Category: Hi-Tech


A 25-foot shuttle bus manufactured in Porterville will be made fully autonomous as part of a new business partnership. Photo via GreenPower

Published On March 2, 2020 – 2:31 PM
Written By 

Coming soon to a street (but probably not near you): an all-electric, autonomous bus.

GreenPower Motor Company Inc., the Canadian-based electric bus maker with an assembly plant in Porterville, is partnering with a Virginia-based technology firm to make it happen.

GreenPower and Perrone Robotics have teamed up to develop the first all-electric, fully-autonomous transit bus, with portions being built in both Porterville and the latter company’s Virginia headquarters.

The EV Star shuttle, a 25-foot-long bus made by GreenPower, could be completed within 90 days, said GreenPower President Brendan Riley.

He noted this will not be a test vehicle, as the company has a buyer lined up who plans to put the bus on the road providing transit services, possibly within six-12 months.

“It will have a safety driver, at least for now,” said Riley, who declined to identify the customer, how that business plans to use the autonomous bus or even in which state it will be used.

“It won’t be in California,” he said.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and other sources report the Golden State, along with 10 others and the District or Columbia, allows the use of all types of autonomous vehicles on roads.

Four of those — California among them — don’t require safety drivers in the vehicles under any circumstances.

Riley said an EV Star is being converted to become autonomous, with Perrone Robotics providing the self-driving technology.

On its website, Perrone Robotics describes itself as having been “behind the first general-purpose robotics software platform for autonomous vehicles and robots. We call this platform MAX. We make the analogy that MAX is to robots as Windows is to computers or as Android is to smartphones.”

In recent years, “we wanted to zero in on places where we could deploy autonomous vehicles sooner rather than later. This led us to focus on last-mile shuttles and then to specific transit routes that operated in well-known spaces,” the website continues, stating that the company created its TONY (TO Navigate You) general autonomy system to be included in existing vehicles and is being added to GreenPower’s EV Star.

Riley noted that this will be a level-5 autonomous vehicle, able to navigate traffic without the need for a safety driver — unless required by law or the owner requires one — and stopping to pick up and drop off passengers, though once the first one is finished, Perrone will initiate a series of tests to certify it operates as it should.

On its website, Perrone officials report they have spent months successfully testing the TONY system in Virginia on a different shuttle bus.

If all goes as planned, Riley said GreenPower is considering building all of its buses to be capable of autonomous driving, if customers choose to add on the programming and if it’s legal where those buses will run.

Next-generation wireless revolution takes root in Bakersfield

The next revolution in mobile technology has arrived in Bakersfield — but it’s probably not time to celebrate just yet.

Earlier this month, AT&T announced its local launch of the highly anticipated wireless coverage known as 5G, joining T-Mobile, which introduced a similar service in early December. (Sprint and Verizon have not yet made the service available in Bakersfield.)

The launches mean people with the right kind of cellphone and the right mobile service plan should be able to receive data faster — perhaps 20 percent faster than they did under the previous best technology, known as 4G LTE.

But that’s still a far cry from the giant technological leap 5G is expected to offer users within the next few years, when download speeds are supposed to be 100 times faster than most of today’s cellphones.

“It’ll still be a while before it actually rolls out to the public like 5G is intended to,” said Steven Saldana, technician and sales manager at JJ Wireless at 2200 Panama Lane. “I think it’s still way too early to be talking about 5G.”

As wireless technology specialists see it, both local 5G service launches represent a modest first step that will be followed by many incremental improvements. Even the earliest of adopters might not see major improvement for two to three years.

They say that ultimately, a movie that now takes 10 minutes to download on a phone will be ready in seconds. Video calls will be of the highest visual quality with no delays. Texting and most file transfers will be essentially instantaneous.

But that’s just the start. People in the business say 5G will change entire industries, including farming. It will pave the way for self-driving vehicles, give students immersive educational experiences and allow surgeons to perform procedures on patients in other states.

The same technology is also expected to extend cellphones’ battery life.

There are significant limitations, however, and they won’t be resolved soon.

5G-ready cellphones are expected to cost hundreds of dollars more than most phones do now. Wireless service carriers still have major investments to make in infrastructure across the country.

