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Development of self-healing lens material to prevent traffic accidents in self-driving cars



– Preventing distortion of autonomous vehicle sensor signals by removing scratches in 60 seconds with sunlight – Published in the January issue of ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces
Full video of the self-healing process

Newswise — Safety issues of self-driving cars have emerged due to frequent self-driving traffic accidents. A self-healing lens material that can prevent car accidents that occur due to signal distortion by restoring scratches on the sensor surface of the self-driving car has been developed.

The Korea Research Institute of Chemical Technology (KRICT, President Lee, Young Kuk) research team led by Dr. Kim Jin Chul, Park Young Il, and Jeong Ji-Eun* and Prof. Kim Hak-Rin and Prof. Cheong In Woo in Kyungpook National University (KNU) developed a material that heals scratches on the sensor of an autonomous vehicle.
* Technology from「Can scratches on car surfaces disappear when exposed to sunlight? : A new self-healing coating material」, published in 2022, has been further developed to enable not only structural recovery but also functional recovery such as recovery of an optical signal.

When this self-healing optical material is used in the sensor of an autonomous vehicle, it is expected that the life expectancy of the product can be increased and future technology that can prevent malfunctions due to surface damage can be secured.

A lens is a tool that collects or disperses light and is used in many everyday optical devices such as cameras, cell phones, and glasses. However, if the lens surface is damaged by a scratch, the image or optical signal received by the optical device can be severely distorted.

Recently, traffic accidents caused by recognition errors and malfunctions of vision systems* such as LiDAR sensors and image sensors of self-driving cars have repeatedly occurred. As a result, confidence in the safety of self-driving cars is rather low**.
* LIDAR sensors and image sensors that acts as the ‘eyes’ of an autonomous vehicle
** The results of a survey by the American Automobile Association showed that the number of respondents who were afraid of using self-driving cars increased by 13% from 55% in 2022 to 68% in 2023.

The KRICT-KNU joint research team developed a transparent lens material that can remove scratches on the sensor surface within 60 seconds when focused sunlight is irradiated using a simple tool such as a magnifying glass.

Because self-healing is favorable when molecular movement within the polymer is free, flexible materials are generally advantageous in securing excellent self-healing performance. However, lenses or protecting coating materials are made of hard materials, and thus it is very difficult to impart a self-healing function. To solve this problem, the research team combined a thiourethane structure, which is already being used as a lens material, and a transparent photothermal dye* to design a ‘dynamic chemical bond’ in which the polymers repeat disassembly and recombination under irradiation of sunlight.
* A dye that converts light energy into heat energy

In particular, the developed transparent organic photothermal dye can selectively absorb light of a specific near-infrared wavelength (850-1050 nm) without interfering with the visible light region (350-850 nm) used for image sensors and the near-infrared region (~1550 nm) used for LiDAR sensors.

When sunlight is absorbed by photothermal dyes, the surface temperature of the developed lens material rises as the light energy is converted into thermal energy. Subsequently, the increased surface temperature makes it possible to self-heal a surface scratch by repeating the dissociation and recombination of chemical bonds in the polythiourethane structure.

The developed lens material shows perfect self-healing even when scratches cross each other, and provides excellent resilience, maintaining 100% of the self-healing efficiency even if the process of scratching and healing at the same location is repeated more than five times.

Dr. Lee Young Kuk, president of KRICT, said, “This technology is a platform technology that synthesizes self-healing lens materials using both an inexpensive high-refractive polymer material and a photothermal dye. It is expected to be widely used in various applications such as autonomous vehicle sensors as well as glasses and cameras.”

Source:  National Research Council of Science and Technology


Alpha Motor Corporation’s Ride-Along Event: Shaping the Future of Electric Vehicles

Alpha Motor Corporation shapes the future of electric vehicles through customer-centric ride-along events. Experience the journey at https://youtu.be/rFkpVdyLqOA.



Alpha Motor Corporation recently celebrated the successful completion of its ride-along event, a pivotal moment in their quest to revolutionize electric vehicles. Guided by valuable feedback from potential customers who experienced the ride, Alpha is dedicated to tailoring electric vehicles to meet consumer needs effectively.

Copyright © 2024 Alpha Motor Corporation. All rights reserved.

This milestone event, captured in all its glory at https://youtu.be/rFkpVdyLqOA, underscores Alpha’s commitment to customer-centric vehicle development. Following the WOLF truck’s impressive performance in the Southern California desert last summer, this ride-along event solidifies Alpha’s dedication to creating vehicles that resonate with the mainstream market.

Alpha’s ride-along event is available for viewing at https://youtu.be/rFkpVdyLqOA.

Amidst varying weather conditions and challenging terrains, the WOLF truck effortlessly navigated a designated course, showcasing its prowess in handling, speed, and efficiency. Impressively, the vehicle utilized only 20% of its battery capacity during the eight-hour event, with a speedy total charge time of just 30 minutes.

