[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]
Mercedes-Benz gets on the CASE with Generation EQ close-to-production electric concept
September 29, 2016
At the Paris Motor Show, Mercedes-Benz unveiled its close-to-production concept Generation EQ electric vehicle—the forerunner of Mercedes-Benz’s new product brand for electric mobility, EQ. The name EQ stands for “Electric Intelligence” and is derived from the Mercedes-Benz brand values of “Emotion and Intelligence”.
Dr Dieter Zetsche, CEO of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes‑Benz Cars, said that the mobility of the future at Mercedes-Benz will stand on four pillars: Connected, Autonomous, Shared and Electric (CASE), adding that Mercedes-Benz has formed a CASE team. The Generation EQ is the logical fusion of all four pillars, he said.
NVIDIA introduces Xavier AI supercomputer designed for autonomous driving
At the inaugural GPU Technology Conference Europe, NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang unveiled Xavier, an all-new AI supercomputer designed for use in self-driving cars. Xavier is a complete system-on-chip (SoC), integrating a new GPU architecture called Volta, a custom 8-core CPU architecture, and a new computer vision accelerator.
The processor will deliver 20 TOPS (trillion operations per second) of performance while consuming only 20 watts of power. As the brain of a self-driving car, Xavier is designed to be compliant with critical automotive standards, such as the ISO 26262 functional safety specification.
Volkswagen unveils I.D. EV concept; 1st MEB-based vehicle, to launch in 2020; up to 373 miles
September 28, 2016
At the Paris Motor Show, Volkswagen staged the world premiere of the I.D., a concept vehicle presaging the first of a new fleet of Volkswagen electric cars and highlighting Volkswagen’s vision for the future in a number of areas, including autonomous driving and a new Open Space concept for the interior.
The compact I.D. is driven by a 125 kW electric motor powered by a battery pack, and has a range of 400 - 600 km (249 - 373 miles) under European test conditions. I.D. will be the first Volkswagen built off the Modular Electric Drive kit (MEB). The production version of the I.D. is due to be launched in 2020 at a price on a par with comparably powerful and well-equipped Golf models. The I.D. concept car at the show further demonstrates a concept of autonomous driving for the year 2025.
NVIDIA and TomTom developing cloud-to-car mapping system for self-driving cars; DRIVE PX 2
NVIDIA and TomTom, the Dutch mapping and navigation group, are partnering to develop artificial intelligence to create a cloud-to-car mapping system for self-driving cars.
The work combines TomTom’s extensive HD map coverage, which already spans more than 120,000 km (75,000 miles) of highways and freeways, with the NVIDIA DRIVE PX 2 computing platform (earlier post). Together, the solution accelerates support for real-time in-vehicle localization and mapping for driving on the highway.
HERE unveils next-generation open platform real-time data services for automotive industry
On the eve of the Paris Motor Show, HERE, the high-definition mapping and location services business company acquired by Audi, BMW and Daimler (earlier post), announced next-generation vehicle-sourced data services. The HERE Open Location Platform will harness real-time data generated by the on-board sensors of connected vehicles—even from competing car brands—to create a live depiction of the road environment.
Drivers will be able to access this view of the road through four services that provide information on traffic conditions, potential road hazards, traffic signage and on-street parking at high quality. The goal is to ensure that drivers have more accurate and timely information with which they can make better driving decisions. HERE plans to make the services commercially available to any customers both within and outside the automotive industry from the first half of 2017.
DOT issues Federal Policy for safe testing and deployment of highly automated vehicles (SAE levels 3-5)
September 20, 2016
The US Department of Transportation issued Federal policy for highly automated vehicles (HAVs)—i.e., SAE Levels 3-5 vehicles with automated systems that are responsible for monitoring the driving environment as defined by SAE J3016.
Although the primary focus of the Federal Automated Vehicle Policy is on highly automated vehicles, or those in which the vehicle can take full control of the driving task in at least some circumstances, portions of the policy also apply to lower levels of automation, including some of the driver-assistance systems already being deployed by automakers today. The newly released policy embodies four key elements:
OmniVision introduces OV491 and OV495 companion chips for automotive image processing applications
September 19, 2016
OmniVision Technologies, Inc., a developer of advanced digital imaging solutions, is introducing the OV491 and OV495, two new companion chips that deliver performance and advanced features in combination with OmniVision’s portfolio of automotive RAW image sensors.
The OV491 is a compact image signal processor (ISP) companion chip specified to enable best-in-class image quality in surround view system architectures. The OV495 contains the same ISP features but is also equipped with electronic distortion and perspective correction, making it suited for rear video mirror and camera monitor system (CMS) applications. The OV491 and OV495 are both compatible with OmniVision’s OV2775, OV10650, and OV10640 automotive image sensors.
Ford embeds researchers in new U-M robotics lab to accelerate autonomous vehicle research
September 16, 2016
Ford and the University of Michigan are teaming up to accelerate autonomous vehicle research and development with a first-time arrangement that embeds Ford researchers and engineers into a new state-of-the-art robotics laboratory on U-M’s Ann Arbor campus.
While the new robotics laboratory opens in 2020, by the end of this year Ford will move a dozen researchers into the North Campus Research Complex (NCRC), kicking off the first phase of expanded presence.
Renesas to acquire Intersil for ~$3.2B; looking to lead in automotive, industrial, IoT system solutions
September 14, 2016
Renesas Electronics Corporation, a premier supplier of advanced semiconductor solutions, and Intersil Corporation, a leading provider of innovative power management and precision analog solutions, signed a definitive agreement for Renesas to acquire Intersil for US$22.50 per share in cash, representing an aggregate equity value of approximately US$3.2 billion. The transaction has been unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both companies. Closing of the transaction is expected in the first half of 2017, following approval by Intersil shareholders and the relevant governmental authorities.
Together, Renesas’ and Intersil’s deep expertise across a number of technologies and end markets will enable the combined company to become a complete solution provider of embedded systems to customers. By combining Renesas’ market-proven microcontroller (MCU) and system-on-chip (SoC) products and technologies and Intersil’s leading power management and precision analog capability, Renesas will be well positioned to address some of the most exciting opportunities in key areas such as automotive, industrial, cloud computing, healthcare, and the Internet of Things (IoT).
NVIDIA unveils single-processor configuration of DRIVE PX 2 for AutoCruise functions; Baidu deploying
September 13, 2016
NVIDIA unveiled a single-processor configuration of the NVIDIA DRIVE PX 2 AI computing platform (earlier post) that automakers can use to power automated and autonomous vehicles for driving and mapping.
The new computing platform for AutoCruise functions—which include highway automated driving and HD mapping—consumes just 10 watts of power and enables vehicles to use deep neural networks to process data from multiple cameras and sensors. It will be deployed by China’s Baidu as the in-vehicle car computer for its self-driving cloud-to-car system.
Tesla leans on radar for Autopilot in Version 8 software
September 12, 2016
With the release of Version 8 of its software, Tesla has made many updates to its Autopilot function. The most significant change however, is its new heavy reliance on the onboard radar. The radar was added to all Tesla vehicles in October 2014 as part of the Autopilot hardware suite, but originally was only meant to be a supplementary sensor to the primary camera and image processing system.
Now, however, Tesla is using more advanced signal processing to use the radar as a primary control sensor without requiring the camera to confirm visual image recognition. The changes come in the wake of the fatal crash (earlier post) in which Autopilot apparently did not detect the white side of the trailer against a brightly lit sky; nor did the driver. As a result, no brake was applied. In the aftermath of that incident, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted that the company was “Working on using existing Tesla radar by itself (decoupled from camera) w temporal smoothing to create a coarse point cloud, like lidar”. (Earlier post.)
DENSO looks to increase holding in FUJITSU TEN, making it a group company
September 10, 2016
Auto parts supplier DENSO Corporation, Fujitsu Limited, and Toyota Motor Corporation have reached a basic agreement to start consideration of changing the capital structure of automotive electronics manufacturer FUJITSU TEN, in which the three companies have stakes. DENSO is part of the Toyota Group.
In the automotive field, the interface between the driver and vehicle is becoming increasingly important due to remarkable technological innovations. Against this backdrop, DENSO has agreed with Fujitsu and Toyota to review specific changes to make FUJITSU TEN a group company of DENSO and to enhance cooperation between the two companies in developing in-vehicle ECUs, millimeter-wave radar (earlier post), advanced driver assistance / automated driving technologies, and basic electronic technologies, among others.