The very best service, utilizing a part of the electromagnetic spectrum cellphones today don’t use, will work only in very close proximity to cellular antennas. And even then, incoming data signals won’t be able to pass through walls, meaning there will have to be antennas almost everywhere.

All of this puts a premium on investment by wireless carriers, because the first to offer the speediest service with the largest capacity for moving data will win customers.

In that regard, last week’s news that a judge has approved T-Mobile’s $26.5 billion acquisition of rival Sprint could be significant. The merger is expected to combine the two companies’ budgets for investing in 5G infrastructure.

AT&T, for its part, said the “5G Evolution” coverage it launched Feb. 3 in Bakersfield works as much as two times faster than standard 4G LTE. It expects to deliver upgraded 5G service nationwide later this year, followed by super-fast but limited-reach “5G+” in coming years.

Eventually, cellphones are expected to use all the different 5G variations, with speeds and data-handling capacity fluctuating according to the kind of signal available locally.

In the meantime, the name 5G will be used to impress consumers without offering the tremendous benefits that lie ahead, asserted J. Sharpe Smith, a wireless industry journalist based in Des Moines, Iowa.

“They’re all saying that they have 5G, but really, the impact of it so far is very early adopter stage,” said.

As its name suggests, 5G is the fifth generation of cellular communications technology. Like previous generations, its rollout will not immediately make earlier technology — 3G and 4G — moot, and in fact, those two wireless standards will continue to operate in cities where 5G capability exists.

There’s an expectation that 5G will spark new cellphone apps, even launch whole new companies and new ways of doing business.

One example with local relevance is aerial imagery for growers of specialty crops like almonds and table grapes.

Oakland-based Ceres Imaging expects to use 5G technology to give its customers mobile coverage in fields where they can’t get it now — at the highest resolution imaginable.

“While our technology pinpoints issues at a plant level, our customers often struggle with reception while walking fields,” Marketing Vice President John Bourne said by email.

Regarding consumer use, 5G enthusiasts talk about the technology offering a new user experience.

Anand Gandhi, a 25-year telecomm veteran working as chief technology officer at New Jersey-based wireless innovation company Squan, described 5G in terms of running out of milk.

In a 5G world, he said by email, your refrigerator will make sure you receive an alert that you’re out of milk just as you’re leaving work. Your vehicle will take you to a grocery store, which will have received the milk order ahead of time.

“This will all be handled without any action on your part,” Gandhi said.

He estimated that about 10 percent of U.S. cellphones will be upgraded to 5G by the end of this year. By 2023, he said, about 55 percent are expected to be 5G-ready.

Atlanta-based wireless telecomm analyst Jeff Kagan said it’s not going to be particularly important which wireless carrier a consumer chooses because all of them will eventually offer the service. If you like your service provider, he said, “stick with it.”

He also said the changes ahead will be breathtaking.

A Brave New World: Latest in agriculture at Expo in Tulare

TULARE — Traditionally the Farmer’s Almanac predicts rainy weather during early to middle February said Lt. Boatman from the Tulare Police Department, who was helping on the first day of the 2020 World Ag Expo on Tuesday, at the International Agri-Center in Tulare.

But it was a clear, bright, and beautifully sunny day, and at least 30,000 people or more were expected to attend the show. And over the three days, Tuesday, today and Thursday, Feb. 13, there could be anywhere from 90,000 to more than  100,000 people attending from all over the world.

When the gates opened and hundreds of people were lined up to enter, at about 9:30 the Star Spangled Banner was sung, and people respectfully sang with their hands over their hearts.

Boatman said the Porterville Police Department, and the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department were also helping the Tulare Police Department, as well as the Explorers from all over Tulare County.

On the trams that run throughout the Ag Expo, people were getting rides to wherever they needed to go, and all of the Expo volunteers were incredibly helpful and accommodating.

There are more than 266 acres of fascinating new agricultural equipment, such as huge feed mixers, farm trucks, with huge pavilions full of exhibitors throughout the show.

Looking at giant mixers for cattle feed, they look like huge blenders that mix alfalfa, grain, corn silage, minerals and vitamins, or whatever the nutritional needs to keep cows healthy, explained a rancher.

