T-Mobile, Deutsche Telekom, and Telit Communications form an M2M alliance, NASA and the US Air Force get into cloud computing

T-Mobile, Deutsche Telekom, and Telit Communications form an M2M alliance, NASA and the US Air Force get into cloud computing

By Andrew Tolve

Toyota will recall more than 300,000 Prius 2010 models due to problems with the car’s antilock braking system. The company has received 124 complaints in the US and 77 in Japan stating that the 2010 model momentarily loses braking capability on rough or slick road surfaces, like potholes or speed bumps. The company acknowledged that the problem stems from a glitch in the Prius’s regenerative braking system software, which in certain scenarios causes a lag before the brakes engage.

“I apologize for the great inconvenience and concerns of our customers due to recalls of multiple models in multiple regions,” said Toyota’s president Akio Toyoda at a press conference in Japan. “Believe me, Toyota’s concern is safety. We are trying to [make] our product better.”

The recall will be Toyota’s second of 2010; the first, still under way, is for gas pedals that stick to floor mats in multiple Toyota models. That recall is expected to cost the company $1.1 billion, plus a significant drop in share value. “We’re doing our best to fix problems with floor mats and accelerator pedals in the United States,” said Toyoda. “So as time passes, I believe customer trust will return.”

The Prius recall, however, will likely be larger, more expensive, and more damaging to Toyota’s international image and share value. The US Department of Transportation has opened an investigation into the Prius’s braking system. Toyota is yet to announce if the Lexus HS250h and the Japanese model, the Sai, both of which use the same braking system software as the 2010 Prius, will be recalled.


Ford announced plans to fix a similar software braking problem in Mercury Milan and Ford Fusion gas-electric hybrids. While the company denied that its decision constitutes a recall—instead, it labeled it a “customer satisfaction program”—more than 17,000 Fords will be called off the road to fix the problem, which a test driver described as a slight lag when the car transitions from its regenerative brakes to its conventional brakes, giving the impression the car’s brakes have failed.

M2M Union

T-Mobile, Deutsche Telekom, and Telit Communications announced plans to form a far-reaching partnership in the M2M industry. The three companies will collaborate on marketing, services, and development of M2M products. Telit develops technologies for the M2M market, while T-Mobile and Deutsche Telekom offer networks that enable rapid mobile data transfer. The three companies say they hope to develop significant M2M solutions for telematics, fleet management, and navigation.

Samsung and Yota

Samsung unveiled plans to expand its role in the Russian wireless market. The electronics company will provide Yota, one of Russia’s primary mobile service providers, with more than 5,000 cellular base stations and access control routers. Samsung first partnered with Yota in 2008. The 2010 expansion of their contract will bring Yota’s wireless service, known as Mobile WiMAX, to 15 new cities in Russia.

Amazon vs. Apple

Last week Google reminded consumers of the soon-to-be released Chrome Tablet, which it hopes will compete with the heavily hyped Apple iPad. This week reports leaked out that Amazon plans to acquire Touchco, a touch-screen technology start-up, in an attempt to soup up the Kindle e-reader. Industry experts have posited that the iPad poses a serious threat to the Kindle’s long-term viability. If Amazon’s acquisition comes to fruition, it could spell the end of E Ink, whose technology enables the current Kindle’s black-and-white platform.

NASA and The Cloud

NASA announced plans to embrace cloud computing for the development of applications, as well as to run models and simulations. The space agency signed a two-year contract with Parabon Computation, which will deliver its Frontier Grid Platform for NASA scientists and engineers to utilize. The initial focus area will be climate modeling, but if things go well, the cloud likely will expand to a more general-purpose function.

The US Air Force and The Cloud

Finally, IBM announced plans test cloud computing for the U.S. Air Force. The US Air Force has an ever-growing mine of data that has become burdensome and expensive to store on internal servers. IBM’s cloud model would store the information on an external, private server that select users could access. IBM has faced questions about the security risk of storing sensitive information on an external server. The company hopes its trial run with the Air Force will improve its product and win over more contracts in the public sector.

“You don’t want somebody to get in and manipulate the information,” Robert Ames, deputy chief technology officer of IBM’s federal division, told Bloomberg in an interview last week. “It will certainly give us direct experience with these government requirements and the ability to shape our offerings.”

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