The German car manufacturer BMW and the Chinese technology company Baidu have signed a letter of intent for a strategic partnership. As a result, BMW will join the management board of Baidu's autonomous driving platform Apollo. It is still unclear how concrete the cooperation between the two companies will be. BMW said that the cooperation with Baidu is key to success and could speed up the alignment of technical approaches and specific requirements for autonomous driving.
On 5 July 2018, South Korean auto parts manufacturer Hyundai Mobis published the 2018 Sustainability Report revealing that in 2017, KRW 1.10tn (EUR 844.27mn USD 987.77mn) has been raised from sales of auto components used in fuel cell, electric and other green cars. The company's R&D expenses rose 8.6% year-on-year to KRW 770bn in 2017.
Meanwhile, its headcount grew 10% from 2016 to hit 2,715 personnel in 2017. By end-2018, the fleet of M.BILLY automatic test cars will be raised to 10 from three. The performance of these vehicles are to be tested in North America, South Korea and Europe. Within 2018, the firm also intends to have work on five new 360-degree sensors finalized. The sensors would be for self-driving vehicles which will be released by 2021 in a gradual manner.
A strategic cooperation has been formed by French auto parts maker Valeo and Chinese technology company Baidu on its open autonomous driving platform named Apollo, as revealed by Valeo on 4 July 2018. Advantages in software, hardware, data tools and other fields will be gained by Valeo through the collaboration. High definition mapping services, operating systems, high-precision positioning, simulation engines and cloud algorithms will be part of the areas. Besides leveraging Valeo's expertise in sensors, it will also contribute its skills in sensor cleaning systems. It plays a key role in the control and optimisation of air quality within the vehicle, optimal sensor functioning and connectivity between autonomous vehicles.
In 2018, tests will be carried out by SB Drive and Baidu on at least 10 Apolong autonomous buses in Japan. The Level 4 self-driving bus, which was jointly manufactured with Xiamen King Long United Automotive Industry, has no brake or accelerator pedal as well as steering wheel.
On 4 July 2018, volume manufacturing of the Apolong was initiated by Baidu. Apolong features Apollo artificial intelligence automated driving system. Autonomous buses will be deployed by SB Drive at Haneda Airport in Tokyo to cater to tourists and maintenance workers. SB Drive is a unit of Softbank.
On 4 July 2018, the newest Apollo 3.0 artificial intelligence (AI) platform of Chinese technology company Baidu was unveiled at the Baidu Create 2018 AI Developer Conference in Beijing to assist in the mass production of commercial self-driving vehicles. Baidu will look for industry partners while targeting applications in audio, smart devices and graphic recognition. Meanwhile, the Kunlun AI chip of Baidu is currently undergoing test manufacturing process or "taping out" stage. The mass production of the first L4-level autonomous mini bus featuring Baidu's Apollo AI platform is being conducted at King Long United Automotive Industry Co.
Jointly built by Chinese technology company Baidu and China-based commercial vehicle manufacturer King Long, a new self-driving bus of Baidu dubbed the Apolong would start mass production on 4 July 2018 at Baidu's Xiamen manufacturing plant in Fujian Province, along with the manufacturing of the 100th bus. Operating at a restricted speed between 20 and 40 kilometres per hour, the bus will operate in airports, scenic areas, industrial parks and other semi-enclosed and enclosed regions initially. Chen Weixiang, Vice Chief Technology Officer of King Long, revealed that the Apolong featured with a Baidu Apollo autonomous driving system is able to plan optimised routes by referring to smart sensing capability and high-definition maps. It is also able to forecast the movements of vehicles and pedestrians, and perceive its surroundings. The buses have undergone pilot operations in China's Fujian and Chongqing. Their demonstration operations will then be conducted in Chinese cities such as Beijing, Pingtan, Xiongan and Shenzhen. For coming days, the buses are expected to be sold to Japan.
A collaboration is being entered by Hyundai Motor with Autotalks of Israel. A strategic investment has been injected by the South Korea-based Hyundai in the Israeli firm. However, the sum of the investment was not announced. The main purpose of the partnership is to unveil connected car technology. In order to avoid hitting obstacles, it is vital for autonomous vehicles to be equipped with the vehicle-to-everything technology.
In the initial stage, attention will be paid by Autotalks and Hyundai Motor on launching communication chipsets dedicated to Hyundai Motor-manufactured connected vehicles. The vehicle-to-everything chipsets will be installed by the automaker in several businesses, namely smart city projects and autonomous driving.
The Spanish car parts company Grupo Antolin, which specialises in car interiors, has signed a EUR 100mn (USD 117mn) loan with the European Investment Bank (EIB) to finance its R+D+i projects between 2018 and 2020. The loan will be used to finance projects relating to self-driven vehicles, connected and electric vehicles and new mobility media such as car pooling and car sharing solutions. In total, Grupo Antolin is expected to invest EUR 900mn between 2017 and 2019, of which EUR 360mn will be invested in 2018, up 8% on 2017.