Hopping on one of the trams, Bill Horst, who’s been to all of the ag shows since they started in 1968, or 51 years ago, said there’s lots to see, lots to do, and the food was great. He recommended the Peach Cobbler.

There was a large pavilion where hemp products were being displayed, and an informational talk was being given, explaining oilseed, fiber, and extract type comes from hemp, and hemp fiber has been made to make clothing for years.

For medical use there’s “cannabis” which is used by adults.

A vendor for special bags to keep hemp fresh said there’s a big wave of growers who are getting back into growing hemp because of the huge variety of uses, besides CBD oil, which can be used medicinally.

Besides exhibits of merchandise, and vendors at the show there are also all kinds of seminars at the expo such as a discussion about “Rural Broadband and it’s importance to Agriculture,” to presentations about international trade, and modern professionally installed irrigation, and much more.

Southern California Edison had an exhibit where they had an electric heavy duty farm truck, an electric forklift, and an electric Nissan car. Brian Thoburn said Edison’s theme was to showcase its vision to put a million medium to heavy duty electric vehicles on the road in California, to help the state meet its energy goals for clean energy. He said another important thing was Edison’s efforts to represent its $356 million investment to help their customers to make greater use of electric transportation, including agricultural, business, and residential customers.

Thoburn also said there was a safety demonstration, and Edison Electric Safety Board would give a presentation and explain safety issues of electricity outside the house, around electrical poles.

Later, sitting down having lunch, Ismael Aguirre, from Jordan Central Equipment, in Blythe, Calif., which is near Arizona, said he was at the show to see all the new tractors and farm equipment. “There are people here from everywhere, and it’s wonderful to see all the new equipment that comes out, and meet the people who build them. I love the technical side of the equipment.

Walking down one of the streets, Amanda Yan, from Hergesheimer’s Donuts in Porterville said the Porterville Exchange Club and students had a booth.

Thirteen students from Monache Hospitality Pathways helped out, in two shifts, with the Porterville Exchange Club Concession Stand selling hamburgers, fries, drinks, and specialty deep fried oreos, and more during the day.

Aira Baez, Carla Montejano, Michelle Garcia, Annie Otero, Madison Morris, and Kristina Williamson all said they learned how to prepare food efficiently, quickly, and under pressure, but they had fun and the food was “yummy.”

Johnny Orduno, Yolanda Bocanegra, Betty Luna, and Pete Lara, and others were all helping to run the stand, and Bocanegra, said it was her third time at the expo, and she’s a member of the Exchange Club. ”I love doing this and being a part of the group. They are wonderful people who serve the community of Porterville. And I love working with the students from all our Porterville schools.”

“The reason the Exchange Club does the food concession stand,” said Luna, Club President, “is to fundraise for child abuse prevention, support our veterans, and give scholarships to Harmony Magnet Academy and Strathmore High School.

Luna said to the students as they left, “You’ve done a fabulous job.”


Sticks are up at a development project at Herndon and Peach avenues in Clovis by the Marihart family, owners of 13 Prime Steak and PC Solutions. Photo by Falina Marihart

Published On February 5, 2020 – 12:37 PM
Written By Donald A. Promnitz

A long-vacant parcel of land in Clovis will be getting several new leases on life over the next three years, with construction officially under way on a pair of buildings.

The land — stretching 2.3 acres on the corner of Herndon and Peach avenues in Clovis — was purchased in parcels by Marihart Properties between 2017 and 2019. According to John, James and Falina Marihart, the family business started construction on phase one in November, which they expect to complete in the summer. Once completed, 4,000 square feet of the 10,000-square-foot building will house the new headquarters for PC Solutions. PC Solutions was founded by John D. Marihart.

“We’ve come so far since literally starting the company in my garage to now employing the best IT professionals and actively scaling our products for growth,” John D. Marihart said.

The remaining part of the building will be available for lease.

Phase two, meanwhile, is expected to begin sometime between six months and a year from now. Plans call for its completion in 2021. That building will be 16,000 square feet. James Marihart will manage the day-to-day operations.

“As we’ve all seen, Clovis is booming and the future is bright for businesses in the city,” said James Marihart, managing partner. “As each one of our buildings go up, more and more jobs will be created.”