NSF awards $4.6M to improve human control of automated cars, drones
September 08, 2016
NSF has awarded (Award Nº 1545126) $4.6 million to a team led by UC Berkeley exploring human cyber-physical systems (h-CPS)—systems that operate in concert with human operators—with the aim of improving the interaction between humans, computers and the physical world. The research outcome of the project, called Verified Human Interfaces, Control, and Learning for Semi-Autonomous Systems, or VeHICaL, will have applications in emerging technologies such as semi-autonomous cars and autonomous aerial vehicles (drones).
The award was part of a total of $13 million NSF awarded to three five-year “Frontier” projects to advance cyber-physical systems (CPS). The other two projects are tackling monitoring and mitigating noise pollution in cities and quickly identifying and overcoming problems in manufacturing environments.
LeddarTech launches LeddarVu, a new scalable platform towards high-resolution LiDAR; Vu8 solid-state LiDAR
September 07, 2016
LeddarTech, a developer of solid-state LiDAR technology (earlier post), introduced LeddarVu, a new platform for the next generation of its Leddar detection and ranging modules. The LeddarVu platform combines the benefits of a very compact, modular architecture with superior performance, robustness and cost efficiency towards high-resolution LiDAR applications, such as autonomous driving.
Leveraging LeddarTech’s advanced, patented signal processing and algorithms, LeddarVu sensors will evolve along with the future generations of the LeddarCore ICs. As previously announced with the company’s development roadmap, upcoming iterations of LeddarCore ICs are expected to deliver ranges reaching 250 m, fields of view up to 140°, and up to 480,000 points per second (with a resolution down to 0.25° both horizontal and vertical), enabling the design of affordable LiDARs for all levels of autonomous driving, including the capability of mapping the environment over 360° around the vehicle.
Volvo Cars and Autoliv to create joint venture for next-gen autonomous driving software
September 06, 2016
Volvo Cars and Autoliv have signed a letter of intent to set up a new jointly-owned company to develop next-generation autonomous driving software. The planned new company will have its headquarters in Gothenburg, Sweden, and an initial workforce taken from both companies of around 200, increasing to over 600 in the medium term. The company is expected to start operations in the beginning of 2017.
The new company, which has yet to be named, will develop advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and autonomous drive (AD) systems for use in Volvo cars and for sale exclusively by Autoliv to all car makers globally, with revenues shared by both companies.
Japan 3D map JV beginning process of creating high-def 3-D maps for autonomous vehicles; dynamic mapping
September 05, 2016
The Nikkei reports that Tokyo-based Dynamic Map Planning (DMP), formed earlier this year by Mitsubishi Electric, mapmaker Zenrin and nine automakers, will begin creating high-definition 3-D maps for self-driving cars this month.
The project is supported by the Japanese government (SIP-adus, Strategic Innovation Promotion Program Innovation of Automated Driving for Universal Services) in support of an effort to have autonomous vehicles on the road by 2020 equipped with a dynamic mapping system that combines real-time, “dynamic” information with a high-definition 3D map base. The result, say the planners, is a “one stop” information source that can provide necessary information for automated driving.
Renesas Electronics and TSMC announce 28nm MCU collaboration for next-generation green and autonomous vehicles
September 02, 2016
Renesas Electronics Corporation and TSMC are collaborating on 28nm (nanometer) embedded flash (eFlash) process technology for manufacturing microcontrollers (MCUs) targeted at next-generation green and autonomous vehicles. The automotive MCUs employing this new 28nm process technology are slated for sample shipment and mass production in 2017 and 2020, respectively.
More specifically, Renesas’ reliable and fast Metal-Oxide-Nitride-Oxide-Silicon (MONOS) eFlash technology will combine with TSMC’s high-performance, low-power 28nm high-K metal gate process technology to produce automotive MCUs for a broader range of applications such as autonomous vehicle sensor control; coordinated control among electronic control units (ECUs); fuel-efficient engine control for green vehicles; and highly efficient motor inverter control for electric vehicles.
Baidu and NVIDIA team up on cloud-to-car platform for self-driving cars; HD maps, Level 3 control, automated parking
September 01, 2016
At the Baidu World Conference in Beijing, Baidu CEO Robin Li together with NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang announced a partnership to use artificial intelligence (AI) in the creation of a cloud-to-car autonomous car platform for local Chinese and global car makers.
NVIDIA and Baidu have a long history of working together on AI. The latest addition to their partnership will combine Baidu’s cloud platform and mapping technology with NVIDIA’s self-driving computing platform to develop solutions for HD maps, Level 3 autonomous vehicle control and automated parking.
Quanergy acquires Otus People Tracker software from Raytheon BBN for advanced autonomous driving and security LiDAR applications
August 29, 2016
Quanergy Systems, Inc., the provider of solid-state LiDAR sensors and smart sensing solutions (earlier post), has acquired the Otus People Tracker software from Raytheon BBN Technologies. The software complements Quanergy’s existing software portfolio and, when used with Quanergy’s LiDAR sensors, creates an integrated hardware and software solution for advanced people detection and tracking applications within the security and autonomous driving markets.
Otus (named after a genus of owls) uses advanced algorithms to identify and to track people for safety and security in crowded environments at ranges exceeding 100 meters when used with Quanergy LiDAR sensors. The system features segmentation techniques identifying humans; background extraction; object clustering; sophisticated merge and split algorithms; persistent tracking algorithms; and other advanced features supporting robust crowd control. Support for multiple zones of interest is included, allowing users fine control over active monitoring.
ORNL team presents solution for coordinating connected and automated vehicles at merging roadways; reduced fuel consumption and travel time
A team of researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has developed an optimization framework and an analytical closed-form solution that addresses the problem of optimally coordinating connected and automated vehicles (CAVs) at merging roadways to achieve smooth traffic flow without stop-and-go driving.
They validated the effectiveness of the efficiency of their proposed solution through a simulation, showing that coordination of vehicles can significantly reduce both fuel consumption and travel time. A paper on the work is published in IEEE Transactions On Intelligent Transportation Systems.
NVIDIA dives into Parker mobile processor for next generation of autonomous vehicles
August 23, 2016
Speaking at the Hot Chips conference in Cupertino, California, NVIDIA revealed the architecture and underlying technology of its new Parker processor, which is suited for automotive applications such as self-driving cars and digital cockpits. Hot Chips, a symposium on high performance chips, is sponsored by the IEEE Technical Committee on Microprocessors and Microcomputers in cooperation with ACM SIGARCH.
NVIDIA mentioned Parker at CES 2016 earlier this year, when it introduced the NVIDIA DRIVE PX 2 platform (earlier post). That platform uses two Parker processors and two Pascal architecture-based GPUs to power deep learning applications.
Mobileye and Delphi to partner on SAE Level 4/5 automated driving solution for 2019
Mobileye and Delphi Automotive PLC are partnering to develop a complete SAE Level 4/5 automated driving solution. The program will result in an end-to-end production-intent fully automated vehicle solution, with the level of performance and functional safety required for rapid integration into diverse vehicle platforms for a range of customers worldwide.
The partners’ “Central Sensing Localization and Planning” (CSLP) platform will be demonstrated in combined urban and highway driving at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and production ready for 2019.
Solid-state LiDAR company Quanergy raises $90M in Series B; valuation passes $1B
Quanergy Systems, Inc., a leading provider of solid-state LiDAR sensors and smart sensing solutions (earlier post), raised $90 million in Series B funding at a valuation well over $1 billion. Sensata Technologies, Delphi Automotive, Samsung Ventures, Motus Ventures and GP Capital participated in the round. This investment brings the company’s total funds raised to approximately $150 million.
Quanergy intends to use the investment and leverage its intellectual property to work with its partners in ramping up the production of its solid-state LiDAR sensors. These sensors use standard semiconductor manufacturing processes and have no moving parts on a macro scale or a micro scale, offering significantly lower cost, higher reliability, superior performance, increased capability, smaller size and lower weight when compared to traditional mechanical sensors, sometimes named hybrid solid state sensors.
3 autonomous vehicle startups move into U-M incubator
August 22, 2016
Three startups from the West Coast—Zendrive (earlier post), PolySync (earlier post) and Civil Maps (earlier post)—will join TechLab at Mcity this fall, moving resources to develop their driverless vehicle technologies in Ann Arbor.
