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[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.]

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.

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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.

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Musk’s “Master Plan, Part Deux”; expands Tesla to heavy-duty electric trucks and urban transport; integrated energy generation and storage

July 21, 2016

Elon Musk has, as promised, published his second “master plan,” composed with the help of all-nighters and the Gatsby soundtrack.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Google teaching autonomous vehicles to share road safely with cyclists

July 11, 2016

In the latest monthly report on its autonomous driving project, Google engineers outlined some of the steps they are taking to teach their self-driving cars to share the road safely with cyclists.

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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Continental acquires Hi-Res 3D Flash LIDAR business from ASC; highly or fully automated driving

March 03, 2016

International automotive supplier Continental has acquired the Hi-Res 3D Flash LIDAR business from Advanced Scientific Concepts, Inc. (ASC) based in Santa Barbara, California. The technology will further enhance the company’s Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) product portfolio with a future-orientated solution to add to the group of surrounding sensors needed to achieve highly and fully automated driving.

The Hi-Res 3D Flash LIDAR sensor technology provides both real-time machine vision as well as environmental mapping functions. This technology will help to enable a significantly more detailed and accurate field of vision around the entire vehicle, independent of day or night time and robust in adverse weather conditions.

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Nissan’s Intelligent Mobility vision builds on electrification, autonomous drive and vehicle intelligence

March 01, 2016

Nissan outlined its Intelligent Mobility vision at the Geneva International Motor Show. Created to guide the Nissan product evolution, Intelligent Mobility will anchor company decisions around how cars are powered, how cars are driven, and how cars integrate into society, all while staying focused on creating more enjoyable driving experiences.

At the core of Nissan Intelligent Mobility are three areas of innovation: Nissan Intelligent Driving, spearheaded by Nissan’s autonomous drive technology, Piloted Drive; Nissan Intelligent Power, spearheaded by electric vehicles (EV); and Nissan Intelligent Integration—new links between vehicles and society.

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J.D. Power study finds ACEN technology woes affecting vehicle reliability for consumers

February 26, 2016

Problems with technology continue to affect vehicle reliability for consumers, according to the J.D. Power 2016 US Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS). The number of problems with infotainment, navigation and in-vehicle communication systems—collectively known as audio, communication, entertainment and navigation or ACEN—has increased and now accounts for 20% of all customer-reported problems in the study.

ACEN is now the most problematic area on most vehicles and is the cause of the industry’s 3% year-over-year decline in vehicle dependability. Key findings of the study included:

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Volvo introducing Pilot Assist II semi-autonomous drive tech as standard on MY2017 XC90

Among a wide range of updates for model year 2017, Volvo Cars will introduce its latest semi-autonomous drive technology, Pilot Assist II, as standard on the XC90 in selected markets.

Introduced first in the new S90 premium sedan, Pilot Assist II adds steering assistance to Adaptive Cruise Control functionality. When the semi-autonomous Pilot Assist system is activated, acceleration, braking and steering are assisted in order to help the driver comfortably follow the traffic flow within the current lane in well-marked highway conditions.

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Study finds autonomous vehicles may plausibly nearly double, or nearly halve, road transport GHGs depending on the scenario

A study by a team from the University of Leeds (UK), University of Washington (USA) and Oak Ridge National Laboratory has found that vehicle automation might plausibly reduce road transport GHG emissions and energy use by nearly half—or nearly double them—depending on the scenario.

The researchers also found that many potential energy-reduction benefits may be realized through partial automation, while the major energy/emission downside risks appear more likely at full automation. In a paper describing the study published in the journal Transportation Research Part A, the authors also presented implications for policymakers and identify priority areas for further research.

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New algorithm improves speed and accuracy of pedestrian detection; cascade detection + deep learning

February 08, 2016

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego have developed a pedestrian detection system that performs in near real-time (2-4 frames per second) and with higher accuracy (close to half the error) compared to existing systems. The technology, which incorporates deep learning models, could be used in “smart” vehicles, robotics and image and video search systems.

The new pedestrian detection algorithm developed by Nuno Vasconcelos, electrical engineering professor at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering, and his team combines a traditional computer vision classification architecture—cascade detection—with deep learning models.

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Renesas Electronics and TTTech collaborate on new ADAS-ECU development platform with high computing performance and advanced functional safety

Renesas Electronics Corporation and TTTech Computertechnik AG, a global leader in robust networking and safety controls, have agreed to collaborate on the development of a new automotive platform solution aimed at providing a future-proof, high-performance advanced electronic control unit (ECU) development platform for advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and automated driving functionality.