Phase three is expected for 2023, according to the Mariharts. It will house a restaurant similar to popular steakhouse 13 Prime Steak, which is also owned by John D. Marihart.

“It’ll serve the community in that area — breakfast, lunch and dinner, possibly,” Falina Marihart said. “So it’s still going to be quality food and everything, just a different price.”

Target Constructors, Inc., out of Madera, Ca., won the bid to complete the construction on the projects.

New construction plan in Clovis to help businesses rise

CLOVIS, Calif. (KFSN) — Construction workers are taking advantage of the good weather to hammer out a 10,000 square foot office building.

A portion of the space will be the new home of PC Solutions, a networking and data security business.

“PC Solutions started out of my brother’s garage 15 years ago with one employee and just fixing computers straightaway to customers, and we’ve actually grown to 13 employees now,” says Managing Partner James Marihart.

The business is looking to expand even more once they move into their new home at Peach at Herndon.

The complex is part of a bigger plan to eventually build a sister restaurant to the 13 Prime Steak at Willow and Nees.

“It will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner and have a full-service bar, so we’re very, very excited about that. There’s not a lot of breakfast options in Clovis, so we’re excited to provide that benefit to the community.”

A look above the construction project from Skyview 30 shows the ongoing work. Phase one is an office complex, and phase two is an even larger business complex. The third and final phase is the restaurant.

It will be located at the most prime spot, closest to the corner of Herndon.

The partners will be looking to lease office space at this current location. Phase one of the project is expected to be completed this summer.

Business landscape looks bright for Shafter

January 9, 2020 | View PDF

Courtesy Wonderful Company

The Walmart distribution center is scheduled to open in the fall of 2020.

The City of Shafter has been enjoying a reputation of being one of the fastest growing cities in business in recent years, attracting such companies as Target, Ross and several other big retailers.

The most recent addition is Walmart, which is scheduled to open the most technologically advanced distribution center in the nation in Shafter in the fall of 2020.

Bob Meadows, business development director for the city, says Shafter is a sought-after destination for businesses, large and small.

“We have several irons in the fire. This year should see the city continue to build on this success and make 2020 a special one.”

Financially, the city has been touted as one of the most financially sound cities in the state. Meadows said that since he joined the city last year, he has become aware of the great reputation the city has in Kern County, as well as in the state of California.

A big draw for the city, Meadows says, is the willingness of the city to work with potential developers and retailers, as well as the technological advantages Shafter has. “Having the city connected through our fiber optic lines throughout the city has been a great benefit.”

Looking forward into 2020, Meadows said that the biggest item on the agenda so far is the opening of the Walmart facility. This will mean over 200 jobs for the community, with about a third of the jobs STEM-related – tied to science, technology, engineering and mathematics — with the other two-thirds general laborers.

“We are excited to see how many of the jobs are going to go to Shafter residents, which will mean the dollars staying here locally,” commented Meadows.

Another exciting development for 2020 is the growing relationship between the city and the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. The KCHCC has been very beneficial to county and its businesses, Meadows said, with a good many of businesses working with the chamber enrich the local communities.

In addition to the contacts that are made with a relationship with the chamber, they also have made a big impact on local businesses with holding their business academies. The academy is a 12-week program that helps small local businesses learn how to operate successfully, as well as how to market their products and services, and get their companies out in the community. “We are looking forward to the possibility of holding a business academy right here in Shafter for our local businesses,” said Meadows.

As far as new businesses on the horizon, Meadows said that there has been a lot of interest in several locations throughout the city, including the property at Central Avenue and Central Valley Highway that used to house Brookside Deli. “We have a couple of people that are very interested in the property, and they both are food-related, which is good because the property already is equipped to house a food establishment,” Meadows said.

He said that they also have had discussions about different businesses coming to Shafter, including a veterinarian, additional automotive service businesses, a drive-thru car wash and additional medical clinics. “Rural medicine is a big issue in our economy, with a lot of people looking for affordable healthcare,” Meadows said.

The city was the recipient of surplus of sales tax revenue last year. This unexpected development was the result of a large number of customers who ordered products online this year.

Retailer William Sonoma paid the city a large amount of sales tax money that was not forecast. “A lot of people ordered online this last year,” said Meadows, “which was very nice for us.”