The move is part of an expansion of an innovative program designed to drive the future of mobility, announced the University of Michigan Center for Entrepreneurship, in partnership with the U-M Mobility Transformation Center.
Volvo Cars and Uber join forces to develop next-gen autonomous driving cars; $300M joint project
August 18, 2016
Volvo Cars and ride-sharing company Uber have signed an agreement to establish a joint project that will develop new base vehicles that will be able to incorporate the latest developments in AD technologies, up to and including fully autonomous driverless cars. The base vehicles will be manufactured by Volvo Cars and then purchased from Volvo by Uber. Volvo Cars and Uber are contributing a combined $300 million to the project.
Uber also announced that it is acquiring Otto, a start-up focusing on self-driving trucks. (Earlier post). The announcement of the Volvo-Uber partnership also comes shortly after Ford CEO Mark Fields announced that his company intends to have a high-volume, highly autonomous SAE level 4-capable vehicle in commercial operation in 2021 in a ride-hailing or ride-sharing service. (Earlier post.)
ABI Research: highly automated driving to spark adoption of centralized advanced driver assistance systems
August 17, 2016
As vehicles become highly independent and begin to drive and react to traffic on their own, autonomous systems will aggregate and process data from a variety of on-board sensors and connected infrastructure. This will force the industry to hit a hard reset on advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) architectures, currently dominated by distributed processing and smart sensors.
Automotive OEMs will need to adopt new platforms based on powerful, centralized processors and high-speed low latency networking (e.g., Audi zFAS, earlier post). ABI Research forecasts 13 million vehicles with centralized ADAS platforms will ship in 2025.
Ford targeting highly autonomous vehicle for ride-sharing in 2021; new tech company investments, staffing up in Silicon Valley
Ford intends to have a high-volume, highly autonomous SAE level 4-capable vehicle in commercial operation in 2021 in a ride-hailing or ride-sharing service. To achieve this, the company is investing in or collaborating with four startups to enhance its autonomous vehicle development, doubling its Silicon Valley team and more than doubling its Palo Alto campus.
Autonomous vehicles in 2021 are part of Ford Smart Mobility, the company’s plan to be a leader in autonomous vehicles, as well as in connectivity, mobility, the customer experience, and data and analytics.
Ford and Baidu invest $150M in Velodyne LiDAR
August 16, 2016
Velodyne LiDAR, Inc., a global leader in LiDAR (Light, Detection and Ranging) technology, announced the completion of a combined $150 million investment from co-investors Ford Motor Company and China’s leading search engine company Baidu, Inc. The investment will allow Velodyne to rapidly expand the design and production of high-performance, cost-effective automotive LiDAR sensors, accelerating mass adoption in autonomous vehicle and ADAS applications and therefore accelerating the critical, transformative benefits they provide.
Over the last decade, Velodyne developed four generations of hybrid solid-state LiDAR systems incorporating the company’s proprietary software and algorithms that interpret rich data gathered from the environment via highly accurate laser-based sensors to create high-resolution 3D digital images used for mapping, localization, object identification and collision avoidance.
Toyota Research Institute invests $22M in research on AI, robotics and autonomous driving at University of Michigan
August 10, 2016
Toyota Research Institute (TRI) (earlier post) is making a $22-million investment in research focused on artificial intelligence, robotics and autonomous driving at the University of Michigan (U-M). TRI- CEO Gill Pratt made the announcement in an address to the U-M faculty.
Under the agreement, TRI will provide an initial $22 million over four years for research collaborations with the U-M faculty in the areas of enhanced driving safety, partner robotics and indoor mobility, autonomous driving and student learning and diversity.
2017 Range Rover picks up suite of ADAS and semi-autonomous driving technologies
For 2017, Range Rover receives a suite of advanced ADAS and semi-autonomous driving technologies. Additionally, Land Rover will introduce the new Range Rover SVAutobiography Dynamic model for the 2017 lineup.
Standard Range Rover driver assistance technologies include Rear Park Distance Control; Cruise Control and Speed Limiter; Lane Departure Warning; and Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB). This intelligent technology uses a forward facing camera to detect a risk of collision and warn the driver initiating full emergency braking if the driver fails to respond.
Panasonic acquires German software company OpenSynergy; virtualization for integrated cockpit solutions
August 09, 2016
Panasonic Corporation has acquired all the outstanding shares of the German software company OpenSynergy GmbH, making it a subsidiary. OpenSynergy specializes in embedded automotive software for cockpit solutions; it products enable the convergence of instrument clusters, head units, advanced driver assistance systems, and car connectivity systems.
A current cockpit system is controlled by different systems: one handles multimedia functions such as navigation and audio; another for driver support functions such as warning signals on head-up display. To integrate such different functions going forward, and to provide a better and intuitively easier driving support, system integration needs to be achieved from the operating system level, Panasonic said.
Fujitsu develops technology to enable high-speed deep learning
Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd. has developed software technology that uses multiple GPUs to enable high-speed deep learning powered by the application of supercomputer software parallelization technology. This newly developed technology was implemented in the Caffe deep learning framework, where, in a test measuring learning time using AlexNet on 64 GPU-equipped computers, it achieved a learning speed that is 27 times faster than a single GPU.
Compared with before this technology was applied, it achieved learning speed improvements of 46% for 16 GPUs and 71% for 64 GPUs (according to internal comparisons). Using this technology, the time required for deep learning R&D can be shortened, such as in the development of unique neural network models for the autonomous control of robots, automobiles, and so forth, or for healthcare and finance, such as with pathology classification or stock price forecasting, enabling the development of higher-quality models.
ZF and ibeo to develop new 3D LiDAR technology; ZF takes 40% stake
August 02, 2016
ZF has acquired a 40% stake in ibeo Automotive Systems GmbH. The Hamburg-based company, which was founded in 2009, is a developer of LiDAR technology and environmental recognition software with a particular focus on applications for autonomous driving (earlier post). Ibeo’s customers include several major global vehicle manufacturers.
The LiDAR generation being developed by ibeo in cooperation with ZF will reproduce a three-dimensional image of the environment without the rotating mirrors contained in current LiDAR systems. Using solid state technology, LiDAR technology will become more compact and easier to integrate into the vehicle.
Valeo Cruise4U car sets off on 13,000-mile partially automated drive across US
Valeo’s Cruise4U partially automated car, previously demonstrated at CES in Las Vegas in January 2016, set off from San Francisco on a 13,000-mile road trip around the US that is scheduled to conclude back in San Francisco on 15 September.
In partially automated driving mode, the trip will include stops in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Seattle, Chicago, Detroit, Boston, New York, Miami, San Antonio and San Diego. The vehicle will travel both day and night in real traffic conditions.
Singapore LTA selects nuTonomy for trials of autonomous mobility-on-demand transportation service; new AV testing center
August 01, 2016
In addition to Delphi (earlier post), Singapore’s Land Transport Authority (LTA) has also selected nuTonomy to begin trials of an autonomous mobility-on-demand transportation service. The partnership will expand and accelerate the nuTonomy’s development efforts in Singapore as it progresses towards the launch of a commercial autonomous vehicle (AV) service in 2018.
Delphi and nuTonomy were shortlisted from several participants which submitted proposals for autonomous mobility-on-demand concepts under the Request for Information (RFI) issued by LTA in June last year. (Besides mobility-on-demand services, LTA is also exploring SDVs for other public transport applications, such as self-driving buses.)
Singapore Land Transport Authority selects Delphi for autonomous vehicle mobility-on-demand program
The Singapore Land Transport Authority (LTA) has selected Delphi Automotive PLC as a strategic partner to implement autonomous mobility concepts.
Delphi will provide a fleet of fully autonomous vehicles (AVs) and will develop a cloud-based mobility-on-demand software (AMoD) suite, opening up new potential autonomous markets for Delphi’s customers. Delphi will conduct a trial of an urban, point-to-point, low-speed, autonomous, mobility-on-demand service in Singapore’s Autonomous Vehicles Test Bed located at one-north, a business park in the western area of the city.
Report: Uber to invest $500M in global mapping project
July 31, 2016
The Financial Times reports that Uber will invest $500 million into a global mapping project in an effort to decrease its dependence on Google Maps and to prepare for autonomous driving. The FT cited “a person familiar with Uber’s plans” as the source.