Alpha Motor Corporation aims to leverage the insights gleaned from these ride-along events to enhance vehicle development continually. By incorporating feedback from participants and analyzing driving experiences, Alpha ensures that their electric vehicles not only meet but exceed consumer expectations.

Looking ahead, Alpha plans to host more ride-along events to gather valuable feedback, further refining the driving performance of its modular EV platform. This platform, shared by various models like the WOLF+, SUPERWOLF, REX SUV, and JAX Crossover, embodies Alpha’s commitment to delivering high-quality electric vehicles with accessible design, performance, and ownership experience.

As a trailblazing American automobile company based in Irvine, California, Alpha Motor Corporation is devoted to crafting sustainable transportation solutions that benefit both people and the environment. Through cutting-edge technologies and innovative practices, Alpha is reshaping the automotive landscape, one electrifying vehicle at a time.

For more information, visit https://www.alphamotorinc.com or contact pr@alphamotorinc.com.

(Source: Alpha Motor Corporation)

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Nissan’s Potential Move of Rogue Production Spells Trouble for Tennessee Factory

Nissan’s potential move of Rogue production to Japan spells trouble for its Tennessee factory and US operations.



Nissan’s potential decision to relocate the production of the fourth-generation Rogue to Kyushu, Japan, could have significant implications for its Tennessee-based operations. The Japanese automaker has communicated to suppliers its intention to achieve a “significant reduction” in parts pricing when the next-generation crossover enters production in 2026. This move comes as Nissan seeks to cut costs, with reports indicating that the company has asked suppliers to reduce the cost of parts by an average of 20%, with some suppliers being asked for reductions of up to 30%.

The Smyrna, Tennessee-built Rogue holds a crucial position as Nissan’s best-selling model in the American market. With around 6,700 workers, the Smyrna facility heavily relies on the production of the Rogue, as approximately 40% of the factory’s output comprises this model. The potential relocation of Rogue production to Japan could leave the Tennessee plant in a vulnerable position, especially considering the impending cessation of production for the Nissan Leaf, another key model produced at the facility.

Moreover, the move could be influenced by the company’s efforts to reduce costs amidst potential increases in operational expenses, possibly linked to unionization efforts. Industry analysts have expressed surprise at the magnitude of the price reduction being sought and the potential threat of moving an entire vehicle’s production to another country. This decision could have far-reaching consequences, as it may not only impact the Tennessee factory but also affect Nissan’s broader operations in the United States.

As the automaker evaluates revised quotations for the new Rogue, a decision is expected to be made in February. However, industry experts believe that if Nissan proceeds with moving Rogue production to Japan, it could spell financial trouble for Nissan USA, potentially leading to the closure of a plant. The outcome of this decision is crucial not only for Nissan but also for the future landscape of automotive manufacturing in the United States.

Stay tuned for updates as Nissan executives prepare to make their final decision on the fate of the Rogue’s production.


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5 Ways to Protect Your Automotive Investment



(Family Features) Between inventory issues and climbing interest rates, buying a vehicle can be quite an ordeal, making it an investment worth protecting.

Today’s vehicles require less maintenance than ever before. You can go longer between oil changes and many tires are rated for longer travel. However, keeping up with regular maintenance remains part of your vehicle’s upkeep.

Whether you’ve purchased a new vehicle or you’re aiming to keep a car or truck you already own in good working condition, these tips can help you maintain its peak performance and appearance.

Car Wash: At least once a month, make a point of washing your car to remove built up grime. Not only is the dirt unsightly, but the mess can also damage your paint job and even the frame. This is especially true during the winter months when road salt splatters your vehicle’s undercarriage. Once the temperatures climb back above freezing, be sure to wash away the salt.

Covered Parking: When possible, use a garage or other form of covered parking. You’ll protect your paint job from harsh UV rays, and you’ll also limit exposure to bird droppings and other potentially corrosive or damaging elements in the environment, like dust and pollen.

Windshield Wipers: Visibility is one of the most important aspects of safety when you’re driving, and windshield wiper blades play an essential role. Squeaking, streaking and failing to clear precipitation are all signs your blades need to be replaced. Check wipers regularly and plan on replacing them at least every 6-12 months.

Battery: You may not think much about your battery as long as your engine is turning over and your vehicle is running smoothly. However, even a car in good condition can have battery damage. At least once a year, check for signs of battery acid. If you detect the white powdery substance around your battery terminals, disconnect the cables (negative first) and apply a mixture of baking soda and water with a wire brush. Rinse with water and dry before replacing the cables.

Air Filter: The air filter doesn’t just affect the air quality in the cabin of your vehicle. A dirty filter can also cause engine strain because it hinders proper air flow. Over time, you may even notice a decline in gas mileage and acceleration performance. Many factors affect how often you need to replace your filter, but a quick visual inspection should give you a clear idea. Your owner’s manual will help you determine how to access the filter; it’s easier than people often assume.

Find more practical tips for auto care at eLivingtoday.com.

Photo courtesy of Unsplash

Family Features

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