The automotive platform solution will integrate Renesas’ automotive control microcontroller (MCU), the RH850/P1x, and high-performance R-Car system-on-chips (SoCs) with TTTech’s TTIntegration, a software platform, to enable highly complex automotive solutions including highly automated driving. Additionally to the physical integration, the development platform achieves parallel, multi-vendor development and integration of individual software components.

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Renesas camera video processing circuit block with low latency, high performance, and low power consumption for SOC for autonomous driving

At the International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) held in San Francisco earlier this month, Renesas Electronics announced the development of a new video processing circuit block for use in automotive computing system-on-chips (SoCs) that will support autonomous vehicles.

The newly developed video processing circuit block will realize automotive computing systems integrating vehicle information systems and driving safety support systems by enabling massive video processing without imposing any additional load on the CPU and GPU, with real-time performance, low power consumption, and low delay. Renesas intends to incorporate the new video processing circuit block into its future automotive computing SoCs to contribute to a safer and more convenient driving experience.

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Jaguar Land Rover in two UK projects worth ~$16M to advance connected and autonomous vehicle technology

February 01, 2016

Jaguar Land Rover is participating in two new projects in the UK worth a combined £11 million (US$15.7 million) to advance connected and autonomous vehicle technology. The £5.5-million (US$7.9-million) UK-CITE (UK Connected Intelligent Transport Environment) project will create the first test route capable of testing both vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure systems on public roads in the UK.

The three year £5.5-million MOVE-UK project, which is led by Bosch, is intended to help future autonomous vehicles drive naturally—more like human drivers rather than like robots. The project will also help develop future insurance policies for automated vehicles

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GM creates dedicated team to drive autonomous and advanced technology vehicle development

January 29, 2016

Effective 1 February, GM is creating a combined, dedicated Autonomous and Technology Vehicle Development Team. This team is tasked with accelerating the company’s technical capabilities and create the future direction of GM vehicle programs in the autonomous and “technologically advanced” vehicle space.

Doug Parks, currently vice president, Global Product Programs, is now Vice President, Autonomous Technology and Vehicle Execution. He will lead the team responsible for creating and executing autonomously driven vehicles in addition to advanced technology vehicle programs.

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New QNX software platform enables ADAS and automated driving

January 23, 2016

QNX Software Systems Limited, a subsidiary of BlackBerry Limited, earlier this month introduced the QNX Platform for ADAS (advanced driver assistance systems), expanding its portfolio of automotive software products. The QNX Platform for ADAS is scheduled for general release in Q2 2016.

Designed for scalability, the platform will enable automotive companies to build a full range of automated driving systems, from informational ADAS modules that provide a 360° surround view of the vehicle, to sensor fusion systems that combine data from multiple sources such as cameras and radar, to high-performance processors that make control decisions in fully autonomous vehicles.

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Bosch beginning autonomous driving testing in Japan; 3rd engineering location after Germany and the US

January 22, 2016

Bosch has begun on-road testing of autonomous driving in Japan, its third location for the development work after Germany and the US. Bosch’s initial goal is the development of the highway pilot, which will allow cars to drive autonomously on freeways and freeway-like roads starting in 2020.

Worldwide, nearly 2,500 Bosch engineers are working to develop driver assistance systems and automated driving further. Like their colleagues in Germany and the US, the team in Japan is already conducting tests with automated test vehicles on public roads. The test drives are being conducted on expressways around the cities of Tohoku and Tomei in the Tochigi and Kanagawa prefectures, as well as on the two Bosch proving grounds in Shiobara and Memanbetsu.

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Obama Administration proposes $4B to accelerate development and adoption of autonomous vehicles; policy update

January 15, 2016

US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced a proposed 10-year, nearly $4-billion investment to accelerate the development and adoption of safe vehicle automation through real-world pilot projects. Secretary Foxx made the announcement at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

The pilot programs, funded via the President’s FY17 budget proposal, would test connected vehicle systems in designated corridors throughout the country, and work with industry leaders to ensure a common multistate framework for connected and autonomous vehicles.

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Ricardo white paper outlines needed developments to realize autonomous driving

January 14, 2016

Engineering firm Ricardo has published a white paper—Key Enablers for the Fully Autonomous Vehicle—highlighting the technologies and development processes that are needed to develop commercially feasible self-driving cars that meet consumer expectations while also achieving compliance with likely future transport regulations.