Uber has already hired Brian McClendon, formerly the head of Google Maps for more than a decade. In a post on the Uber site last week, McClendon noted that “Accurate maps are at the heart of our service and the backbone of our business.”
NTSB issues preliminary report for investigation into Tesla Autopilot fatal crash
July 27, 2016
The US National Transportation Safety Board issued its preliminary report for the investigation of the fatal 7 May 2016, highway crash in Florida involving the Tesla Model S and Autopilot. The preliminary report does not contain any analysis of data and does not state probable cause for the crash.
The preliminary report details the collision involving a 53-foot semitrailer in combination with a 2014 Freightliner Cascadia truck tractor and the 2015 Tesla Model S. According to system performance data downloaded from the car, the indicated vehicle speed was 74 mph (119 km/h) just prior to impact; the posted speed limit was 65 mph (105 km/h).
NIRA Dynamics, InfoCar expand availability of Road Surface Information software with OBD plug-in
July 25, 2016
Sweden-based NIRA Dynamics, a software company developing sensor-fusion-based systems for different vehicle applications, is rolling out its Road Surface Information (RSI) software more broadly, in partnership with InfoCar AB.
Road Surface Information (RSI) by NIRA continuously monitors the quality and tire grip level of the road surface—without stereo cameras, adaptive suspension or other expensive sensors. With sensor-fusion-based algorithms, RSI can determine the level of road roughness and road friction.
Oxbotica launches Selenium mobile autonomy software
July 23, 2016
Oxbotica, a spin-out from Oxford University’s Mobile Robotics Group, launched its new Selenium mobile autonomy software solution with a purpose-built concept vehicle named Geni.
Selenium can work in pedestrianized environments as well as roads and motorways, and is not reliant on GPS to operate—i.e., it can easily transition between indoor and outdoor settings, over ground or underground. The system has been developed to be “vehicle agnostic”—it can be applied to cars, self-driving pods (e.g. for campuses and airports), and warehouse truck fleets.
Musk’s “Master Plan, Part Deux”; expands Tesla to heavy-duty electric trucks and urban transport; integrated energy generation and storage
July 21, 2016
Master Plan Part 1—public now for ten years—outlined (1) the creation of an expensive low-volume electric car (Roadster) to fund (2) a medium-volume electric car (Model S, X) at a lower price to create (3) an affordable high volume car (Model 3) and (4) provide solar power. Master Plan v2.0 takes Tesla into integrated energy generation and storage (i.e., Tesla’s acquisition of Solar City, earlier post) as well as into heavy-duty electric vehicles and urban transport.
CMU study: even partially-automated crash avoidance delivers financial and safety benefits
July 19, 2016
A new cost-benefit analysis by researchers at Carnegie Mellon College of Engineering shows that the public could derive economic and social benefits today if partially-automated collision avoidance features were deployed in all cars.
In a paper published in the journal Accident Analysis & Prevention, they evaluated the benefits and costs of fleet-wide deployment of three such technologies: blind spot monitoring; lane departure warning; and forward collision warning crash avoidance systems within the US light-duty vehicle fleet.
Daimler showcases semi-automated Mercedes-Benz Future Bus with CityPilot; driving 20 km BRT route
July 18, 2016
Daimler is highlighting its development of the semi-automated Mercedes-Benz Future Bus with CityPilot. The technology of the CityPilot in the Mercedes-Benz Future Bus is based on that of the autonomously driving Mercedes-Benz Actros truck with Highway Pilot presented two years ago. (Earlier post.)
The Mercedes-Benz Future Bus with CityPilot, which Daimler will showcase at the upcoming IAA 2016 in Hannover in September, is already making its first public journey on part of Europe’s longest BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) route in the Netherlands, linking Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport with the town of Haarlem.
Ford takes stake in Civil Maps; 3D mapping technologies for fully autonomous vehicles; AI and voxel hashing
July 16, 2016
Civil Maps, a start-up developing 3D mapping technology for fully autonomous vehicles, raised a $6.6-million seed funding round, led by Motus Ventures and including investment from Ford Motor Company, Wicklow Capital, StartX Stanford and Yahoo cofounder Jerry Yang’s AME Cloud Ventures.
Civil Maps’ mission is to make it possible for fully autonomous vehicles (SAE Levels 4-5) to drive anywhere smoothly and safely. The company’s focus is on building continental-scale maps for autonomous vehicles and providing precise localization using voxel-hashing algorithms. Although GPS and IMU (inertial measurement unit) technologies can in theory determine both position and orientation of vehicles, the accuracy is limited by atmospheric distortion, the start-up notes.
NSF leads $400M federal effort to boost advanced wireless research
July 15, 2016
The National Science Foundation (NSF) will invest more than $400 million over the next seven years to support fundamental wireless research and to develop platforms for advanced wireless research in support of the White House’s Advanced Wireless Research Initiative. These investments will support the research community in experimenting with and testing novel technologies, applications and services capable of making wireless communication faster, smarter, more responsive and more robust.
This new program will enable the deployment and use of four city-scale testing platforms for advanced wireless research over the next decade and builds upon the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Spectrum Frontiers vote yesterday. (Earlier post.)
TTTech using VectorCAST platform for development of Audi zFAS to ISO 26262 ASIL-D compliance; domain controller for piloted driving
TTTech Computertechnik AG (TTTech) has selected Vector Software’s VectorCAST software test automation platform for use within TTTech’s development of Audi’s zFAS (zentrales Fahrerassistenzsteuergerät)—the domain controller for Audi piloted driving systems. (Earlier post.) VectorCAST provides TTTech with the tools necessary to ensure ISO 26262 compliance up to ASIL D level on all microcontrollers used in zFAS.
Under the guidance of Audi AG, TTTech developed the zFAS electronic control unit (ECU) that integrates various functionalities of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). The ECU uses numerous technology components from TTTech for various automotive assistance functions, such as piloted parking or autonomous driving.
Consumer Reports calls on Tesla to disable and update auto steering function, remove “Autopilot” name
July 14, 2016
Consumer Reports is calling on Tesla to disable the automatic steering function in the Autopilot driving-assist system available in its Model S vehicles until the company updates the function to confirm that the driver’s hands remain on the steering wheel at all times.
The consumer organization, which has owned and tested three Teslas (2013 Model S 85, 2014 Model S P85D, and 2016 Model X 90D), said that Tesla should also change the name of the Autopilot feature because it promotes a potentially dangerous assumption that the Model S is capable of driving on its own.
JLR to field more than 100 research vehicles in UK for wide range of connected and autonomous vehicle technologies
Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) plans to create a fleet of more than 100 research vehicles over the next four years, to develop and test a wide range of Connected and Autonomous Vehicle (CAV) technologies. The first of these research cars will be driven on a new 41-mile test route on motorways and urban roads around Coventry and Solihull in the UK later this year.
The initial tests will involve vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communications technologies that will allow cars to talk to each other and roadside signs, overhead gantries and traffic lights. Ultimately, data sharing between vehicles would allow future connected cars to co-operate and work together to assist the driver and make lane changing and crossing junctions easier and safer.
Nissan’s ProPILOT autonomous drive technology debuts in new Serena; autonomous drive first for Japanese automakers
July 13, 2016
Nissan Motor’s new Serena, scheduled to go on sale in Japan in late August, will come equipped with the company’s ProPILOT autonomous drive technology. ProPILOT is designed for highway use in single-lane traffic. Nissan is the first Japanese automaker to introduce a combination of steering, accelerator and braking that can be operated in full automatic mode, easing driver workload in heavy highway traffic and long commutes.
Employing advanced image-processing technology, the car’s ProPILOT system understands road and traffic situations and executes precise steering enabling the vehicle to perform naturally.
Jaguar Land Rover demonstrates all-terrain self-driving technology; off-road connected convoy
July 12, 2016
Jaguar Land Rover has demonstrated a range of innovative research technologies that would allow a future autonomous car to drive itself over any surface or terrain.
The multi-million pound autonomous all-terrain driving research project aims to make the self-driving car viable in the widest range of real life, on- and off-road driving environments and weather conditions. To enable this level of autonomous all-terrain capability, Jaguar Land Rover’s researchers are developing next-generation sensing technologies that will be the eyes of the future autonomous car.
Google teaching autonomous vehicles to share road safely with cyclists
July 11, 2016
Google currently has 24 Lexus RX450h SUVs and 34 prototype vehicles on the road with autonomous driving capability. The Google autonomous fleet has so far racked up 1,725,911 miles driven in autonomous mode, with 1,158,921 miles driven manually. The fleet is averaging 15K to 17K autonomous miles per week, with testing locations in Mountain View, California; Kirkland, Washington; Phoenix, Arizona; and Austin, Texas.