The fourth light intelligent vehicle of US-based Cenntro Automotive Group (Cenntro Automotive) namely the Metro II internet-connected electric truck debuted at the company's 2018 New Product Press Conference in China's Beijing on 26 June 2018, along with a readily-programmable self-driving logistic vehicle Caidou. The full recharge of the small-size Metro II requires only two hours. The truck is able to provide last one to 10-kilometre logistic solutions in urban areas, while its formidable loading capacity equivalent to eight-cubic metre space enables it to travel non-stop for 300 kilometres.
Researchers from the Chiba Institute of Technology in Japan have developed a three-wheeled robot that can be utilised as a personal mobility vehicle or a mobile assistant. CanguRo weighs 64kg and is equipped with artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities and an autonomous driving system. As an electric vehicle, the robot runs on an in-wheel driving unit provided by Nippon Thompson and can move at up to 10km per hour.
In October 2018, the city of Columbus in Ohio, US will be commencing an autonomous shuttle bus pilot around Downtown. The test came after the city won a Smart City Challenge in 2016, in which it received a USD 10mn (EUR 8.55mn) and USD 40mn grant from Paul G Allen Philanthropies and the US Department of Transportation, respectively. The pilot will be the first of a three-phase program and will operate along the Scioto Mile. The shuttle will have an approximate 12-passenger capacity. There will be an operator that will control the shuttle should there be issues. The shuttle bus service is slated to commence in December 2018 and proceed through 2019.
CEO of Baidu, Robin Li revealed that the first 100 tier-four driverless buses of the company have been completed. Co-developed by Baidu and bus maker King Long United Automotive Industry Co, each of them can fetch as many as 14 passengers. Li revealed the news during the Baidu AI Developer forum in Beijing, saying that those buses have no steering wheel. They will be deployed to serve cities like Tokyo, Shenzhen, Xiong'an and Beijing. At the same forum, Baidu also launched a new artificial intelligence (AI) chip named Kunlun. Apart from that, the search engine is also likely to unveil an updated version of its unmanned driving system, the Apollo 3.0 at the forum.
German automotive manufacturing company Continental plans to use radar sensors and cameras which were originally developed for the automotive industry to help reduce the number of serious or even fatal accidents in trail transport. They could be used to warn drivers or to apply brakes, especially with the advent of driverless rail vehicles.
South Korea expects to expend KRW 200bn (EUR 153.50mn USD 179.59mn) on smart rail stations by 2022 with KRW 17.1bn to be allocated for 2018 alone. The maiden fully operational autonomous trains in Seoul are expected to be found on Seoul Metro's Line 8 upon execution of the final stages of the line's driverless train system.
Seoul's Gunja station is the first to operate the driverless train system on 28 June 2018. A fourth test for autonomous trains is expected on 5 July 2018 after three tests were conducted on Line 8 in June 2018.
The head of the works council at German car firm Opel, Wolfgang Schäfer-Klug, has said that the workforce's mood is very negative after rumours that PSA is planning to sell the R&D centre. Workers were particularly annoyed that CEO Michael Lohscheller did not attend a works meeting to discuss the matter. According to the works council, three of the centre's units are up for sale, including vehicle development, drivetrain development and the test centre in Dudenhofen. Opel and PSA have said that strategic partners are being looked for and that no decisions have yet been made.
According to the Industrial Minister, Airlangga Hartarto, the ministry is partnering automobile maker, Toyota Motor Manufacturing and six higher learning institutions to carry our joint research and study. The comprehensive research and study will be on the phasing of electric car technology. The result of the study will be inputs for the government to help in the implementation of the electrical vehicle policy. The government is working towards achieving the target for 20% production of low carbon emission vehicle by 2025.
Renault Samsung Motors Co (Renault Samsung) became the sole foreign-invested firm to contribute to a South Korean public-private partnership initiative launched in 2008. As of 30 June 2018, the initiative has secured KRW 620bn (EUR 475.86mn USD 556.74mn) of fundings, with a goal to promote car component industry. On 4 July 2018, the French-Korean joint venture pledged to pour KRW 15bn into the fund. Also, Renault Samsung is to partner the Ministry of Small and Medium-Sized Ventures and Enterprises and other stakeholders to promote the initiative. Any company who teamed up with Renault Samsung for a joint development project is eligible to draw KRW 1bn from the fund. So far, Renault Samsung has worked with 23 South Koreans SMEs.
Vietnam's Ministry of Transport has given approval to technology firm FPT Software to conduct a trial run of an autonomous vehicle in Saigon Hi-Tech Park. The ministry has asked the company to work in collaboration with the authority of the Saigon Hi-Tech Park to test the autonomous vehicle in the interior areas of the industrial park and ensure traffic security in the park during the test. Additionally, FPT Software is required to report the test results to the ministry as well as prepare solutions for issues that might arise during the trial.