According to the Boston Consulting Group, the projected size of the global autonomous vehicle market in 2025 will be $36 billion for partially autonomous vehicles (levels 1–3) and $6 billion for fully autonomous vehicles (level 4). This includes both passenger and commercial vehicle uses. The realization of fully autonomous vehicles will require further evolution in software, sensors, integration and efficient system testing beyond what is in place for current advanced driver assistance systems.

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IBM study finds consumers very interested in alternative ownership models for cars, self-enabling vehicles

January 12, 2016

Consumers expect to use cars differently—showing particular interest in self-enabling vehicles—though they don’t necessarily want to own one in the traditional sense, according to the results of IBM’s automotive consumer study, presented at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit. This presents opportunities for automakers to apply analytics and cognitive capabilities to develop new vehicle options.

A New Relationship – People and Cars,” developed by the IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV), reports that consumers also show a high level of interest in self-enabling vehicles, or cars that can learn, heal, drive and socialize. These capabilities include autonomous, self-driving cars, vehicles that can be fixed without human intervention and the implementation of cognitive computing to learn and assimilate to the driver’s behaviors, the vehicle itself and the surrounding environment.

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Ford, U Michigan collaborating on enablers for autonomous driving in the snow; high-resolution 3D mapping

Typical autonomous vehicle sensors are useless on snow-covered roads, but researchers at the University of Michigan and Ford are collaborating on a solution. In Michigan and on U-M’s 32-acre Mcity simulated urban environment, they have conducted what they believe are the industry’s first tests of autonomous vehicles in wintry conditions.

Fully autonomous driving can’t rely on GPS, which is accurate only to several yards—not enough to localize or identify the position of the vehicle. It is essential for an autonomous vehicle to know its precise location, not just within a city or on a road, but in its actual driving lane—a variation of a few inches makes a big difference.

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HARMAN introduces range of connected vehicle technologies and Microsoft partnership at CES

January 11, 2016

HARMAN International Industries made a number of connected vehicle technology announcements during CES 2016 last week, including a connected car computing platform, demonstrated in the Rinspeed Σtos concept car; an advanced navigation system with live data fusion; an open cloud-based software delivery system; and a new partnership with Microsoft. The company also introduced the first pupil-based driver monitoring system.

Connected car computing platform. HARMAN’s Life-Enhancing Intelligent Vehicle Solution (LIVS) integrates previously discreet or separate connectivity and operational domains under a new, holistic automotive computing platform. HARMAN says that LIVS is the industry’s most complete end-to-end system to provide drivers intelligent, adaptable and personal solutions in the car. HARMAN demonstrated LIVS applied in the latest Rinspeed concept car—Σtos—at CES 2016.

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Virginia Tech report finds national crash rate for conventional vehicles higher than crash rate of self-driving cars

January 09, 2016

A new report, “Automated Vehicle Crash Rate Comparison Using Naturalistic Data,” performed by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute and commissioned by Google, shows that the crash rates for self-driving cars are lower than the national crash rate of conventional cars.

Results show that when data is adjusted for unreported crashes and take into account accident severity, the national crash rate for conventional vehicles is higher than the crash rate of self-driving cars.

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Toshiba introduces new automotive Ethernet-AVB bridge; working with Qualcomm on advanced connected car systems

January 08, 2016

AT CES 2016, Toshiba America Electronic Components, Inc. (TAEC) introduced an automotive-grade Ethernet bridge solution for in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) and other automotive applications. The TC9560XBG supports standards such as IEEE 802.1AS and IEEE 802.1Qav, generally referred to as Ethernet-AVB (Audio Video Bridging). The Ethernet-AVB standard enables stable, reliable multimedia transmissions, making it suitable for IVI and telematics. (Earlier post.)

TAEC also announced it is working with Qualcomm Technologies to bring to the automotive market advanced connected car platforms powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 820A and Snapdragon 602A processors, and telematics solutions powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon X12 LTE modem. (Earlier post.)

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Renault-Nissan to launch more than 10 vehicles with autonomous drive technology over the next four years

January 07, 2016

The Renault-Nissan Alliance will launch more than 10 vehicles with autonomous drive technology in the next four years in the United States, Europe, Japan and China. The technology will be installed on mainstream, mass-market cars at affordable prices.