Automotive and telecoms sectors to launch EU project for connected and automated driving
July 07, 2016
Europe’s leading trade associations for the telecommunications and the automotive sectors intend to launch a large-scale, pre-deployment project to test connected and automated driving at the EU level.
The industry-led project will focus on use cases and test functionalities in three main areas: automated driving, road safety and traffic efficiency, and the digitalisation of transports and logistics. Functions that are being considered include high density platooning, cooperative collision avoidance, remote control parking, local-hazard warnings and traffic flow optimization. High definition maps will be updated with a fast connection to the internet on phone or other mobile devices.
Renault-Nissan Alliance delivers €4.3B synergy target early; autonomous drive and connectivity expected to deliver major savings
July 06, 2016
Renault-Nissan Alliance generated €4.3 billion (US$4.8 billion) in synergies in 2015, one year ahead of schedule and an increase of 13% from 2014. Purchasing, engineering and manufacturing were the main contributors.
The Common Module Family and cross-production continue to reduce costs, while the development of technologies including autonomous drive and vehicle connectivity is expected to generate major savings moving forward. With the convergence, the Alliance expects to generate at least €5.5 billion (US$6.1 billion) in synergies in 2018
NHTSA begins preliminary evaluation of Tesla Model S Autopilot fatality
July 01, 2016
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) has begun a preliminary evaluation of a fatal highway crash involving a 2015 Tesla Model S operating with Autopilot activated. ODI is opening the preliminary evaluation (PE16007) to examine the design and performance of any automated driving systems in use at the time of the crash.
In a blog post, Tesla Motors was quick to point out that this is the first known fatality in more than 130 million miles driven with Autopilot activated. Tesla also pointed out that among all vehicles in the US, there is a fatality every 94 million miles; worldwide, there is a fatality approximately every 60 million miles.
Report: combination of new mobility technologies creates opportunities for cutting emissions, but requires strategic policy interventions
June 30, 2016
The combination of connectivity, automation plus shared vehicle ownership and use has the potential to make car travel greener and cheaper, cutting energy use and helping accelerate the introduction of low carbon vehicles. However, these energy and carbon benefits are by no means guaranteed and will require strategic policy interventions to maximize them according to new report by the Institute for Transport Studies (ITS) at the University of Leeds, commissioned by the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP) and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE).
The study—Automated vehicles; Automatically low carbon?— was presented at the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership Conference at the Olympic Park in London. According to the study, better coordination and connectivity between vehicles and infrastructure is likely to improve energy efficiency, as well as potentially make road transport safer and quicker.
WABCO and ZF demonstrate prototype of Evasive Maneuver Assist for commercial vehicles; connecting active braking and steering capability
WABCO Holdings and ZF have developed and demonstrated a prototype of a new collision avoidance technology for commercial vehicles. The Evasive Maneuver Assist (EMA) combines WABCO’s world-class braking, stability and vehicle dynamics control systems on trucks and trailers with ZF’s active steering technology—an industry first. EMA marks another step toward enabling autonomous driving in the commercial vehicle industry.
Evasive Maneuver Assist leverages the capabilities of WABCO’s OnGuardACTIVE, its radar-only collision mitigation system. A radar sensor identifies moving or stationary vehicles ahead and alerts the driver via visual, audio and haptic signals of impending rear-end collisions. Should the driver determine that the system cannot avoid a rear-end collision by driver-initiated or autonomous braking alone, Evasive Maneuver Assist engages to help the driver to safely steer around an obstructing vehicle and to bring truck and trailer to a complete and safe stop.
Beijing Foton launches “China Internet Super Truck Global Innovation Alliance”; Auman Energy Super Truck
June 23, 2016
Chinese truck and utility vehicle manufacturer Beijing Foton has launched the China Internet Super Truck Global Innovation Alliance and showcased the Auman EST (Energy Super Truck) at an event in Athens, Greece.
The Internet super truck project is a collaboration that brings together Foton Motor Group, Cummins, and Daimler AG and aims at building Internet-driven super trucks that are green, efficient, safe, and intelligent through the integration of global resources, the effective use of new energies, the establishment of vehicle networks, and the implementation of intelligent truck-loading technology.
Avoiding Obstacles Safely at High Speed: An Optimal Control Approach for Driving Heavy Autonomous Ground Vehicles Close to their Dynamic Limits
June 22, 2016
by Paul N. Blumberg, PhD
No one who follows automotive news and technology trends can be unaware of the intense research and experimentation taking place related to vehicles that drive themselves, i.e., “Autonomous Vehicles.” Among other potential benefits, these vehicles offer the promise of increased safety on the nation’s roadways and personal mobility to those who are not able or do not wish to drive themselves.
The Society of Automotive Engineers has already developed Standard J3016 which describes six different levels of “driving automation” increasing from Level 0 - No Automation, to Level 5 - Full Automation. At Level 0, a human driver performs all driving tasks, even if assisted by warning or other momentary intervention systems. At Level 5, a system comprising sensors, actuators and control algorithms performs all driving tasks such as steering, braking, acceleration and monitoring the vehicle and roadway under all modes of driving. At Level 5, a human driver is no longer necessary.
Lux Research: Toyota, Daimler, Honda leading auto OEMs for self-driving cars; innovative business models key
June 21, 2016
Although every major automotive company has announced plans for a car with self-driving capabilities, only five carmakers—Daimler, Honda, Hyundai, Toyota and Volvo—earn a positive take in Lux Research’s analysis of OEMs’ autonomous vehicle efforts.
In an emerging scenario of few significant technical differentiations and near-ubiquitous systems capabilities, Lux Research evaluated 12 carmakers and offered a “positive” rating based on three key criteria: demonstrated capability, investment and partnerships.
NVIDIA deep learning software platform gets trio of big updates
June 20, 2016
NVIDIA announced three major updates for its deep learning software platform. NVIDIA DIGITS 4 introduces a new object detection workflow, enabling data scientists to train deep neural networks to find faces, pedestrians, traffic signs, vehicles and other objects in a sea of images. This workflow enables advanced deep learning solutions—such as tracking objects from satellite imagery, security and surveillance, advanced driver assistance systems and medical diagnostic screening.
When training a deep neural network, researchers must repeatedly tune various parameters to get high accuracy out of a trained model. DIGITS 4 can automatically train neural networks across a range of tuning parameters, significantly reducing the time required to arrive at the most accurate solution.
VW Group strategy calls for >30 new BEVs by 2025 with annual EV sales of 2-3M units; mobility services
June 16, 2016
Volkswagen Group CEO Matthias Müller presented the company’s new new strategic plan—TOGETHER - Strategy 2025—in Wolfsburg. With regard to vehicles and drivetrains, the new strategy places special emphasis on e-mobility.
The Group is planning a broad-based initiative in this area: it intends to launch more than 30 purely battery-powered electric vehicles (BEVs) over the next ten years. The Company estimates that such vehicles could then account for around a quarter of the global passenger car market. The Volkswagen Group forecasts that its own BEV sales will be between two and three million units in 2025, equivalent to some 20 to 25 percent of the total unit sales expected at that time.
Local Motors debuts first self-driving vehicle using IBM Watson Internet of Things for Automotive
Local Motors, creator of the first 3D-printed cars (earlier post), introduced the first self-driving vehicle to integrate the advanced cognitive computing capabilities of IBM Watson. The vehicle, dubbed “Olli,” will be used on public roads locally in Washington DC, and late in 2016 in Miami-Dade County, Florida and Las Vegas, Nevada.
Olli was unveiled during the grand opening of a new Local Motors facility in National Harbor, MD and transported Local Motors CEO and co-founder John B. Rogers, Jr. along with vehicle designer Edgar Sarmiento from the Local Motors co-creation community into the new facility. The electric vehicle, which can carry up to 12 people, is equipped with IBM Watson Internet of Things (IoT) for Automotive to improve the passenger experience and allow natural interaction with the vehicle.
Renesas Electronics develops two-port on-chip SRAM for improved video processing for autonomous vehicles
Renesas Electronics has developed a new two-port on-chip Static Random Access Memory (SRAM) for use in system-on-chips (SoCs) for in-vehicle infotainment systems. The new on-chip SRAM will be used as video processing buffer memory in high-performance SoCs that will play an important role in making the autonomous-driving vehicles of the future safer and more reliable.