Meadows said that the businesses at the Wonderful Logistics Park do amazing things when it comes to business relationships across the state and the United States, but there is not a lot of actual income that is produced out there.

“The difference in the William Sonoma retailer and retailers like Target and Ross is that for the online ordering, the sale is actually in the city of Shafter. With the distribution centers, the sales are not done here, the product is just shipped to and from a location, so the sales tax money goes to the city where the sale actually takes place.”

In addition to the Hispanic Chamber, the city also has been in contact with the Small Business Development Center in Bakersfield for a possible workshop in the near future. The group, based out of Cal State Bakersfield, held a workshop this last year that was well attended and gave local business owners valuable information about how to grow your business, including marketing and creating a presence on social media, as well as how to go about financing a business venture.

“What we are looking at would build on that workshop, becoming a regular meeting that would be set up for our small businesses who may need advice on how to operate their business, as well as getting them in contact with the correct people and agencies to further their success,” Meadows said.

“The business landscape is looking up for Shafter when it comes to all phases of the business arena,” Meadows concluded.

Valley firm acquired by high-tech giant


  • OakGate Technology picked by Teledyne
  • “Teledyne LeCroy and OakGate serve similar customers ranging from silicon device suppliers to cloud storage operators”

Teledyne Technologies Incorporated (NYSE: TDY) of Thousand Oaks says its subsidiary, Teledyne LeCroy Inc., has acquired OakGate Technology Inc., which is based in the Sacramento suburb of Loomis.

OakGate makes software and hardware designed to test electronic data storage devices from development through manufacturing and end-use applications. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Teledyne LeCroy sells protocol analyzers for a wide range of digital communications standards, such as universal serial bus (USB), peripheral component interconnect express (pci express) and gigabit ethernet (GigE), that aid developers in finding and fixing persistent and intermittent errors and flaws in their product design. OakGate makes complementary software and hardware primarily focused on the test, validation and operating performance of solid state electronic storage media. Both companies’ tools are widely used across the semiconductor, data center and consumer electronics industries.

“Teledyne LeCroy and OakGate serve similar customers ranging from silicon device suppliers to cloud storage operators,” says Robert Mehrabian, executive chairman of Teledyne. “The acquisition of OakGate allows Teledyne to provide a complete set of software and hardware used from the design of new data storage devices to the use of such devices in hyperscale cloud storage networks.”

This California Farm Town Is Launching Startups Faster Than Seattle, Boston, and the Bay Area

By Guadalupe Gonzalez Staff reporter
Knowing little English, Rosibel Hurst came to the U.S. from Honduras dreaming of a medical career. She translated her nursing coursework using English-Spanish dictionaries. In 2018, Hurst’s Bakersfield beauty startup made $2 million–which gave her the courage to quit the full-time nursing job she’d kept to support her five-yearold company. “I’m finally going all in,” she says. “I’ll build the business every day and see where it takes me.”

Once a recurring punch line in Johnny Carson’s monologues, the agriculture-and-oil town of Bakersfield, California–home to the country’s most prolific carrot farm–is not the most obvious example of a West Coast startup hub.

But the Central Valley city, population 400,000, has vaulted onto this year’s Surge Cities list by outperforming 46 other metro areas–including the Bay Area, Boston, and Seattle–in net job and business creation in the past year.

“Incredible things are happening here,” says Irma Olguin Jr., co-founder and CEO of Bitwise Industries, a Fresno-based tech academy and software startup that’s helped create about 1,000 jobs in the area. It’s opening a Bakersfield location in 2020. “We’re seeing validation from VCs and investment banks, and there is a momentum around local revitalization.”

According to Anna Smith, co-founder of local real estate firm Sage Equities, this Bakersfield boom has been helped by entrepreneurial Millennials who’ve returned home from more expensive cities. They’re finding a growing tech community, bolstered by events like the 59-day hackathon led by nonprofit 59DaysofCode.

Maria Coward’s 27-year-old restaurant, La Costa Mariscos, serves authentic Puerto Vallartan seafood dishes in the city’s historic Ice House Building. She recently opened a second location across town.KAYLA REEFER

Latinx founders, whose ranks swelled by 36 percent from 2007 to 2012 in Bakersfield, have also been essential to the city’s evolution. Today, approximately three of every 10 companies in town are Latinx owned, and membership for Bakersfield’s Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has ballooned from 200 businesses to 1,200 in less than a decade.

