Japan's private and public sectors have been collaborating for the development of three-dimensional (3-D) maps that would help make self-driving technology more precise. By March 2019, it is probable that those maps will be utilized for all highways and expressways for automobiles that have lengths of some 30,000 kilometers in both directions. The 3-D map development is being promoted by Zenrin, the main map publisher, public-private fund Innovation Network of Japan and Dynamic Map Platform.
Among the entities that the maps would be sold to include makers of automobiles. Autonomous cars can operate at a safe speed and avoid crashing into the roadside through the integration of data based on global positioning system and 3-D maps. The development of 3-D maps for autonomous cars on normal roads in the future is also being eyed by Dynamic Map Platform.
The German car hire firm Sixt has emphasised the necessity of full 5G coverage in Germany for the future. This will be essential for self-driving cars. The firm's director of strategy Alexander Sixt said that Germany's 4G network is only the 70th best in the world, behind Macedonia, Iran and Albania. He said that this has to change if self-driving cars are to be realistic in Germany, and added that they have to be able to work in rural as well as urban areas. The Federal Chancellor's Office has said that full 5G coverage would be unbelievably expensive.
An annual sharing economy index by insurance provider Allianz Global Assistance has found that 43% of people in the US are interested in using self-driving cars, compared with 53% in 2017. The declining interest has been attributed to bad publicity, lack of familiarity, cost and safety concerns. Compared with 64% in 2017, only 52% said they are confident that the self-driving car technology will be developed safely enough for them to exchange their conventional vehicles.
A number of companies, including Ford and Vodafone, have joined forces for testing partially autonomous driving in the German city of Düsseldorf. One test is for a driver assistance system that is supposed to make it easier to create emergency lanes. This works with a signal sent by the emergency vehicle or a police car. Drivers receive a message on their display which urges them to move their vehicle. The second test is for E-Call Plus. It works with the automated emergency call systems which are now mandatory in new vehicles. Rather than alerting only emergency services in the event of an accident, E-Call Plus also sends a message to vehicles approaching the location where the accident occurred, so that mass collisions are avoided.
An image-compression technology has been created by Japan-based Fujitsu to scale down the images to 0.1% of the original size. This will boost self-driving system's precision. The auto sector is being developed by Fujitsu where this includes car sharing, self-driving cars, electric vehicles, and networked cars to become one of its primary business. The usual data compression ratio was 80-to-1 but the new algorithm decreases this to 1,000-to-1. Additionally, specific images can be requested by data centers when cars reach intersections and signals.
Mando, an automotive parts manufacturer of South Korea, has unveiled its new MGH-100 electronic brake system (EBS). The MGH-100 is part of Mando's electronic stability control (ESC) system designed for preventing a car from losing control from over-steering or skidding, and a core module to the company's electronic brakes and autonomous vehicles. The product functions as an anti-lock brake system that decreases skidding while braking to improve driving safety. It has over 40 functions that are required in autonomous driving, which includes adaptive cruise control (ACC) and autonomous emergency braking (AEB). Over 20,000 units of MGH-100 has been supplied by Mando to China-based car maker South East Motor and other finished car manufacturers that include Geely, SAIC GM, Changan Auto in China and South Korea's Ssangyong Motor. Mando also targets to begin manufacturing the MGH-100 in Mexico, Brazil and India to beef up its total production capacity to 3mn units by 2020 and 5mn by 2021.
Traton, the commercial vehicle division of German automotive supplier Volkswagen, is expanding its existing partnership with China-based CNHTC Group. CNHTC is planning a joint venture of Traton's Man brand and Chinese truck manufacturer Sinotruk to develop a heavy truck for the Chinese market. Other cooperation opportunities are powertrain, electrification, autonomous driving and buses. MAN currently holds a 25% stake plus one share in Sinotruk.