According to the survey of Finnish Transport Safety Agency (Trafi), every sixth Finn plans to transfer to use a car powered by alternative fuels within the next five years in Finalnd. A total of 74% of respondents considered as somewhat important of extremely important that the transportation transfers from petrol- or diesel-powered vehicles to low emission alternatives. Respondents are most interested in chargeable hybrid cars. However, the majority of the respondents is not ready to pay for low emission alternatives more than now. At the moment only 2% of respondents own low emission vehicles but 16% is planning to use them within the next five years. According to Chief Advisor Outi Ampuja of Trafi, based on the results, the popularity of low emission vehicles will increase strongly in the next few years. The share of low emission vehicles has increased to 5.7% in 2018 from 2% in the corresponding period in 2017. A total of 1,095 respondents participated in the survey conducted by Aula Research for Trafi.
On 27 June 2018, Baidu and Ford Motor (Ford) inked a letter of intent (LOI) to develop an in-vehicle infotainment system for Chinese customers. Baidu's DuerOS will be used to design system, featuring image recognition, natural language understanding and voice recognition capabilities. Concurrently, Ford and Baidu are to set up a joint laboratory for vehicle connectivity as well. The lab will research on the opportunities of Autonomic's Transportation Mobility Cloud, which is an open cloud-based platform. Autonomic is a subsidiary of Ford Smart Mobility. With cloud technology, vehicle can communicate with multiple players in the transportation ecosystem, Ford explained. Apart from R&D, the LOI also stipulated partnership in other areas like digital marketing and big data application.
According to reports, French vehicle manufacturer PSA is looking to sell part of its German subsidiary Opel's development centre in Rüsselsheim, Germany. It is believed that Opel and PSA have already explored the possibility of selling part of Opel's business to engineering services providers, such as Germany's Bertrandt and France's Altran. Some 4,000 engineers out of total 7,000 at Opel work at the site in Rüsselsheim. A spokesperson at Opel declared that all company's cars will continue to be developed at the engineering centre in Rüsselsheim, where all the activities of the 15 competence centres of the entire PSA group will be bundled.
US electric car maker Tesla has stopped conducting standard brake tests for its Model 3 electric sedans. The number of cars that have already exited the Fremont facility without undergoing testing is currently unknown. The tests are done to ensure perfect alignment of the car's wheels and functionality of the brakes before going out to customers. According to auto industry expert Ron Harbour, the absence of the tests could bring about quality issues. The company halted the tests as it scrambles to meet the production deadline of the sedans.
During an interview in Changshu city, the President of Jaguar Land Rover-Chery Automobile's China joint venture Murray Dietsch said that Jaguar mulls developing electric vehicle in the country using local manufacturing capacity. Details will be revealed during the coming 12 months. Dietsch elaborated that in the coming 36 to 60 months, Jaguar's operation in China will be concentrating on preparation for policy changes that set a target for new-energy vehicle sales of 7mn a year by 2025. The joint venture has also been working with battery manufacturer Contemporary Amperex Technology Co to develop car battery. Now, Jaguar has already producing its gasoline-powered E-Pace compact premium crossover locally in China.
According to information from newspaper Le Monde, French vehicle manufacturer PSA is looking to sell a large part of Opel's research and development centre as part of its efforts to set this subsidiary to rights. This centre has been presented as the pearl of Opel and the guarantor of its 'made in Germany' engineering identity. PSA and Opel have reportedly surveyed several automotive engineering companies as prospective buyers, namely French firms Segula, Altran and Akka, as well as Bertrandt of Germany. Negotiations with Altran seem particularly advanced. According to a source close to the governing bodies of PSA, a project for the sale of part of Opel's R&D centre is in the pipeline, but only concerns a quarter of the workforce (8,000 employees in total). A document dated mid-May 2018 reveals that PSA aims to offer the prospective buyer four sectors of activity: vehicle engineering, propulsion engineering, tool & die operations and the test centre. These divisions currently employ 3,980 workers and the total value of these assets is estimated at EUR 500mn (USD 584.99mn), including EUR 380mn related to human resources. According to the document, the sale could take place by the end of 2018, subject to negotiations with the social partners. Opel has stated that after the operation, it would agree to provide compensation to the buyer for two years if all of the employees are retained.
A Polish artisanal car firm run by two rally drivers is to unveil a modified version of the Porsche 911 at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in the UK. The car, known as the Homa RS, has an adjustable suspension so that it can be used on roads as a regular car or on a track as a racing car. The car is also more reliable for daily use than the usual Porsche 911.
People will be able to use the Litacka card, which is the public transport electronic ticket card for the Czech capital Prague, to charge electric cars and bikes at Prazska Energetika (PRE) charging stations throughout the city. However, to use the card in this way holders must also have signed a contract for the use of PRE charging stations, of which 70 currently exist, although more are due to be built. Users will be invoiced for the cost of the charging, with the card acting only as an identifier.
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