The caterers for the volunteer workforce behind the summer’s MCH hacker camp in the Netherlands served all-vegan food. This wasn’t the bean sprouts and lentils that maybe some of the more meat-eating readers might imagine when confronted with vegan food, nor was it a half-as-good array of substitutes with leathery soy hamburgers and rubbery fake cheese smelling suspiciously of feet.
Instead it was a well-crafted, interesting, and tasty menu that was something to look forward to after several hours driving a vanload of handwashing sinks. It was in one of their meals that I found food for thought when driving a week later past the huge Garzweiler open-cast lignite mine on my way through Germany to Luxembourg’s Haxogreen as part of my European hacker camp summer tour.
The meal was deep-fried soy protein strips and the mine is probably one of Western Europe’s dirtiest and most problematic CO2 sources in a country that likes to imagine itself as environmentally friendly, so where in this unlikely connection did I find a pairing? Continue reading “Engineers: Be Subversive To Be Green”
In an interesting turn of events last week in a German court, evidence has materialized that engineers were ordered to cheat emissions testing when developing automotive parts.
Last Tuesday, Ulrich Weiß brought forward a document that alleges Audi Board of Director members were involved in ordering a cheat for diesel emissions. Weiß was the head of engine development for Audi, suspended in November of 2015 but continued to draw more than half a million dollars in salary before being fired
after prior to last week’s court testimony.
Volkswagen Group is the parent company of Audi and this all seems to have happened while the VW diesel emissions testing scandal we’ve covered since 2015 was beginning to come to light. Weiß testified that he was asked to design a method of getting around strict emissions standards in Hong Kong even though Audi knew their diesel engines weren’t capable of doing so legitimately.
According to Weiß, he asked for a signed order. When he received that order he instructed his team to resist following it. We have not seen a copy of the letter, but the German tabloid newspaper Bild reports that the letter claims approval by four Audi board members and was signed by the head of powertrain development at the company.
Hackaday was unable to locate any other sources reporting on the letter other than the Bild article we have linked to (also the source used in the Forbes article above). Sources such as Die Welt reference only “internal papers”. If you know of other reporting on the topic please leave a comment about it below.
[James Liang], an engineer at Volkswagen for 33 years, plead guilty today to conspiracy. He was an engineer involved in delivering Diesel vehicles to market which could detect an emissions test scenario and perform differently from normal operation in order to pass US emission standards.
A year ago we talked about the Ethics in Engineering surrounding this issue. At the time we wondered why any engineer would go along with a plan to defraud customers. We may get an answer to this after all. [Mr. Liang] will cooperate with authorities as the VW probe continues.
According to information in the indictment, none of this happened by mistake (as we suspected). There was a team responsible for developing a mode that would detect a test and pass inspection after the company discovered the engine could not otherwise pass. It’s not hard to see the motivation behind this — think of the sunk cost in developing an engine design. The team responsible for cheating the tests went so far as to push software updates in 2014 which made the cheat better, and lying about the existence of these software “features” when questioned by authorities (again, according to the indictment).
Handheld measuring devices make great DIY projects. One can learn a lot about a sensor or sensor technology by just strapping it onto a spare development board together with an LCD for displaying the sensor output. [Richard’s] DIY air quality meter and emissions tester is such a project, except with the custom laser-cut enclosure and the large graphic LCD, his meter appears already quite professional.
Continue reading “DIY Air Quality Meter And Emissions Tester”