US provider of braking control systems WABCO has entered into an agreement with Chinese truck manufacturer FAW Jiefang to form a new joint venture for vehicle control systems in China. The agreement, which will advance the efficiency and safety of commercial vehicles in China, will also boost WABCO's single-piston air disc brake (ADB) technology leadership in the country. The new joint venture will begin with the manufacturing of WABCO's MAXXTM single-piston ADB in 2019. The joint venture's main focus will be on heavy-duty trucks owing to WABCO's expertise in single-piston ADB technology for 30,000 Nm applications, which offer high standards of reliability, reliability and performance. The companies are also planning to partner on advanced braking systems development in the segments of active safety systems, autonomous driving, and fleet management systems (FMS) to support commercial vehicle producers in China.
A self-driving bus is to carry passengers from the station to the industrial area in Contern, Luxembourg. Initially it will drive a 2km route, which is to be expanded to 4km in October 2018. The initial test phase will be for three months. The bus can carry 14 passengers and has approval to use the roads. It can travel at 45km per hour but will only travel at half this speed. There will always be someone on board who can intervene in case of problems, as is required by law. The bus is a public-private partnership between Sales-Lentz, the council of Contern, Campus Contern and Business Club Contern; the council has provided EUR 10,000 (USD 11,630.89) in funding.
The Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) and the US State of Michigan will partner on automotive technology, especially on self-driving vehicles. Wang Zhigang, the Science and Technology Minister, and Rick Synder, the US state governor entered into a memorandum of partnership on automotive technology on 17 September 2018. Both governments will have to work on intellectual property issues, according to Rick Synder. The delegation led by Rick Synder will hold discussion on mobility technology, manufacturing, tourism and agriculture exports with Chinese officials and business leaders during the visit of Rick Synder to China.
By early 2019, Chinese autonomous driving start-up Pony.ai plans to increase its robotaxi fleet from 20 to over 200. At a gradual pace, there will be 100 new driverless cars added to both China and the US respectively. According to James Peng, co-founder and Chief Executive of Pony.ai, the greater fleet will ensure the overall stability and reliability of the self-driving system while paving way for commercialisation.
The German automotive supplier ZF Friedrichshafen (ZF) is planning to invest over EUR 12bn (USD 13.96bn) in e-mobility and autonomous driving over the next five years. According to the company, soon intelligent networked commercial vehicles could carry out their own logistics tasks or assist drivers and parcel deliverers. ZF believes that autonomous driving will prevail faster in the commercial vehicle segment as it would reduce operating costs of vehicles as well as safety and efficiency. According to CEO Wolf-Henning Scheider, such a vehicle should be ready for production in the next two years.
Developed by China-based HanKaiSi Intelligent Technology Co (HanKaiSi), Japanese software company Tier IV Inc and US online educational organisation Udacity Inc, the first training base for self-driving technology engineers in the world was unveiled in China's Guizhou province on 17 September 2018 to cope with the talent shortage in the industry. Resources of HanKaiSi relating to the PIX self-driving project will be shared by the company with the base, as revealed by Yu Chuan, CEO of HanKai-Si.
Starting 18 September 2018, the first batch of 15 chosen candidates, with most of them from artificial intelligence, self-driving and vehicle engineering sectors, will join the five-day classroom-based courses. Yu added that besides attending online self-driving courses, the candidates can also test their self-driving code on real vehicles for better leverage of the technologies as well as to fully understand the principles. Guidance is provided by seasoned research and development advisers. On the other hand, a 20-kilometre Big Data Demonstration Avenue road with combination of a set of advanced technological elements is planned to be developed by the government of Guiyang, capital of Guizhou, according to Zhang Yu, Deputy Director of Guiyang High Tech Zone, adding that it intends to unveil licence plates and rules for testing connected vehicles.
CCTV revealed that Q-Truck, a cab-less electric self-driving heavy truck fully built in China, was launched in Shanghai on 13 September 2018. With a maximum gradeability, a maximum load of 80 tons can be achieved by the vehicle while being able to climb slopes. The truck adopting intelligent autonomous driving platform for different road conditions is predicted to cost only CNY 102 (EUR 12.77 USD 14.85) for 100 kilometres on average. Only two hours are required for a quick charge of 100%. Besides featuring multiple industrial-level sensors and visual cameras, the truck has also been verified to be capable of keeping sound performance a variety of operating environments. Regardless of stormy or dry weather, the truck still performs steadily from minus 35 degrees Celsius to 60 degrees Celsius. Full coverage is made available as the truck adopts multi-sensor fusion technology by utilising minimum two sets of sensors in a 360-degree range. Detection is able to be made at the furthest distance of 150 metres. For coming days, two truck models of low and high speeds to be applicable on multi-scene transport and operation, cargo in bulk, ore and others can be looked forward to.
