New EV Prototype Leaves Range Anxiety in the Dust 

Mercedes-Benz’s solar-boosted R&D car bested 1,200-kilometers in May

Not long ago, a 300-mile range seemed like a healthy target for electric cars. More recently, the 520-mile (837-kilometer) Lucid Air became the world’s longest-range EV. But that record may not stand for long.

The Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX, and its showroom-bound tech, looks to banish range anxiety for good: In April, the sleek prototype sedan completed a 621-mile (1,000-km) trek through the Alps from Mercedes’s Sindelfingen facility to the Côte d’Azur in Cassis, France, with battery juice to spare. It built on that feat in late May, when the prototype covered a world-beating, bladder-busting 747 miles (1,202 km) in a run from Germany to the Formula One circuit in Silverstone, England.

“The car is an R&D project, but we’re feeding it into the development of our next compact car platform,” says Conrad Sagert, an engineer at Mercedes who is developing electric drive systems 

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Space 5G Is On the Launchpad 

Standard handsets on Earth, in some locations, will soon connect directly to satellites for remote roaming

The next generation of cellphone networks won’t just be 5G or 6G—they will be zero g. In April, Lynk Global launched the first direct-to-mobile commercial satellite, and on 15 August a competitor, AST SpaceMobile, confirmed plans to launch an experimental direct-to-mobile satellite of its own in mid-September. Inmarsat and other companies are working on their own low Earth orbit (LEO) cellular solutions as launch prices drop, satellite fabrication methods improve, and telecoms engineers push new network capabilities. 

LEO satellite systems such as SpaceX’s Starlink and Amazon’s Kuiper envision huge constellations of satellites. However, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission just rejected SpaceX’s application for some of the US $9 billion federal rural broadband fund—in part because the Starlink system requires a $600 ground station. Space-based cell service would not require special equipment, making it a potential candidate for rural broadband funds if companies can develop solutions to the many challenges that face satellite-based smartphone service.  

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Top Programming Languages 2022

Python's still #1, but employers love to see SQL skills

Welcome to IEEE Spectrum’s ninth annual ranking of the Top Programming Languages! This year we’ve revamped and streamlined our interactive ranking tool, and made other changes under the hood, but the goal remains the same—to combine multiple metrics from different sources to estimate the relative popularity of different languages.

You can get into the details of our methodological changes below (the TLDR is that we eliminated the need for folks to run a giant ball of floating-point math in their browser), but first let’s get into what the rankings tell us this year.


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A Lithium Battery That Goes to Extremes  

Extreme-temperature lithium-sulfur battery could be a boon for spacecraft and drones

A new lithium-ion battery works at frigid temperatures of -40 °C all the way to a scorching high of 50 °C. With a cathode made of sulfur, the new lithium-sulfur battery could also pack more energy than is possible with today’s chemistries.

The batteries could increase the driving range of EVs in cold climates. They could also be used in satellites, spacecraft, high-altitude drones, and submarines. “By largely expanding the operation window for lithium batteries, we can provide more robust and resilient battery chemistry for applications beyond EVs,” says Zheng Chen, a professor of nanoengineering at the University of California, San Diego. 

Today’s batteries, with their graphite anodes and lithium metal oxide cathodes, don’t handle extreme temperatures very well. High temperatures exacerbate the already highly chemically active environment inside a battery cell, causing side reactions that decompose the electrolyte and other battery materials, resulting in irreversible damage. Low temperatures, meanwhile, thicken the liquid electrolyte, so lithium ions move through it sluggishly, leading to power loss and slow charging  


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