The new SRAM is optimized for parallel processing of video data and will enable advanced video data processing such as obstacle recognition utilizing real-time processing of high-resolution vehicle camera videos and augmented reality (AR) display on the windshield.
BMW Group introduces MINI and Rolls Royce centenary concepts; individual mobility based on megatrends and projections
To mark its centenary year in 2016, the BMW Group is looking further ahead than usual with a series of Vision Vehicles designed to anticipate and respond to future mobility needs. At its Munich Centenary Event on 7 March, the automaker introduced the BMW VISION NEXT 100. (Earlier post.)
BMW now has introduced two more Vision concepts: the MINI VISION NEXT 100 and the Rolls-Royce VISION NEXT 100. A fourth Vision Vehicle, by BMW Motorrad, will make its premiere on 16 October in Los Angeles, completing the BMW Group’s brand quartet of far-forward looking concepts.
Savari launches next-gen V2X solutions to accelerate adoption of safety apps in connected and self-driving cars
June 14, 2016
Savari Inc. announced its next generation of MobiWAVE On-Board Units (OBUs), StreetWAVE Road-Side Units (RSUs) and V2X middleware. These new solutions add to Savari’s experience in V2X communication technology and target automotive manufacturers, tier one suppliers and governments.
V2X communication technology is widely recognized throughout the industry as a ready-to-deploy option to bring advanced situational awareness to the driver through V2V (vehicle-to-vehicle), V2I (vehicle-to-infrastructure) and V2P (vehicle-to-pedestrian) safety applications. V2X systems can operate independently or complement other connected vehicle technologies, and they offer the benefit of working in a non-line-of-sight environment with a 0.6 mi./1 km range. Savari’s V2X solutions are roadway proven, amassing more than 15 million miles and four hundred thousand hours of public safety pilot testing with the US Department of Transportation (DOT).
Bosch introducing Home zone park assist in 2019; trainable autonomous parking
June 07, 2016
Bosch’s newest autonomous parking technology, Home zone park assist, will make its North American market debut by 2019. With Home zone park assist, drivers will conveniently control the parking process by smartphone, even from outside the vehicle. The technology will guide the car, autonomously if needed, to parking spaces up to 100 meters away, where it then maneuvers the car into the space.
Home zone park assist is a partially automated function that still requires some monitoring by the driver. It was designed for repeated parking maneuvers—for example, at home or into an assigned parking garage space. The unique aspect about the technology is that Home zone park assist learns and saves individual driving maneuvers. Once it does so, it will perform them independently; all the driver has to do is press a button.
Valeo to offer new low-cost solid-state LiDAR; co-developed with LeddarTech; mass production in 2018
June 01, 2016
Tier 1 supplier Valeo is adding a new low-cost solid-state LiDAR, developed together with LeddarTech, a specialist in advanced detection and ranging solutions, to its portfolio for driving and parking assistance. The new sensor will be ready for mass production in 2018.
The Solid-state LiDAR will have no mechanical moving parts and will be the least expensive LiDAR sensor on the market, Valeo said. With a proprietary receiver ASIC with 16 discrete detection segments, the sensor will provide best in class sensing performance being able to detect pedestrians, bicycles, motorcycles or cars which are only partly in the same lane.
New Georgia Tech MPPI technique controls autonomous vehicles at edge of handling limits
May 24, 2016
Researchers from Georgia Tech’s Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering (AE) and the School of Interactive Computing (IC) have developed a new control technique for autonomous vehicles that can help keep a driverless vehicle under control as it maneuvers at the edge of its handling limits.
The Georgia Tech method—model predictive path integral control (MPPI) using covariance variable importance sampling—was developed specifically to address the non-linear dynamics involved in controlling a vehicle near its friction limits. The approach could help make self-driving cars of the future safer under hazardous road conditions. A paper covering this research was presented at the recent International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) in Stockholm, 16-21 May.
UMTRI: US driver preference for automation about the same as last year; most prefer retaining control
Despite greater coverage of driverless technology advancements the past couple of years, most Americans still prefer to drive themselves—at least partially, according to a new report by Brandon Schoettle and Michael Sivak of the U-M Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI). The new report is a follow-on to their study last year of motorists’ preferences for vehicle automation, including their overall concern about riding in self-driving cars.
Sivak and Schoettle found that 45.8% prefer to retain full control while driving, while 38.7% prefer a partially self-driving vehicle with occasional control by the driver. Just under 16% (15.5%) would rather ride in a completely self-driving vehicle.
Acura reveals Gen2 autonomous driving development vehicle
May 18, 2016
Acura revealed its second-generation autonomous driving development vehicle in California, a modified version of the RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD luxury performance sedan.
The RLX has been fitted with a new suite of radar, LiDAR, camera and GPS sensors, complemented by higher performance CPUs and GPUs, and improved cabling, heat management and circuitry. These enhancements have been combined with new, more intelligent software algorithms to support more complex testing scenarios.
Volkswagen takes stake in German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI); autonomous driving and the digital factory
May 14, 2016
Volkswagen is taking a stake in the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI), the world’s largest non-profit scientific institution specializing in artificial intelligence (AI). By acquiring participating in DFKI, the Volkswagen Group is reinforcing its research activities in the field of future-oriented digital technologies.
In addition to research in artificial intelligence, DFKI specializes in the fields of robotics, Industry 4.0 and driver assistance systems. In a joint project, Volkswagen and DFKI have started further to develop the software framework ROCK (Robotics Construction Kit) to allow direct, close cooperation between human beings and robots. The system was presented in a near-production scenario at the Volkswagen AG IT Symposium 2016.
Audi A7 piloted driving concept “Jack” now driving more naturally
May 13, 2016
Audi’s latest version of its piloted driving research car, the Audi A7 concept “Jack,” has not only learned how to autonomously perform all of its driving maneuvers on the expressway, it has also learned how to show consideration for other road users. Jack exhibits a driving style that is adaptive to the given situation, safe and especially interactive, Audi says.
“Jack”—the internal nickname for the Audi A7 piloted driving concept technology platform now passes trucks with a slightly wider lateral gap. It also signals upcoming lane changes by activating the turn signal and moving closer to the lane marking first—just as human drivers would do to indicate their intentions.
Ford invests $182.2 million in cloud-based software development company Pivotal
May 05, 2016
Ford is investing $182.2 million in Pivotal, a cloud-based software platform company with which it already has partnered (earlier post) on FordPass (earlier post), to further enhance its software development capabilities. The investment was part of Pivotal’s $253-million Series C financing round; the round was led by new investor Ford, in conjunction with Microsoft and all previous investors GE, EMC and VMware. The deal is expected to close in May 2016, subject to customary conditions, including receipt of required regulatory approval.
Ford intends for the $182.2-million investment in Pivotal to help drive Ford’s transition to both an auto and a mobility company.
Google Self-Driving Car Project and FCA to integrate self-driving technology into 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan
May 03, 2016
The Google Self-Driving Car Project and FCA announced will collaborate to integrate Google’s self-driving technology into all-new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans (earlier post) to expand Google’s existing self-driving test program. This marks the first time that Google has worked directly with an automaker to integrate its self-driving system, including its sensors and software, into a passenger vehicle.
Engineering responsibilities will be shared based on each company’s respective expertise. FCA will initially design and engineer around 100 vehicles uniquely built for Google’s self-driving technology. Google will integrate the suite of sensors and computers that the vehicles will rely on to navigate roads autonomously.
LeEco showcases autonomous EV concept LeSEE at Auto China 2016
April 28, 2016
China-based internet company LeEco unveiled its LeSEE electric car concept this week at Auto China 2016—The 14th Beijing International Automobile Exhibition. (Earlier post.) The LeSEE electric concept features an advanced autopilot and driver assistance systems, intelligent inductive charging and car sharing capabilities.
To increase driver safety and awareness, the front-end of the car features technology that detects pedestrians and vehicles while displaying information about the location of the potential hazards in a projection panel in the dashboard.
SwRI to showcase Ranger precision localization technology for automated driving; non-GPS system with 2cm precision
April 27, 2016
Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) will showcase its award-winning Ranger precision localization solution at the AUVSI XPONENTIAL 2016 conference and trade show in New Orleans 2-5 May.