The year 2016 will mark the debut of vehicles with “single-lane control,” a feature that allows cars to drive autonomously on highways, including in heavy, stop-and-go traffic. In 2018, Renault-Nissan will launch vehicles with “multiple-lane control,” which can autonomously negotiate hazards and change lanes during highway driving. And 2020 will see the launch of “intersection autonomy,” which can navigate city intersections and heavy urban traffic without driver intervention.

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Audi to use Gen 2 zFAS controller in production e-tron quattro; piloted driving; moving to domain-controlled architecture

The production version of Audi’s e-tron quattro battery-electric SUV (earlier post) will be equipped with the second-generation of Audi’s central driver assistance controller the zFAS (earlier post), according to Ricky Hudi, Executive Vice President Electronic Development, Audi AG. The vehicle will be capable of driving fully autonomously, he said at CES 2016.

zFAS is the domain controller for Audi piloted driving systems. The information supplied by all sensors—including the signals from the 3D cameras, the laser scanner and the radar and ultrasonic sensors—is permanently fed into and processed by this module. With its tremendous computing power, the zFAS will be capable of continuously comparing the data from the vehicle sensor systems with the model of the road space and its surroundings.

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Qualcomm introduces Snapdragon 820A SoC infotainment and connectivity processors for automotive; expanding automotive investment

Qualcomm subsidiary Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., introduced its latest Qualcomm Snapdragon automotive processors, the Snapdragon 820 Automotive family, offering a scalable next-generation infotainment, graphics and multimedia platform with machine intelligence and a version with integrated LTE-Advanced connectivity.

The new processors expand Qualcomm’s automotive technology portfolio, adding to a collection of integrated solutions in the areas of telematics and connectivity, as well as high definition graphics and multimedia for rich infotainment systems, machine intelligence and sensor fusion for advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), GNSS location technologies, V2X (Vehicle to Vehicle/Infrastructure/Pedestrian) communications for improved safety and driver convenience, and wireless charging for electric vehicles.

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Thomson Reuters report finds established auto industry companies, not Silicon Valley, leading development of autonomous driving tech

Established automotive industry companies—not Silicon Valley—are leading the development of autonomous driving technology, according to a new report from the Intellectual Property and Science business of Thomson Reuters. The report, which analyzes global patent activity in the field of self-driving automobiles over the last five years, identifies the global leaders in the development of the technologies and also makes predictions about the future of driverless cars.

According to the report—2016 State of Self-Driving Automotive Innovation—there were more than 22,000 new inventions related to self-driving automobiles between January 2010 and October 2015, with some clear leaders already emerging in the space.

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Kia Motors introduces new DRIVE WISE sub-brand for advanced driver assistance and autonomous driving technologies

January 06, 2016

At CES 2016, Kia Motors launched a new sub-brand—DRIVE WISE—to encompass its future Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). Kia recently announced plans to manufacture partially-autonomous cars by 2020, and aims to bring its first fully-autonomous vehicle to market by 2030. (Earlier post.)

A preliminary $2-billion investment by Kia by 2018 is intended to fast-track development of the new DRIVE WISE technologies. The state of Nevada recently granted Kia a special licence to test the new technologies on public roads. Kia’s battery-electric Soul EV is acting as the brand’s testbed for the development of next-generation DRIVE WISE technologies.

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Toyota Research Institute CEO Pratt outlines initial AI/robotics mandates; trillion-mile reliability

Last November, Toyota Motor established a new company—Toyota Research Institute Inc. (TRI), an R&D enterprise with a focus on artificial intelligence and robotics—with an announced initial investment of $1 billion over the next five years. (Earlier post.) (The investment is in addition to the $50 million investment over the next five years with MIT and Stanford, each close by TRI’s new offices, to establish joint fundamental artificial intelligence research centers at each university.) At a press conference at CES 2016, TRI CEO and Toyota Executive Technical Advisor Dr. Gill Pratt laid out his new company’s near-term approach and challenges it seeks to address, as well as its much larger ambitions.

For the longer term, Toyota believes artificial intelligence and robotics offers the significant potential not only to support future industrial technologies but to create an entirely new mobility industry. Drawing an analogy to Toyota’s own history, Dr. Pratt noted that:

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NVIDIA introduces DRIVE PX 2 platform for autonomous driving

At CES 2016, NVIDIA introduced NVIDIA DRIVE PX 2—a high-performance computing platform for in-vehicle artificial intelligence applied to the complexities inherent in autonomous driving. DRIVE PX 2 utilizes deep learning on NVIDIA’s most advanced GPUs for 360-degree situational awareness around the car, to determine precisely where the car is and to compute a safe, comfortable trajectory.

