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Autonomous driving

[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.]

Bosch completes acquisition of ZF’s share of ZF Lenksysteme JV; electric steering systems for fuel efficiency, ADAS and automated driving

January 30, 2015

The Bosch Group has completed its acquisition of ZF Friedrichshafen AG’s 50-percent share in the joint venture ZF Lenksysteme GmbH (ZFLS). Bosch now owns all shares in the formerly 50:50 joint venture, formed in 1999. It will be incorporated into the Bosch Group as a new division with the name Robert Bosch Automotive Steering GmbH.

ZFLS is a leading manufacturer of electric steering systems, with which it currently generates around 60% of its sales, which were around €4.1 billion (US$4.6 billion) in 2013. Alongside its potential to save up to 0.8 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers, electric steering is the basic technology required to realize a number of assistance systems in cars as well as automated driving.

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NHTSA to include 2 automatic emergency braking systems in NCAP recommendations

January 25, 2015

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) plans to add two advanced automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems—crash imminent braking (CIB) and dynamic brake support (DBS)—to the recommended advanced safety features included under its New Car Assessment Program (NCAP).

The addition is the latest in a long history of safety innovations covered in a new NHTSA's new report, which uses data from the agency’s Fatal Accident Reporting System to create a statistical model that estimated safety technologies have saved 613,501 lives since 1960.

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Ford opens new Silicon Valley research center; focus on connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, big data

January 22, 2015

Ford has opened its new Research and Innovation Center Palo Alto, growing its global research team and accelerating the company’s work in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, customer experience and big data.

The new Research and Innovation Center Palo Alto joins Ford’s global network of research and innovation centers, including its location in Dearborn, Michigan, which focuses on advanced electronics, human-machine interface, materials science, big data and analytics; and Aachen, Germany, which focuses on next-generation powertrain research, driver-assist technologies and active safety systems.

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New system uses monocular camera instead of expensive laser scanners for automated vehicle navigation with comparable performance

January 20, 2015

A doctoral candidate in computer science and engineering at the University of Michigan has developed a new software system that could reduce the high cost of laser scanners used in self-driving and automated cars by enabling the vehicles to navigate using a single monocular camera with the same level of accuracy as the laser scanners at a fraction of the cost. His paper detailing the system recently was named best student paper at the Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems in Chicago.

Ryan Wolcott’s system builds on the navigation systems used in other self-driving cars that are currently in development, including Google’s vehicle. These use three-dimensional laser scanning technology to create a real-time map of their environment, then compare that real-time map to a pre-drawn map stored in the system. By making thousands of comparisons per second, they’re able to determine the vehicle's location within a few centimeters.

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UMTRI researchers suggests safety expectations for self-driving vehicles may be overblown

January 16, 2015

In a new white paper, a team from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) discussed issues related to road safety with self-driving vehicles and concludes that expectations for improved road safety may be, in some cases, overblown.

In their paper, Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle assessed safety from four perspectives: 1) Can self-driving vehicles compensate for contributions to crash causation by other traffic participants, as well as vehicular, roadway, and environmental factors? (2) Can all relevant inputs for computational decisions be supplied to a self-driving vehicle? (3) Can computational speed, constant vigilance, and lack of distractibility of self-driving vehicles make predictive knowledge of an experienced driver irrelevant? (4) How would road safety be influenced during the expected long transition period during which conventional and self-driving vehicles would need to interact on the road?

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IBM automotive study sees consumer co-creation, greater personalized driving, but not widespread fully autonomous driving by 2025

January 15, 2015

During the Automotive News World Congress this week, IBM released results of its new Automotive 2025 Global Study, outlining an industry ripe for disruptive changes that are breaking down borders of the automotive ecosystem. The study forecasts that while the automotive industry will offer a greater personalized driving experience by 2025, fully autonomous vehicles or fully automated driving will not be as commonplace as some think.

The IBM Automotive 2025 Global Study is based on interviews with 175 executives from automotive OEMs, suppliers, and other thought leaders in 21 countries, detailing customer expectations, growth strategies, mobility requirements, ecosystem disruption and other topics shaping the direction of the industry. Entitled “Automotive 2025: Industry without borders,” the study was developed by the IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) as a follow up to “Automotive 2020: Clarity beyond the chaos.”