Ranger is a patented approach to vehicle localization that enables precise navigation for automated vehicles using commercially available hardware in combination with SwRI algorithms. The latest Ranger kit can be used for automated driving, valet parking in garages and structures, freight distribution, and docking of buses and large trucks.
Self-driving mining truck stable at 90 km/h; clothoid-based model predictive control
April 15, 2016
A prototype self-driving truck under development by Scania and Swedish research universities has tested successfully at speeds of up to 90 km/h (56 mph). According to the research lead at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, the successful tests are aimed at implementing self-driving Scania trucks in mining operations within a year or two.
KTH, Scania, Linköping University, Saab and Autoliv and collaborating in a government-funded project called iQMatic, which is aimed at to develop a fully self-driving truck for difficult environments such as mines. With much greater mass and built-in inertia than passenger cars, such trucks present a greater challenge for autonomous driving.
European Transport Ministers sign Amsterdam Declaration on steps for development and harmonization of connected, autonomous driving in Europe
On 14 April, the transport ministers of all 28 EU member states signed the Amsterdam Declaration, laying down agreements on the steps necessary for the development of connected, autonomous driving technology in the EU. The signatories pledge to draw up rules and regulations that will allow autonomous vehicles to be used on the roads.
A lack of good cooperation between EU member states could give rise to a jumble of different rules, thereby preventing the large-scale availability of this new technology. Agreements also need to be made on issues such as liability, privacy, data security and the effects of self-driving vehicles on traffic and the road network.
GM sees connectivity, autonomy and transport-as-service fundamentally changing automotive industry
April 14, 2016
Three emerging and converging factors—connectivity, autonomy and transport-as-a-service—will fundamentally change the automotive industry over the next few decades, according to Mike Abelson, GM’s VP of Strategy and Global Portfolio Planning.
These three factors, said Abelson in a panel talk at the 2016 SAE World Congress in Detroit, are changing how the vehicle interacts with the environment; how the user interacts with the vehicle; and the entire business structure around it.
Velodyne LiDAR introduces 32-channel ULTRA Puck VLP-32A high definition real-time 3D LiDAR
April 13, 2016
Velodyne LiDAR introduced the ULTRA Puck VLP-32A, combining best-in-class 32-channel performance with a small form factor and the high reliability, at the the 2016 SAE World Congress in Detroit. The ULTRA Puck VLP-32A is the company’s most advanced LiDAR sensor to date, delivering high performance at a cost-effective price point of around $500 at automotive-scale production.
The ULTRA Puck doubles the range and resolution (via number of laser channels) of its predecessor to 200 meters and 32 channels, providing enhanced resolution to identify objects easily. The 32 channels in the ULTRA Puck are deployed over a vertical field of view of 28° and are configured in a unique pattern to provide improved resolution in the horizon to be even more useful for automotive applications. By contrast, the earlier unit used equidistant, 2˚ spacing of the channels.
RAND: Autonomous vehicles cannot be test-driven enough miles to demonstrate their safety; alternative testing methods needed
Autonomous vehicles would have to be driven hundreds of millions of miles and, under some scenarios, hundreds of billions of miles to create enough data to clearly demonstrate their safety, according to a new report from RAND, a non-profit research organization.
Under even the most-aggressive test driving assumptions, it would take existing fleets of autonomous vehicles tens and even hundreds of years to log sufficient miles to adequately assess the safety of the vehicles when compared to human-driven vehicles, according to the analysis.
Ford tests Fusion Hybrid autonomous research vehicles driving in complete darkness
April 11, 2016
As part of its LiDAR sensor development, Ford has tested Fusion Hybrid autonomous research vehicles in complete darkness without headlights on desert roads, demonstrating the capability to perform beyond the limits of human drivers.
Driving in pitch black at Ford Arizona Proving Ground marks the next step on the company’s efforts to delivering fully autonomous vehicles. The development shows that even without cameras, which rely on light, Ford’s LiDAR (units from Velodyne), working with the car’s virtual driver software, is robust enough to steer flawlessly around winding roads. While it’s ideal to have all three modes of sensors—radar, cameras and LiDAR—the latter can function independently on roads without stoplights.
Toyota Research Institute establishes 3rd US facility; AI, materials science and robotics research at U-M
April 08, 2016
Toyota will establish its third Toyota Research Institute (TRI) facility in the US. The new facility will be located in Ann Arbor, near the University of Michigan (U-M) campus where it will fund research in artificial intelligence, robotics and materials science. Joining the TRI facility established last January in Palo Alto working with Stanford (TRI-PAL), and in Cambridge working with MIT (TRI-CAM), TRI-ANN is scheduled to open in June.
Although the focus of each of the three strategically located facilities will be broad, each will feature a different core discipline. TRI-ANN will focus primarily on fully autonomous (chauffeured) driving. TRI-PAL will work on what may be termed “guardian angel” driving, where the driver is always engaged but the vehicle assists as needed. TRI-CAM will dedicate a large portion of its work to simulation and deep learning.
DENSO invests in semiconductor laser technology startup TriLumina; speeding up LiDAR adoption for ADAS, autonomous driving
DENSO International America, Inc. has invested in TriLumina Corp., a semiconductor laser technology company that focuses on providing light sources for LiDAR and interior illumination products. DENSO is looking to speed up the adoption of LiDAR and driver monitoring technologies in advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and in autonomous vehicles. This strategic investment will enable TriLumina to gain broader access to the automotive market. The laser technology company also received an investment last year from Caterpillar Ventures.
TriLumina has developed eye-safe semiconductor lasers that are among the most versatile laser illuminator solutions available in the market. TriLumina is hoping to accelerate the automotive industry’s adoption of semi-autonomous and autonomous vehicles by providing lasers for 100% solid-state LiDAR products and advanced driver monitoring systems (DMS).
Volvo Cars plans to launch large-scale autonomous driving experiment in China; 100 cars on public roads
April 07, 2016
Volvo Cars plans to launch a large-scale autonomous driving experiment in China in which local drivers will test autonomous driving (AD) cars on public roads in everyday driving conditions. Volvo expects the experiment to involve up to 100 cars; in coming months, the automaker will begin negotiations with interested cities in China to see which is able to provide the necessary permissions, regulations and infrastructure to allow the experiment to go ahead.
Volvo believes the introduction of AD technology promises to reduce car accidents as well as free up congested roads, reduce pollution and allow drivers to use their time in their cars more valuably.
EB software and Mapscape digital maps support WEpods autonomous electric shuttles
April 06, 2016
Elektrobit (EB), a leading developer of embedded technology solutions for the automotive industry, and Netherlands-based digital map provider Mapscape, are contributing to WEpods—completely autonomous electric shuttle buses that will use public roads.
EB and Mapscape together provide an enhanced electronic horizon solution for assisting in motion prediction and path planning of the autonomous shuttle bus. Mapscape provides an NDS (Navigation Data Standard) map database with comprehensive road geometry data that provides more detailed information for objects and pinpoint locations than standard map information.
NVIDIA DRIVE PX 2 platform to power world’s first robotic motor sports competition
At CES 2016 in January, NVIDIA introduced NVIDIA DRIVE PX 2—its new generation high-performance computing platform for in-vehicle artificial intelligence applied to the complexities inherent in autonomous driving. (Earlier post.) This week, at NVIDIA’s GPU Technology Conference, the company announced that the DRIVE PX 2 platform will be used in the cars that will compete in the Roborace Championship, the first global autonomous motor sports competition.
DRIVE PX 2—which delivers processing power equivalent to 150 MacBook Pros—uses two next-generation Tegra processors plus two next-generation discrete GPUs, based on the Pascal architecture (earlier post), to deliver up to 24 trillion deep learning operations per second. Deep learning operations are specialized instructions that accelerate the math used in deep learning network inference. That’s more than 10 times the computational horsepower than NVIDIA’s previous-generation DRIVE PX.
2017 Ford Fusion offers adaptive cruise control with automatic stop-and-go technology
April 05, 2016
The 2017 Ford Features offers a new stop-and-go technology—piggybacking on the existing adaptive cruise control feature—which automatically accelerates and brakes for the driver while maintaining a safe distance from the vehicle ahead.
Using dedicated steering wheel buttons, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go allows drivers to set cruise control speed and following distance from the vehicle ahead. The semi-autonomous technology can automatically adjust the set speed for comfortable travel—much like a human driver would—bringing the car to a full stop when traffic halts.