Norwegian public transport authority Ruter and Danish company Autonomous Mobility have signed a partner agreement concerning the testing of self-driving buses in Oslo and Akershus in Norway. Endre Angelvik, Director of Mobility Services in Ruter, believes the first buses can be put into traffic in late 2018 or early 2019. Initially, this will be a three-year test project and in 2021 there can be up to 50 such buses in the region. Ruter will cooperate with Oslo Municipality and the Norwegian Public Roads Administration (Statens vegvesen) to complete the project.
Technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), drones, robots and self-driving vehicles, are expected to create 38% more jobs at around 90mn by 2037, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers. Meanwhile, machines are expected to take over around 26% of existing work roles in the country. Net gain in the job creation could reach 12%. Services sector is expected to post the highest net gain in job creation at 29%, followed by construction sector at 23%. Agriculture sector is likely to post about 10% net job losses.
French automotive company Groupe PSA has started demonstrating its latest LTE-V2X vehicle communication technology in Wuxi, China. These demonstrations represent the start of a series of field trials to be conducted by Groupe PSA in China for Intelligent Connected Vehicles. The V2X demonstration area in Wuxi is among the main pilot projects supported by the Chinese government. The project overs 170sq km city area, 226 road intersections, more than 600 communication base stations, 13 typical scenarios and over 100,000 commercial users. The LTE-V2X project is slated to be implemented from 2017 to 2020, in three phases. LTE-V2X technology is a wireless communication solution created for both autonomous driving and intelligent connected vehicles. During the expo, the company will showcase its latest LTE-V2X technology created separately with both wireless technology company Qualcomm Technologies and Chinese network equipment company Huawei. The demonstrations will include Groupe PSA's SUV models, Citroën C5 Aircross, Peugeot 4008 and DS 7 Crossback. The DS cars will be fitted with Huawei's solution based on C-V2X while the Citroen and Peugeot cars will be fitted with the Qualcomm 9150 C-V2X chipset solution. These demonstrations are being conducted separately, with real use cases presenting how LTE-V2X technology operates in different traffic scenarios. Groupe PSA's fleets, fitted with the LTE-V2X devices, will be able to receive real-time traffic information from incoming fleets or pedestrians and traffic signals, as well as communicate with infrastructures near the road.
The government in Germany is to create a national platform for the future of mobility, which will work as an advisory body for issues in relation to road transport, such e-mobility and self-driving vehicles, as well as the reduction of CO2 emissions. At the same time the national platform for electro mobility (NPE) will be discontinued. NPE's boss Henning Kagermann will be appointed as the head of the new platform, once it is launched.
The world's first driverless school shuttle will be tested in Babcock Ranch, Florida in fall 2018. Operated by France-based public transport company Transdev, the EasyMile Easy10 Gen II is an electricity shuttle with a top speed of 12mph. It is also equipped with automatic braking that has a 30-time faster reaction time than a human driver and will have a safety attendant on-board. The shuttle will run on a pre-set route from a designated pick-up location and transport as many as 12 children attending the Babcock Neighborhood School.
Automotive manufacturer Renault presented its delivery robots, EZ-PRO, at the IAA Commercial Vehicles Trade Fair in Hanover, Germany on 19 September 2018. There are two types of EZ-PRO autonomous vehicle. The first is built to hold a human concierge, who can control the vehicle using a joystick, as well as merchandise. During the automatic driving phase, the concierge is free to handle other tasks. The second type is driverless and carries merchandise in separate lockers, which can be opened using a smartphone. The vehicles can run 24 hours a day, which increases cost efficiency. According to Director of Advanced Strategy for Utility Vehicles Philippe Divine, last-mile delivery will become a growing issue for merchandise transport as e-commerce and urban delivery continue to develop. While Divine affirms that completely autonomous vehicles will not be in cities in the near future, they can be seen in sites like plants and airports.