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, to deliver up to 24 trillion deep learning operations per second, which are specialized instructions that accelerate the math used in deep learning network inference. That’s more than 10 times the computational horsepower than the previous-generation DRIVE PX.

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ARPA-E issues RFI on energy efficiency optimization for connected and automated vehicles; vehicle dynamic and powertrain control

January 05, 2016

The Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) has issued a request for information (DE-FOA-0001473) seeking input from researchers and developers in a broad range of disciplines including automotive vehicle control, powertrain control and transportation analytics regarding the development of advanced energy efficiency optimization technologies for future connected and automated vehicles (CAVs).

ARPA-E is interested in new and emerging full vehicle and powertrain control technologies that can reduce the energy use associated with automotive transportation, beyond those technologies currently expected to be deployed in future vehicles. The focus of the RFI is on the potential improvement in the energy efficiency of each individual vehicle in the automotive fleet through the improvement of powertrain control and vehicle dynamic control, by utilizing emerging technologies and strategies in sensing, communications, information, control and automation.

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Ford tripling autonomous vehicle development fleet; Gen 3 autonomous dev platform; new Velodyne LiDAR

Ford is tripling its fleet of fully autonomous Ford Fusion Hybrid test vehicles—making it the largest in the automotive industry, according to the company—and will use a new-generation sensor technology as the company further accelerates its autonomous vehicle development plans.

This year, Ford will add 20 Fusion Hybrid autonomous vehicles, bringing the company’s autonomous fleet to about 30 vehicles being tested on roads in California, Arizona and Michigan. The newest vehicles are on Ford’s third-generation autonomous vehicle development platform, built using Fusion Hybrid sedans, similar to the second-generation platform.

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GM to invest $500M in Lyft; creating integrated network of on-demand autonomous vehicles

January 04, 2016

General Motors and rideshare company Lyft are entering a long-term strategic alliance to create an integrated network of on-demand autonomous vehicles in the US. GM will invest $500 million in Lyft to help the company continue the rapid growth of its successful ridesharing service. In addition, GM will hold a seat on the company’s board of directors.

The GM investment is part of a $1-billion funding round Lyft is closing. In addition to the GM money, Kingdom Holding Company invested $100 million making the total investment of Kingdom Holding and its affiliates approximately $250 million. Several new and existing Lyft investors were also in the round including Janus Capital Management, Rakuten, Didi Kuaidi and Alibaba. Following this latest round, Lyft is valued at $5.5 billion, post-money. Key elements of the GM and Lyft alliance include:

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Toyota developing new cloud-based high-precision map generation system using data from production vehicles

December 22, 2015

To aid the safe implementation of automated driving, Toyota is developing a high-precision map generation system that will use data from on-board cameras and GPS devices installed in production vehicles. The new system will go on display at CES (Consumer Electronics Show) 2016 in Las Vegas next month.

Toyota’s new system uses camera-equipped production vehicles to gather road images and vehicle positional information. This information is sent to data centers, where it is automatically pieced together, corrected and updated to generate high precision road maps that cover a wide area.

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2nd annual Bosch analysis of ADAS finds emergency braking and lane assist systems on the rise

December 21, 2015

An analysis of new car registration in Germany for 2014 reveals that driver assistance systems are playing an increasingly greater role when it comes to purchasing a car. The importance of lane assist and automatic emergency braking systems in particular has grown significantly, according to the analysis by Bosch—the company’s second annual assessment of adoption of the technology.

According to the evaluation, based on the 2014 registration statistics, one in five of the nearly three million newly registered passenger cars in Germany last year were equipped with such systems. By way of comparison, the evaluation for 2013 revealed that the two assistance systems featured in only one in ten new cars.

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Ford to begin autonomous vehicle testing on California roads; Silicon Valley Lab accelerates Smart Mobility Plan

December 16, 2015

Fully autonomous Ford Fusion Hybrid sedans will begin testing on California streets next year, as Ford Research and Innovation Center Palo Alto continues growing.

