have become important scenarios for the landing of emerging technologies such as big data, cloud computing, 5G and AI.Gizchina News of the week
Join GizChina on TelegramWhat Will Make Future Cars Competitive?
Based on the recognition of the potential of the Internet car model, Tesla’s total market value has soared to more than 800 billion U.S. dollars, almost four times that of Toyota (about 210 billion U.S. dollars), which has long dominated the global auto companies’ market value list.
Even Baidu, which only announced the components of the smart car company, after the official announcement of the news, the stock price rose by 70 billion yuan ($10.82 billion) overnight.
Regardless of the angle of view, the smart car market has infinite opportunities, which has attracted many crossover players. Among them, for smartphone manufacturers with a keen sense of smell, smart cars are very likely to be another business growth point after their smartphones.
To this end, Apple has been low-key preparations for many years, Huawei is gearing up, and Xiaomi may also be looking for a suitable opportunity.
In addition, as a major smart terminal device in the future, smart cars have a deeper meaning for Xiaomi. We mean it can become a key part of Xiaomi’s second largest business AIoT business and expand its Internet of Everything.Can Xiaomi build a car?
Although Xiaomi has never made a clear intention to build a car, as early as 2013, Lei Jun visited Musk twice and showed great interest in smart cars.
Subsequently, Xiaomi and Lei Jun began a series of investments in smart cars. The car-making level includes two new car-making forces for young users, Weilai Automobile and Xiaopeng Automobile; the Internet of Vehicles investment includes PATEO and Kay Lide; autonomous driving levels such as Smart Traveler.
The ecological chain companies invested by Xiaomi also include companies that develop smart car products such as 70 Mai, Ruimi Technology, Banya Technology, and Chemi Technology. The product categories include smart driving recorders, smart mirrors, smart rearview mirrors, and smart car chargers.
The three parties, including Lei Jun, Xiaomi Technology, and Shunwei Capital, have invested in about 40 companies related to car manufacturing, automotive aftermarket and travel.Strong Ecology
There are also many cases where Xiaomi itself and Xiaomi’s ecological chain companies and car companies jointly build smart cars. For example, through Xiao Ai, the Mercedes-Benz MBUX human-computer interaction system, the Weimar EX5 model, and the FAW Pentium T77 Mifen customized model can realize the control of smart home; Xiaomi smartphones can play Xiaopeng and BYD car keys role; the Xiaomi Mi Watch also supports the intelligent control of related models of Weilai.
Lei Jun once said, ‘The Internet of Vehicles is an important part of future technology. And cars are also the most important intelligent terminals in people’s lives in the future.
Based on the above information, the Internet of Vehicles is indeed the focus of Xiaomi’s deployment in the automotive field. Related business developments also confirm this point. According to some data, Xiaomi Technology Co., Ltd. has applied for the registration of the Xiaomi Mi Chelian trademark. At the same time, it applied for related graphic trademarks.
The number of IoT devices connected to Xiaomi’s AIoT platform has reached 289 million. Moreover, the user base continues to increase. Among them, the number of users with five or more devices connected to the Xiaomi AIoT platform (excluding smartphones and laptops) has reached 5.6 million; in addition, Xiao Ai has 78.4 million monthly active users and is one of the most active voice assistants in the world.Xiaomi Seems To Have Been Preparing For The Development Of Smart Cars All The Time
In 2024, Xiaomi applied for patents related to this field. According to the information disclosed by the National Patent Office, among the more than 2000 patents declared by Xiaomi Technology, about 10 are related to automobiles, mainly including vehicle cruise control, energy supplement, vehicle control, navigation, assisted driving, driving safety, parking information Forecast etc.
On the other hand, Xiaomi has begun to open up new automotive retail channels and deploy offline stores. In May last year, Xiaomi and Changan Mazda announced a strategic cooperation to help Changan Mazda in car sales.
Subsequently, Xiaomi’s e-commerce platform Xiaomi Youpin added ‘auto sales’ category, which is a key component of Xiaomi’s new retail strategy.
In short, Xiaomi has accumulated a certain amount of accumulated vehicles, smart cockpits, smart networking, and car sales. It has penetrated into many links in the smart car industry chain and built its own ecosystem and resource pool.
Once Xiaomi is determined to build a car, these forward-looking layouts will play a vital role.How does Xiaomi build a car?
Looking at the entire industry, Internet car manufacturing can be divided into three main models: independent car manufacturing; independent design, car factory OEM; and in-depth cooperation with traditional car companies.
Unlike consumer electronic products, the automotive industry chain is complex and lengthy. Also, it has extremely high requirements for safety and reliability. At the same time, building a car independently requires heavy asset investment.
This model has been endorsed by many giants: Baidu + Geely, Ali + SAIC (Zhiji Auto), Huawei + Changan + CATL, Apple + Kia.