EasyMile, a Toulouse-based designer of driverless electric passenger shuttles built by Ligier, has raised another EUR 6.50mn (USD 7.56mn) from Bpifrance, bringing the total sum raised by the company to EUR 34mn after the investments made by Alstom and Continental Automotive (EUR 13.50mn each) during 2017 in order to acquire a stake in the business. With these funds, EasyMile will recruit 50 engineers by the end of 2019 in order to improve its autonomous systems and apply them to industrial vehicles in addition to its EZ10 shuttles that can transport up to 15 people at 20 km per hour. Ligier has created a dedicated production chain for the manufacture of 50 EZ10 shuttles in 2018, while there are 80 EasyMile autonomous shuttles currently being tested around the world. The company is also developing a stand-alone baggage tractor for airport vehicle manufacturer TLD Group, which will be marketed at airports and industrial sites in 2019, and is studying an autonomous tramway project with Alstom. Its other plans include a 12-metre bus for Iveco, as well as private vehicles. The start-up has doubled its workforce in two years and achieved a turnover of EUR 7.20mn in 2017, but expects to reach EUR 18mn in 2018 with the delivery of 50 autonomous shuttles. The firm hopes to sell 80 to 100 vehicles in 2019, although its the growth will be driven by industrial vehicles.
Volkswagen (VW) has defended its planned cooperation for commercial vehicle development with Ford, which has caused worry amongst its personnel. Thomas Sedran of Volkswagen Nutzfahrzeuge (VWN) said that margins and sales volumes of each model are falling, meaning that the development costs for each individual vehicle are rising. The cooperation plan was prompted by new EU regulations from 2021 which will make emissions limits for cars much stricter. As a result VW is to develop its vans on a different platform to its cars; VW vans are to be redeveloped by 2024. The works council is worried that this will mean that the next van model in 2024 will be produced in the Ford van factory in Turkey. Sedran emphasised that it is the company's aim to continue to build a van model in Hanover. He also said that it was unlikely that cars and vans would be produced together again after 2025; it is unlikely to be possible to be able to build vans out of the electric parts expected for cars. Asked whether the electric bus ID Buzz could be the basis for electric vans, Sedran said that it was impossible to say whether vans would have combustion engines or be electric by 2028 or 2030.
US electronic components provider Arrow Electronics has announced plans to establish a 'Colorado Open Lab' dedicated to smart city technology in Centennial, Colorado. The lab is currently in design phase and is scheduled to open sometime in the spring. It will be located on the ground floor of the company's corporate headquarters in Centennial. Working with the 19 Colorado agencies and municipalities that, along with a collection of research institutions, universities and private businesses make up the Colorado Smart Cities Alliance, Arrow plans to use the lab as a place to display ideas such as smart parking, connected, automated vehicles, and data-driven smart street lighting. US technology firm Intel will be part of the Open Lab ecosystem. It aims to use the space to study a new IEEE global edge-computing standard called Ambient Science.
Japanese automaker Suzuki Motor (Suzuki) will launch trial runs for its first electric car model in India during October 2018. Tests such as performance will be conducted on around 50 prototype electric cars. The first electric model will be based on the Wagon R minicar. Sales of the electric cars are expected to commence around 2020. Suzuki will expand electric car lineup after launching smaller models in the market.