Hyundai Motor Group outlines roadmap for connected car development
Hyundai Motor Group has outlined its roadmap for connected car development. The Group will collaborate with leading global IT and networking companies to develop its “Hyper-connected and Intelligent Car” concept.
The roadmap outlines four main service fields that will help develop smarter, more intelligent cars that can receive and utilize data faster than before. The mid- to long- term development focus includes a range of key features, including: smart remote maintenance services; autonomous driving; Smart Traffic; and a connected Mobility Hub that provides security and data management for all elements of the connected car.
Six automated truck platoons to compete in European Truck Platooning Challenge
March 25, 2016
At the end of this month, six automated truck platoons—representing 6 different truck OEMs and their partners—will leave several European cities of origin and drive along public roads, targeting arrival at the APM Terminals, Maasvlakte II, Rotterdam on 6 April. This European Truck Platooning Challenge represents large-scale testing of cross-border automated truck-platooning; its aim is to bring platooning one step closer to implementation.
Truck Platooning involves trucks driving a short distance apart using automated driving technology; platooning offers benefits in terms of fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, safety and the flow of traffic. The Truck Platooning Challenge will demonstrate that a second vehicle is technically capable of automatically following the combination ahead using wireless communications, radar and cameras.
ABI Research: 6 transformative paradigms driving toward smart, sustainable automotive transportation
ABI Research has defined six transformative paradigms for the automotive industry over the next 25 years: the software-defined car; sensors and big data; the connected car; cooperative mobility and the IoT; electrification; and car sharing/driverless cars. While the first three phases are already underway, the latter three will start to drive the market forward within the next 10 years, according to the market research firm.
Car manufacturers are currently revamping vehicles’ electronics and networking architecture to ensure every sub-system is connected and software-defined. Moving toward the next decade, the automotive industry will achieve cooperative mobility. Cars will communicate with not only each other but also infrastructures and environments. Electrification will then change the way consumers power their vehicles. And, lastly, car sharing and driverless cars will likely lead to market consolidation.
CMU study shows autonomous vehicle algorithms can have considerable effect on fuel economy; need for new approaches in testing
March 24, 2016
Autonomous vehicle driving behavior can have a considerable effect on fuel economy. Researchers in the College of Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University have determined that fuel efficiency for self-driving cars—within the bounds of current fuel economy testing—could improve by up to 10% under efficiency-focused control strategies when following another vehicle.
However, the study also showed that autonomous vehicle (AV) technology following algorithms designed without considering efficiency can degrade fuel economy by up to 3%. In a paper published in the journal Transportation Research Part C: Emerging Technologies, Assistant Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering Constantine Samaras and Ph.D. student Avi Chaim Mersky suggest the need for a new near-term approach in fuel economy testing to account for connected and autonomous vehicles.
Daimler demonstrates autonomous truck platooning; Highway Pilot Connect delivers ~7% lower fuel consumption
March 22, 2016
Daimler Trucks demonstrated the new Highway Pilot Connect system for autonomous truck platooning on the A52 autobahn near Düsseldorf. Three WiFi-connected, autonomously driving trucks operated on the autobahn with authorization for public traffic in a platoon formation.
Such a combination can reduce fuel consumption by up to 7% and the road space requirement on motorways by almost half, while improving traffic safety at the same time, Daimler said. Based on the Daimler Trucks Highway Pilot system for autonomously driving heavy trucks (earlier post), the three trucks link up to form an aerodynamically optimized, fully automated platoon.
Toyota and Lexus making automated braking standard on nearly every model and trim level by end of 2017; 4 years ahead of NHTSA/IIHS target
March 21, 2016
Toyota will begin to include the and Lexus Safety System+ and Toyota Safety Sense packages, anchored by automatic emergency braking (AEB), on almost every new vehicle by the end of 2017—four years before the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) 2022 target. (Earlier post.) Jim Lentz, CEO of Toyota Motor North America. made the announcement at the New York Auto Show.
Already available as a low-cost option on a broad range of Lexus and Toyota vehicles, Lexus Safety System+ and Toyota Safety Sense are designed to help address three key areas of driver assistance: preventing or mitigating frontal collisions – including pedestrians; helping keep drivers within their lane; and enhancing road safety during nighttime driving. Technologies include Toyota’s Pre-Collision System, Lane Departure Alert, and Automatic High Beams.
20 automakers commit to make automatic emergency braking standard on new vehicles no later than 2022; faster than regulatory process
March 17, 2016
The US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) announced the commitment by 20 automakers representing more than 99% of the US. auto market to make automatic emergency braking (AEB) a standard feature on virtually all new cars in the US no later than NHTSA’s 2022 reporting year, which begins 1 Sept 2022.
Automakers making the commitment are Audi; BMW; FCA US LLC; Ford; General Motors; Honda; Hyundai; Jaguar Land Rover; Kia; Maserati; Mazda; Mercedes-Benz; Mitsubishi Motors; Nissan; Porsche; Subaru; Tesla Motors; Toyota; Volkswagen; and Volvo Car USA. The unprecedented commitment means that this important safety technology will be available to more consumers more quickly than would be possible through the regulatory process.
BMW rolls out new strategy, focusing on further advances in e-mobility and automated driving; Project i 2.0
March 16, 2016
BMW has revealed initial details of its new strategy, “Strategy NUMBER ONE > NEXT”. The BMW Group sees digitalization as an opportunity to make mobile life simpler, safer and more convenient, thereby capturing new customer groups. In the coming years, the Group will focus on broadening its technological expertise, expanding the scope of digital connectivity between people, vehicles and services and actively strengthening sustainable mobility.
BMW’s technology focus will therefore be on consistently achieving further advances in the fields of electric mobility and automated driving. Under the banner of BMW iNEXT, the BMW Group will bring new forms of automated driving and digital connectivity together with a new generation of electric mobility, lightweight construction and interior design. BMW said that it would usher in the next decade with a new BMW i model.
GM to acquire Cruise Automation to accelerate autonomous vehicle development
March 11, 2016
General Motors is acquiring three-year-old start-up Cruise Automation to add Cruise’s deep software talent and rapid development capability to further accelerate GM’s development of autonomous vehicle technology. Fortune reported from an unidentified source “close to the situation” that the deal is valued at “north of $1 billion.”
The acquisition of Cruise is GM’s latest step toward its goal of redefining the future of personal mobility. Since the beginning of the year, GM has entered into a strategic alliance with ride-sharing company Lyft (earlier post); formed Maven, its personal mobility brand for car-sharing fleets in many US cities (earlier post), and established a separate unit for autonomous vehicle development (earlier post).
2nd Audi Autonomous Driving Cup
March 10, 2016
Audi Electronic Venture GmbH (AEV), a fully owned Audi subsidiary, is holding the second Audi Autonomous Driving Cup from 22-24 March 2016. Eight university teams will take part in the competition at the Audi museum mobile in Ingolstadt. The 1:8 scale automated-drive Audi Q5 models will face a challenging circuit, with prize money of €10,000 awaiting the winners.
Taking basic software supplied by Audi as the starting point, the teams have created their own software architecture to process the sensor data, interpret situations correctly and control the car accordingly. The aim is that the electric-drive model car should negotiate the circuit automatically as fast as possible, with a minimum of faults.
Mercedes-Benz launches new E-Class; new engines, PHEV, driver assistance systems; DRIVE PILOT
March 09, 2016
Mercedes-Benz has launched the new tenth-generation E-Class, introduced at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) this January. (Earlier post.) The new generation features technology innovations in a number of areas, including driver assistance and powertrains, with new efficient engines and a plug-in hybrid version.
Initially, the E 200 d models of the new E-Class will be available with an all-new four-cylinder OM 654 diesel engine (earlier post), while the E 200 will be powered by a four-cylinder gasoline engine and the E 350 d by a six-cylinder diesel.
BMW Group developing self-driving robots for supply logistics; recycled BMW i3 batteries for power
March 06, 2016
BMW is developing and testing a self-driving robot at the BMW Group’s Innovation Park in Wackersdorf. This center is the logistics hub for material management and just-in-sequence supply to BMW Group sites in ten different countries. Wackersdorf is also home to the cockpit production for several plants.
The self-driving robot maneuvers underneath roller containers with parts, picks them up and moves them through the logistics hall. Flanked by radio transmitters and equipped with a digital map, it drives independently to the destination of the goods.