Earlier, Lei Jun stated in an open letter to employees that Xiaomi has clarified the strategic direction of ‘5G+AI+loT next-generation super internet’. It will invest 50 billion yuan ($7.73 billion) in this by 2025.The smart car coincides with the three technologies of this strategy to a high degree:
5G can provide information transmission conditions with higher reliability and lower latency for intelligent networked vehicles to meet the needs of vehicles and the outside world;
AI technologies, including computer vision, machine learning, natural language processing, etc. are all core applications in the smart car scenario;
IoT devices are an indispensable part of Xiaomi’s getting on the car.
If Xiaomi really decides to build a car, it is likely to also cooperate with car companies.
After all, in the third quarter of 2023, Xiaomi’s smartphone shipments ranked top three in the world. Also, its stock price is rising. Relying on one’s own strength to rush all the money to the smart car, which is still losing money, may bring risks.
Moreover, Xiaomi smartphones are often known for their high performance-to-price ratio. But it’s not a small challenge for Xiaomi to create a smart car that meets the expectations.‘Smartphone’ Is, To Some Extent, Xiaomi’s Core Advantage
As the smart hardware with the highest degree of close integration with users’ lives, smartphones can clearly understand users’ daily habits and life patterns, making it easy to collect massive amounts of user real data. This is an essential element to create a personalized and customized driving experience.
At the same time, in terms of smartphones, Xiaomi has developed the MIUI operating system on the basis of Android. Perhaps this successful experience can also be copied to the car and the ‘MIUI system’ suitable for cars.What happens if you don’t build a car?
Prior to this, China has proposed to achieve 20% of the total sales of new electric cars by 2025. It should achieve the ‘carbon peak’ by 2030 and achieve the goal of ‘carbon neutrality’ by 2060. With the continuous support of policies, new electric cars will become a super outlet in the next few years. Moreover, it will be so even in the next ten years.
With the official announcements of Ali and Baidu, the curtain of Internet giants building cars has also begun. From the perspective of Xiaomi alone, its current focus is mostly on the Internet of Vehicles. And its willingness to build cars has not been clearly indicated. However, the competition in the field of Internet of Vehicles is now very fierce.Xiaomi And Apple Are Not Unique
Technology giants such as Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent, Huawei, and Byte have all entered the game. And the problem of product function homogeneity is relatively serious.
Moreover, Xiaomi’s AIoT ecosystem is slightly closed and only supports devices in its own system. In contrast, Huawei has launched an open protocol that can be accessed by any manufacturer.
On the other hand, the ultimate goal of the Internet of Vehicles lies in the ‘car’ itself, and car companies have an absolute say in the choice of suppliers. Car companies start to increase investment in the Internet of Vehicles. So the future may further reduce the space for Internet giants to play.
More importantly, the mobile Internet era has encountered a bottleneck. So smart cars may become the traffic portal for the next era.
If Internet giants do not have a more in-depth layout on the smart car terminal, and only rely on smart devices and application ecology to ‘get on the car’ and ‘bind’, it may be more like a wedding dress for others. Nowadays, new car-building forces such as Tesla and Weilai are competing in front of this track. And new brands born within traditional car companies are also ready to go.
If Internet giants do not catch up, they are likely to lose their tickets to the autonomous driving arms race that has not yet arrived.Of Course, Not All Crossover Vehicles Will Have Happy Ending
Dyson’s 30 billion yuan ($464 billion) electric car manufacturing project ended in failure. And many new car manufacturers also declared bankruptcy last year.
However, smart cars have gone through several years of development, and the business model has been initially verified. If Xiaomi announces that it is going to build a car one day, it will be logical.
After all, in the past 5 years, Xiaomi has not rarely threaded needles in the field of smart cars. Perhaps one day, these lines will form a huge net.Conclusion
As you can see, not only Apple and Xiaomi, but many other internet giants are going to attack this niche. It’s reasonable – they want new markets. Well, in other words, they want to find directions that will be more profitable for them. But if the aforementioned Ali, Baidou, and others are top-level internet companies, people know Xiaomi and Apple for their mobile products mainly. In this regard, it’s quite interesting to see how they can cope with this task.
P.S. We took these two not accidentally. Xiaomi is called Chinese Apple because, at least, in the past, it was copying Apple’s business model and Apple’s phones.
2024 Honda Prologue electric SUV confirmed: Here’s what we know
Honda’s first all-electric SUV for the North American market has been given its name, though you’ll still have to wait a while before you can actually put the GM-powered EV on your driveway. The 2024 Honda Prologue EV will be the first of the automaker’s new zero-emissions models, as it targets 40-percent of North American sales to be either battery-electric or hydrogen fuel cell by 2030.