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Honda introducing first predictive cruise control system in CR-V in Europe

January 09, 2015

Honda will introduce in Europe the first predictive cruise control system, which Honda calls Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control (i-ACC), capable of foreseeing and automatically reacting to other vehicles cutting-in to the equipped vehicle’s lane. 

Based on extensive real-world research of typical European driving styles, Honda’s Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control (i-ACC) uses a camera and radar to sense the position of other vehicles on the road. It then applies an algorithm to predict the likelihood of vehicles in neighboring lanes cutting-in by evaluating relations between multiple vehicles, enabling the i-ACC-equipped vehicle to react quickly, safely and comfortably.

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Audi showcases piloted driving version of prologue concept hybrid

January 08, 2015

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Prologue piloted driving. Click to enlarge.

Further emphasizing its push towards production-ready piloted driving, Audi is showcasing a piloted driving version of its prologue concept hybrid—unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November 2014—at 2015 CES. (Earlier post.) The hybrid powertrain has a muscular 4.0 TFSI V-8 working together with a powerful e-motor. System power output of 505 kW (677 hp) and a combined torque of both engines of 950 N·m (700.7 lb‑ft) enable the Audi prologue piloted driving to accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h (62.1 mph) in 3.5 seconds. CO2 emissions are 185 g/km (297.7 g/mi).

The piloted driving technology applied in the prologue is the same as used in the A7 Sportback piloted driving concept car that drove from San Francisco to Las Vegas for CES, said Alejandro Vukotich, Head of Development Drive Assistance Systems for Audi AG. (Earlier post.) This includes the sensors and the zFAS centralized control unit. (Earlier post.) Audi presented a prototype of the zFAS at the 2014 CES.

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Ford announces Smart Mobility plan; 25 initial projects

January 06, 2015

At CES, Ford CEO Mark Fields announced “Ford Smart Mobility”—a plan to use innovation to take Ford to the next level in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience and big data. The initial step is the creation of 25 mobility experiments across the globe designed to help change the way the world moves.

Smart Mobility builds upon Ford’s Blueprint for Mobility (earlier post). As outlined by Ford Motor Company Executive Chairman Bill Ford in his keynote at the 2012 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the Blueprint for Mobility defines the start of Ford’s thinking on what transportation will look like in 2025 and beyond, and the technologies, business models and partnerships needed to get there.

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Mercedes-Benz unveils self-driving fuel cell hybrid luxury concept at CES; novel body structures

In a world premiere, Mercedes-Benz unveiled the self-driving fuel cell hybrid electric F 015 Luxury in Motion concept at the CES. In addition to its autonomous driving capability, a key aspect of the research vehicle is the continuous exchange of information between vehicle, passengers, and the outside world.

The drive system is based on the pioneering F-CELL PLUG-IN HYBRID system seen in the F 125! research vehicle from 2011 (earlier post), and combines on-board generation of electricity with an exceptionally powerful and compact high-voltage battery. The pressure tank made from CFRP is designed to store the hydrogen. (The drive system in the 2011 F 125!, which generated a continuous output of 170 kW (231 hp) and a peak output of 230 kW (313 hp), featured the latest Mercedes-Benz stack, a 10 kWh Li-sulfur battery, four wheel motors and structure-integrated hydrogen storage with MOFs.)

The stack in the F 125!, which is further improved with respect to performance, consumption and practical suitability, provides the power for four electric motors installed near the wheels. The modular e4MATIC system, which also uses improved drive components from the SLS AMG E-CELL, . This accelerates the F 125! to 100 km/h in 4.9 seconds, with a top speed of 220 km/h (137 mph).

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Volkswagen showcases inductive charging w/ “power lift”, autonomous and semi-autonomous capabilities & gesture control at CES

At the 2015 CES in Las Vegas, Volkswagen is showcasing the ongoing development of more connected, more intelligent vehicles by demonstrating four main aspects of emerging mobility technology: computer-controlled drive systems; app and smartphone integration; intuitive vehicle operation; and autonomous and semi-autonomous driving.

These technologies are realized in several different vehicles for CES: the e-Golf Intelligent Charge with inductive charging (with “power lift”); an e-Golf with Trained Parking; the Golf R Touch concept with gesture control; and the Connected Golf—an e-Golf equipped with the latest generation (MIB II) infotainment system incorporating a range of apps, smartphones and tablets via a progressive interface management system.

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Audi selects Altera SoC FPGAs for production zFAS piloted-driving systems

January 05, 2015

Altera Corporation announced that its SoC field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) have been selected for use in Audi’s advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) for piloted driving targeted for mass production.