Ford is officially enrolled in the California Autonomous Vehicle Tester Program to test autonomous vehicles on public roads. The testing is further advancement of Ford’s 10-year autonomous vehicle development program and a key element of Ford Smart Mobility, the plan to take the company to the next level in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience, and data and analytics.

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Mercedes adding semi-autonomous Active Lane Change Assist to new E-Class in spring

December 09, 2015

Mercedes-Benz will expand the new Driving Assistance package of the future E-Class for the market launch in spring with the semi-autonomous Active Lane Change Assist function. The radar- and camera-based assistance system supports the driver in changing lanes—for example, when passing on multi-lane roads. The system offers a significant further increase in comfort and can help to prevent collisions.

Active Lane Change Assist is a sub-function of DRIVE PILOT and thus a component of the Driving Assistance package from Mercedes-Benz, which will have its world premiere in the new E-Class next year. The new E-Class will be launched in Germany in spring 2016.

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Swift Navigation raises $11M Series-A round for high-accuracy RTK GPS for autonomous vehicles

Swift Navigation, a startup building centimeter-accurate GPS technology for autonomous vehicles, raised an $11-million series-A round led by Lior Susan and Pierre Lamond of Eclipse, with participation from New Enterprise Associates and Promus Ventures.

By moving GPS positioning from custom hardware to a flexible software-based receiver, Swift Navigation delivers Real Time Kinematics (RTK) GPS that is 100 times more accurate than the GPS in a cell phone at a fraction of the price of the competition. With more than 1,200 customers for its first product, Piksi, the company has already experienced high demand for its low-cost, high-performance GPS receiver.

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KPMG study finds autonomous vehicles & mobility services could add one trillion more vehicle miles traveled annually by 2050

November 26, 2015

Innovations in autonomous vehicles, connectivity, and mobility-on-demand will have a profound impact on consumers, particularly among younger and older people, according to a new study by KPMG. With these age groups set to embrace these technological and transformational changes, vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in the US will soar by approximately one trillion additional miles per year by 2050.

According to KPMG’s research, which consisted of consumer focus groups in Atlanta, Chicago and Denver, two generations will largely drive consumer demand in the future, the millennials and the “baby boomers plus”—ranging from 45 to 75 years. However, in every age group, participants showed significant attraction to mobility on demand for specific conditions or circumstances, including safety, weather, premium experience, and leisure time.

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IHS Automotive sees Google leading technology, testing, software development for autonomous driving

November 13, 2015

The key to self-driving cars is software that can interpret all of a vehicles’ sensors and learn to mimic the driving skills and experiences of the very best drivers. Google is the current technology leader in this arena, according to a report from industry analysts IHS Automotive: “Google Self-Driving Car Strategy and Implications”. IHS estimates suggest Google has invested nearly $60 million so far in autonomous vehicle research and development, at a run rate of nearly $30 million per year.

Unlike traditional vehicle manufacturers, Google also has the ability to leverage adjacent technologies and learnings from its other projects and investments—including robotics, drones and related technologies that help automotive operations, such as neural networks, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and machine vision. This provides Google researchers additional expertise not available directly to traditional OEMs.

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Ford first to test autonomous vehicle at U Michigan Mcity

Ford is the first automaker to test autonomous vehicles at Mcity—the full-scale simulated real-world urban environment at the University of Michigan. (Earlier post.) The 32-acre facility is part of the university’s Mobility Transformation Center.

Ford has been testing autonomous vehicles for more than 10 years and is now expanding testing on the diversity of roads and realistic neighborhoods of Mcity near the North Campus Research Complex to accelerate research of advanced sensing technologies.

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Kespry and NVIDIA demonstrate deep learning for commercial autonomous drones; NVIDIA Jetson TX1

November 11, 2015

Kespry, a commercial drone system company, demonstrated a prototype drone that uses NVIDIA artificial intelligence technology to recognize objects. The Kespry prototype uses the newly introduced NVIDIA Jetson TX1 module for deep learning, which offers complex algorithms to make autonomous devices more intelligent. The prototype is based on the Kespry Drone System that is in use by customers in the materials, mining and construction industries.

The demo was conducted using the NVIDIA Jetson TX1 embedded module—unveiled yesterday at an NVIDIA event in San Francisco. Jetson TX1 is a credit-card sized module that will enable a new generation of smart, learning autonomous devices. With its 1 teraflops of performance, Jetson delivers exceptional performance for machine learning, computer vision, GPU computing, and graphics, while drawing very little power.

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