On 12 September 2018, internal sources from Mazda Motor (Mazda) leaked that the automaker will launch its first diesel-engine hybrid vehicle in 2020. The model will first be introduced in its home country of Japan and the Europe. Mazda is reportedly to develop the diesel hybrid based on its CX-5 crossover, before launching more them especially SUVs. The diesel hybrid will be developed solely on its own without the help from its partner Toyota. Mazda is to adopt a system named "mild hybrid", which features a small motor and a 48-volt battery. As compared to Mazda's current diesel engine, "mild hybrid" cuts the fuel consumption by 10% and increases mileage of the vehicle by about 20%. However, Mazda's strategy to launch diesel-engine hybrid comes amid a declining share of diesel vehicle sales in Europe after the Volkswagen emissions scandal. Of all cars sold in 18 Western European countries in 2011, 56% of them run on diesel; but the ratio plunged to 37% as of 30 June 2018. Looking ahead, IHS Markit forecasts that share of diesel vehicles sold across the world will tumble by around 40% as compared to 2017, to 10.67mn cars by 2030. With the move, Mazda shows that it is willing to do things independently even it means going against the trend.
The German vehicle maker Daimler has opened its new test and technology centre in Immendingen, Germany. The firm will initially employ 300 workers at the new facility. In the long-term around 1,000 workers are expected to be employed at the new centre.
Czech car manufacturer Skoda Auto has previously stated that it plans to invest around EUR 2bn (USD 2.33bn) into development of alternatively powered vehicles and new mobility services in the next few years. With new hybrid and electric vehicles, Skoda plans to comply with EU's new emission limits. In the first quarter of 2019, customers can pre-order the first electric version of Citigo, with serial production to be launched in the third quarter of 2019. The Citigo e-model will be able to run for around 300km per charge. At the end of 2020, a new e-car based on the Vision E concept will be launched, with double the distance per charge of Citigo.
South Korean vehicles manufacturer Kia Motors has picked Ecuador for altitude tests on its vehicles, because of its geography. Vehicles that will be sold in the country and elsewhere in the Andean region will be tested in Ecuador first.
South Korea's first short-range radar for autonomous vehicles has been developed by local vehicle parts maker Hyundai Mobis. This type of radar is integrated with blind-spot collision warning system of vehicles. The company used independent technology to develop the radar. Starting from 2020, the radars will be supplied to local car makers. Also, the firm intends to design all four variants of radars for autonomous vehicles by 2018.
Hologram firm WayRay of Switzerland has partnered with South Korean car maker Hyundai Motor to help the Korean firm in creating hologram-based augmented reality (AR) navigation and other infotainment features. According to Hyundai Motor, AR navigation will be projected on the whole front windscreen or a head-up display. The cooperation with WayRay will enable the Korean car maker to equip its mass manufacturing cars with AR navigation beyond 2020.
German automotive supplier Continental is developing a system that creates a model of the vehicle's environment from sensor data. Perception of the vehicle's environment and its evaluation are prerequisites for driver assistance functions and automated driving. Continental's intelligent control unit, the assisted and automated driving control unit (ADCU), collects, evaluates and interprets data from sensors such as camera, radar and lidar and combines it with additional information such as the road ahead. Continental can respond very flexibly to individual customer requirements and adapt the system to what and how much information is incorporated into the environment model. Continental is aiming for the commercial vehicle market in Europe, the US and Asia.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed between Belgian vehicle control system supplier, Wabco and French automotive supplier, Valeo. In an effort to design and industrialise next generation Advanced Driver Assistance Systems and other sensors technologies for aiding the development of advanced autonomous vehicles, Valeo will develop and provide enhanced mid and short-range sensors including solid-state LiDAR and 77GHz radar to Wabco, under the deal. Wabco's advanced urban turning driver assistance system, OnCityALERT will be the first solution to avail 77GHz radar technology offered by Valeo to facilitate continuous monitoring of blind-spots on the vehicle's passenger side, even in conditions with lesser visibility. The one-box OnCityALERT driver assistance solution could be deployed at the factory and will also be available in retrofit kit for easy deployment over an extensive range of bus and truck platforms.
German automotive firms Continental and Knorr-Bremse are to work on developing a complete system solution for highly-automated driving (HAD) for commercial vehicles of every size. The partnership includes all functions of driver assistance and highly-automated driving, such as area recognition, driving planning and driving decisions, steering and braking. Initially the partnership will look at automated platooning. The firms are planning to be able to demonstrate a platoon of three lorries from different manufacturers by the beginning of 2019. Frank Jourdan of Continental said that automation provided significant opportunities to make transport more efficient and safer.