Rosibel Hurst’s Bellissima Medical Aesthetics is one of 8,500 local Latinx-owned businesses. In 2014, the founder, who was born in Honduras, launched her beauty clinic, which offers procedures such as Botox injections and skin-tightening treatments, from a single room inside of a supportive doctor’s office. Today, Bellissima is profitable, with roughly $2 million in annual sales and 13 employees. “I was able to grow this company because of the help I got from people here,” she says. “Bakersfield is a giving city.”

As the field of startups grows in Bakersfield, so do the resources to sustain it. In 2018, Bakersfield businessman John-Paul Lake co-founded the city’s first angel investing firm, Kern Venture Group, and worked with the city’s community college to create Launchpad, which helps local entrepreneurs grow their businesses.

At Oasis Air Conditioning, founder Ben Dominguez and his 28 employees are expanding into the solar panel market to meet growing demand from the city’s homeowners.KAYLA REEFER

Originally created in Fresno to assist refugee farmers, loan fund Access Plus Capital has doled out 22 microloans worth more than $1.6 million to Bakersfield entrepreneurs since it began servicing the city in 2012.

“People are realizing that the Central Valley is changing,” says Edward Palomar, manager of the fund’s Bakersfield office, which opened in 2017. “They see the opportunity for growth here.”

Bitwise Industries Selects Merced as Newest City In Growing Tech Ecosystem

By Sara Sandrik

Tuesday, December 17, 2019 7:46PM

MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) — Fresno-based technology hub Bitwise Industries announced on Tuesday it is expanding to the North Valley.

Their building in the heart of downtown Merced at Main and M streets is vacant right now, but it will soon be transformed into the newest Bitwise facility.

Company representatives say this is the perfect location for many different reasons.

“For me, this is really exciting because it just looks like a blank canvas, and I can’t wait to create on it,” says Bitwise Executive Director of Growth Channelle Charest.

The space is the latest project for Bitwise Industries, which has multiple facilities in Fresno and recently expanded to Bakersfield.

The 6,500 square foot building will be used for the company’s three-prong approach to the world of technology.

It includes the Geekwise Academy, which provides coding classes for people from all backgrounds and Shift3, which cultivates local talent to develop custom software.

“Then there’s a component of play so actually building exciting spaces for students to come, for people to work in and for the community to experience as a whole,” says Charest.

Charest says Bitwise chose Merced in part because it’s home to a University of California campus and a large population of first-generation college students. The company is also excited to be downtown where several major revitalization projects are underway, including the El Capitan Hotel right across the street, and The Tioga apartments just one block away.

“It’s a good fit because you’re mixing old with new so you’re bringing innovation in with the restoration and making old new again, and that’s what we’ve been saying about downtown, it’s undergoing a renaissance,” says Merced Economic Development Director Frank Quintero.

Bitwise says this facility will include enough tenant space for six to eight companies and an entry retail space. It’s expected to open in 2021.

Central Valley Angels invest in cloud software

Central Valley Business Times

October 22, 2019


Take a position in Worksana’s parent company

  • “We believe in the concept”

The Central Valley Angel Group has added Worksana, a unit of Morro Bay-based Vendorver Inc., to its investment portfolio. Worksana is a cloud-based time system and mobile timetracking application designed for California labor law compliance. The software enables employers to track employees and manage resources more efficiently, the company saus.

“We believe in the concept and are convinced this is the management team to carry it forward, ” says Fund Chairman Emory Wishon. Worksana CEO and Co-Founder David Hergenroeder says the investment from Central Valley Angel Group “will help our company prosper in growth while in turn we help other businesses maintain efficiency and compliance with our solution.

” Formed in September 2015, Fresno-based Central Valley Angel Group is a $1 million+ fund whose members are accredited investors. It invests in high-growth, early-stage companies that are located within the region. In addition to making a return on its investments, the goal is to educate local Angel investors and create ongoing investment capital to help the Central Valley’s startup economy thereby retaining businesses and supporting job growth.