By 2040, meanwhile, Honda is aiming for all of its sales to use those technologies, ousting gas completely. By 2050, the automaker says, it should be carbon-neutral across both product and corporate activities.
They’re fairly ambitious goals, but looking at Honda’s line-up currently it’s hard to imagine the automaker actually achieving them. The range of vehicles in the US and Canada right now lacks even a single all-electric model; Honda recently announced it would be retiring the Clarity line, with both plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and hydrogen versions getting the chop. It had already killed off the Clarity BEV a few years back.
What Honda needs, then, is actual EVs to sell, and that’s what the Honda Prologue will be all about. It’s being built on GM’s Ultium platform for electric vehicles, after a deal between the two automakers, though it’ll be designed by Honda and tuned to drive as its buyers expect.
“The Prologue will provide our customers with a battery-electric SUV with the excellent functionality and packaging they’ve come to expect from Honda,” Dave Gardner, executive vice president of American Honda, said today. According to Honda, the e-SUV will have “versatility and driving range on par with our current lineup of rugged SUVs.”
We’ll see more details in the coming months, Honda promises, but the actual Prologue SUV itself won’t be arriving in US and Canadian dealerships until early 2024. That same year, meanwhile, there’ll also be a new electric Acura SUV, also using GM’s platform. Naming for that hasn’t been shared yet, but we’d expect it to be more aggressively styled than the Prologue, and have a greater focus on performance – as well as a higher price tag.
At the same time, though, Honda isn’t offsetting all its electric eggs into General Motors’ basket. The automaker has also been working on its own e:Architecture, a completely new platform intended for its own vehicles. However, that’s not expected to be ready for actual production vehicles until sometime in the second half of this decade, initially for the North American market and then spreading to other regions after that.
The 2024 Honda Prologue, then, will be late to the party compared to electric SUVs from other automakers. Still, that will come with a few benefits. Instrumental to GM’s Ultium plan, after all, is developing cheaper and more power-dense EV batteries, as it tries to shave away at the price premium which electric models still carry over their internal-combustion counterparts. While Ultium may be expected to show up imminently in the form of the GMC Hummer EV, that will be a premium product, initially with a six-figure sticker. By 2024, the hope is that Honda’s Prologue will be able to come in considerably cheaper.
Jostling for food and living space can make for some tense interactions with your roommates. But just imagine thousands—or millions—of individuals spending decades sharing the same dark room. They’d need constant communication to keep the peace.
That seems to be the case even for Egyptian fruit bats, which live in large colonies and are generally social creatures. Walking into a typical roost can be a noisy experience, but are the bats just making random noises or are they actually talking to each other?
In a study published in Scientific Reports on Thursday, researchers suggest that the noisy bat calls actually do contain a lot of information, including who’s ‘speaking’ and whether the bats in a particular interaction are fighting about food, a mate, or something completely different.
“The vocalizations we looked at in this study were all categorized in the past as agonistic calls, that is, aggressive vocalizations emitted during fighting. We now show that there is information in this chaos. We demonstrate that a third individual listening to a fight between two bats can tell who is shouting, what is the context of shouting (e.g., fighting over food or over position or over mating) and even to some extent who is being shouted at. We now know that the cacophony that we hear when entering a bat cave is far from just noise,” Yossi Yovel, the lead author of the study, told Popular Science in an e-mail.
By recording a group of 22 bats for 3 months straight, Yovel and colleagues were able to figure out which bats were involved in any conversation and what they were squabbling about. But that doesn’t mean that the researchers have identified a bat language, or even the bats’ individual call signs. What they did manage to do is recognize individual bat voices.
“It is similar to humans individual voice. It is not that bats state their name, but that when you examine their voice, you can recognize who is shouting (calling),” Yovel says. “In fact, in the study, we used algorithms that are typically used for human speech recognition to recognize the individual bats.”
They could also figure out specific noises that related to food, mates, or a need for some space. But this isn’t the start of some kind of inter-species communication. (Go home Arrival, you’re drunk.)
“We do not find a ‘word’ that mean ‘hello’ or ‘move’ or ‘eat’ in bat communication,” Yovel says. “You could imagine this as something like this: when a bat shouts at another bat for taking its food, the vocalizations will always be higher in pitch than when they are fighting over a position in the cave.”
The next step will be to figure out how bats know to make those noises. Are they born with this manner of “speaking” or do they learn it over time? Yovel and his colleagues are also looking into vocalizations made outside of the confines of the roost. To gather that data, they are attaching tiny microphones to bats in the field, which is adorable. Maybe someday soon we’ll have an even more detailed answer to that age old question: ‘what does the bat say?’
On June 30, President Trump met North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un on the hermit country’s soil—a first for a sitting American president. The moment also appeared to signal a resumption of high-level negotiations over North Korea’s nuclear program.