German car maker Volkswagen (VW) is intending to start training software developers in early 2019. The programme is aimed at VW employees and university dropouts and the company said that hundreds of people will receive the training over the next few years. Trainees will be paid EUR 1,135 (USD 1,335.04) per month. The first group will complete the course in 2021 and the absolvents will get a permanent role at VW. In 2017 the company wants to recruit 400 IT staff in Germany.
Automaker Toyota Motor (Toyota) of Japan has decided to end use of Ford Motor's SmartDeviceLink as a platform to connect its cars to infotainment systems provided by Apple and Google of the US. In January 2018, Toyota announced that Apple's CarPlay system can be used directly in its cars. Meanwhile, an announcement regarding direct use of Google's Android Auto system in Toyota cars is expected to be made in October 2018. SmartDeviceLink controls smartphone's access to car information as well as provides its own dashboard for display of features offered by these infotainment systems.
PSA has launched a second test with autonomous vehicle manufacturer EasyMile at its production site in Sochaux, eastern France. The objective is to automate part of the logistics flow in the context of the Sochaux 2022 transformation plan. PSA and EasyMile used the first test to create a better adapted, connected route for the autonomous vehicle. EasyMile has delivered the TractEasy autonomous tractor, to be used for the transport of material. The vehicle detects and reacts to the presence of other vehicles while carrying up to 25 tonnes and reaching speeds of 25 km/h. The TractEasy will run on a 3 km path that connects the Peugeot 3008 assembly workshop and the suppliers industrial area. Following this second test, PSA plans to integrate two autonomous tractors into the site starting in the first quarter 2019. In the long term, all of the parts will be delivered by autonomous vehicle. Finally, Bpifrance announced that it would invest EUR 6.50mn (USD 7.56mn) in EasyMile on 17 September 2018.
Agencies under Omnicom Media Group (Omnicom) namely PHD, Adylic and Annalect have came together and formed a new unit called Engine, which will be helping Volkswagen (VW) to create a global data analytic platform. Engine will start operating in the last quarter of 2018 and use anonymous data generated by people researching cars online. With this, VW is hoping to reach potential car buyers at various stages during their purchase. Specialists from PHD, Adylic and Annalect will provide their expertises in performance reporting, dynamic creative, audience building and technical operations, while PHD will be managing the unit. Team members will be stationed in four regional hubs separately in Miami, Singapore, New York and London. They will be working with local VW and PHD programmatic buy-optimisation teams for their campaigns there. Operation of Engine has been tested in Spain, France and Italy, which saw efficiency and effectiveness skyrocketed between 30% and 300%. Headquartered in New York, Omnicom is a global advertising, marketing and corporate communications company.
An investment has been made into Canada-based software-as-a-service and technology platform provider Mojio by Assurant, a US-based niche market specialty insurer. Mojio offers a cloud platform for mobile network operators and automakers seeking to build connected car services and features a machine learning and data analytics component. The collaboration should enable both companies to capitalize on their "complementary capabilities", said Bob Lonergan, Chief Strategy Officer of Assurant.
Franco-Japanese automotive alliance Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance and US technology firm Google have entered into a technology partnership to add the Android operating system in vehicles sold by the alliance. The system will provide intelligent infotainment and customer focused-applications across several brands and models from 2021. The vehicles will use the Android operating system and will provide turn-by-turn navigation using Google Maps. The system will provide access to automotive apps on the Google Play Store as well as the ability to answer texts and calls, control media, search for information and manage vehicle functions with voice commands using the Google Assistant. Google applications and services will be integrated into the cloud-based and infotainment system of the vehicles. The partnership is part of the Alliance's move to equip more vehicles with cloud-based services and connectivity as part of the 2022 mid-term plan of the Alliance. The plan also includes the launch of 12 new zero-emission electric vehicles, the Alliance Intelligent Cloud and new autonomous-driving technologies. The platform will integrate data management, over-the-air upgrades, infotainment systems and remote diagnostics in vehicles of the Alliance member companies. The system will also be compatible with devices using other operating systems like the Apple iOS.
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