Using satellite imagery, photos, videos and other intelligence, experts have long tried to keep as close tabs as possible on North Korea’s often-secretive nuclear program. And, as talks over its fate seem poised to continue, here’s a primer on what to know about the country’s capabilities.Short- to medium-range: meet the Nudong
Presumably, North Korea won’t be dropping nuclear bombs out of an aircraft. So, to know what North Korea is capable of, you need to know what their missiles can do.
The North Korean missile program is generally considered to have begun in the late 1970s or early 80s. At the time, the Soviet Union gave Egypt a stockpile of scud missiles, but not as many as Egypt wanted. So Egypt turned to North Korea to help them decode the technology and make their own scuds— giving both countries access to a supply of reliable missiles.
Once they had scud missiles, North Korea made them bigger and fatter until they arrived at a creation called the “Nodong” — one of its most commonly launched missiles, which can travel up to 1,300 kilometers (808 miles).
More recently, North Korea added a submarine-launched missile to its array. Called the KN-11, it has a Korean name that translates to “Polaris”, which is not-so-coincidentally what the Americans calls its equivalent. One hitch is that North Korea is only known to have one, largely experimental, submarine (and possibly another one underdevelopment).
The country also has what is thought to be a land-based version, the KN-15, though, again, they have never launched a missile and a warhead together.
North Korea’s latest launch came in April. President Trump dismissed it, saying “we don’t consider that a missile test.” Semantics aside, experts believe the country set off a new short-range missile, called the KN-23. Demonstrated only once before, it’s designed for short, low trajectories, can also fly medium-range arcs, and is similar to the Russian Iskander missile, which has a range of between 50 and 450 kilometers (31 and 280 miles)
“This puts US allies like South Korea and Japan in a very difficult position,” Matt Korda, a research associate specializing in North Korea with the Federation of American Scientists, writes via email. “Shorter-range missiles are specifically designed to target those countries.”The intermediate range: the Musudan and Hwasong-12
North Korea’s early approach to missile development was relatively systematic. “They find something that works, stretch it as far as they can and then stack it,” explains David Schmerler, a senior research associate at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies.
Building on the Nodong, North Korea arrived at the Musudan, which has a range of around 3,200 kilometers (1,988 miles). But that program, which began in the early 2000s, has been shaky at best. It’s only been successfully tested once, says Schmerler.
North Korea’s missile testing accelerated around 2014 and peaked in 2023, a period in which they debuted an array of new technology. During this era, the Musudan’s function was largely replaced with the Hwasong-12 (that translates to “Mars” in Korean). The aim, says Korda, “appears to be intended to attack U.S. staging areas like Guam.”
Perhaps more importantly, the Hwasong-12 was the country’s first indigenously engineered missile — a major step for the North Korea’s nuclear program, and one that helped lead to even longer-range weapons.The big ones: the Hwasong-14 and 15
North Korea’s nuclear ambitions have always included being able to reach the continental U.S.
Starting in the early 2000s, the Western media speculated that the “Unha” (“galaxy”) series of space launch vehicles could be a round-about way of achieving that goal. But many experts thought that was more hype than function.
“The Unha was more like the boogeyman missile,” says Schmerler. “I never looked at the Unha as a really reliable weapons system.”
In a sense, the Unha was a stop-gap measure until Kim Jong-Un could develop a land based intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). That happened in 2023 with the Hwasong-14, which has a range of more than 10,000 kilometers (6,214 miles). This was quickly followed up by the more powerful Hwasong-15.
“The HS-14 could likely target the west coast of the US (including Los Angeles and possibly Denver),” says Korda, “while the HS-15 could potentially target the entirety of the continental United States.”
While no one is sure exactly how many ICBMs North Korea has, seven appeared in a military parade in Pyongyang in early 2023. There are, however, a few caveats to their effectiveness.
One important consideration is how many launch vehicles (called Transport Erector Launchers, or TELs) North Korea has. In 2011, China sold at least six “logging” trucks to the country, in a half-hearted attempt to disguise the transfer of TELs. The latest ICMBs, however, require bigger TELs, so North Korea may have repurposed or cannibalized some of their original Chinese equipment for that task. That makes it difficult to know exactly how many operational TELs are left, which the country must have in order to launch an ICBM.
Schmerler has a similar take, noting that the U.S. would be taking a big risk by assuming it’s not possible.
Where they’re located is an unknown as well. “The missiles and launchers are largely hidden in the vast network of underground tunnels and caves that flow throughout North Korea,” says Korda. ”It’s basically impossible to tell where North Korean missiles are at any given time.”
Schmerler estimates that there are about 20 or so nodes around the country where missiles are concentrated. “When they get the order to go launch,” he said, “they just disperse.”
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