Altera said that Audi and Austrian high-tech company TTTech, the core-development partner for Audi’s central driver assistance control unit zFAS (zentrale Fahrerassistenzsteuergerät, earlier post), chose the Altera Cyclone V SoC FPGA for its ability to increase system performance and enable the differentiated features Audi requires for piloted driving and parking not available with application-specific standard product (ASSP) solutions.

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Hyundai showcasing augmented reality, wearables and ADAS tech at 2015 CES

Hyundai is showcasing a collection of new technologies at the 2015 CES, highlighting a new augmented reality Head Up Display (HUD); new connectivity and 3D-gesture controls; and Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS).

Augmented reality head-up display system and wearables. Basic Head-Up Displays (HUD) appeared in cars the late 1980s, when they only offered the speedometer as a virtual image projected onto the windshield. The HUD found inside the 2015 Genesis includes driving information such as Smart Cruise Control status, navigation, Blind Spot Detection, and Forward Collision and Lane Departure Warnings. At CES, Hyundai is showcasing a production-ready augmented reality HUD concept.

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NVIDIA introduces DRIVE automotive computers at CES; teraflops of processing for autonomous driving and cockpit visualization

At CES in Las Vegas, NVIDIA introduced its DRIVE line of automotive computers, equipped with powerful capabilities for computer vision, deep learning and advanced cockpit visualization. NVIDIA will offer two car computers: NVIDIA DRIVE PX, for developing auto-pilot capabilities, and NVIDIA DRIVE CX, for creating the most advanced digital cockpit systems.

The NVIDIA DRIVE PX auto-pilot development platform provides the technical foundation for cars with completely new features that draw heavily on recent developments in computer vision and deep learning. DRIVE PX leverages the new NVIDIA Tegra X1 mobile super chip, which is built on NVIDIA’s latest Maxwell GPU architecture and delivers more than one teraflops of processing power, giving it more horsepower than the world’s fastest supercomputer of 15 years ago.

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Audi staging 550-mile piloted drive from Silicon Valley to Las Vegas for CES in Audi A7 Sportback concept

January 04, 2015

Audi is staging a 550-mile (885 km) piloted drive from Silicon Valley to Las Vegas, Nevada for CES this week using the Audi A7 Sportback piloted driving concept car. (Earlier post.) The test drive in real world traffic and road conditions represents a joint effort by the Volkswagen Electronics Research Laboratory (ERL) und Volkswagen Group Research and Development.

The A7 piloted driving concept utilizes the latest advanced systems developed by Audi. The concept relieves the driver of driving duties from 0 to 70 mph (113 km/h). The car can initiate lane changes and passing maneuvers. In addition, the A7 piloted driving concept accelerates and brakes independently. Before initiating a lane change to the left or the right, the vehicle adapts its speed to surrounding vehicles. If the speed and distance calculation is deemed safe, the vehicle initiates the lane change with precision and in a timely manner.

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Ford CEO: Ford to focus on 5 key areas of innovation: mobility, autonomy, connectivity, customer experience and performance

December 19, 2014

In a pre-Christmas media event, Ford president and CEO Mark Fields said while 2014 was a good year for the company, 2015 has the potential to be a “breakthrough year”. Fields said that Ford’s investments in products, people, plants and technology, combined with industry growth, are not only delivering a year of growth in terms of revenue, pricing power, operating margins and profitability in 2014, but are setting the stage for growth in and beyond 2015.

The global automotive industry is staged to experience $1 trillion of revenue growth over the next five years, Field said: from about $2 trillion today to about $3 trillion by the end of the decade. “That’s a tremendous amount of growth. We want to get our fair share of that growth.” In moving forward on that, Fields said, Ford will focus on five key areas of innovation: mobility, autonomy, connectivity, customer experience and performance.

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BMW to show 360-degree collision avoidance and fully-automated remote parking in multi-story garages at CES

December 15, 2014

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The driver has the i3 park itself in a multi-story garage using a smartwatch. Click to enlarge.

BMW will demonstrate new driver assistance and automated control functions including 360-degree collision avoidance and fully-automated parking in multi-story parking garages at the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2015 in January.

The platform for 360-degree collision avoidance is secure position and environment recognition; the research vehicle is a BMW i3. Four advanced laser scanners record the environment and reliably identify impediments such as columns, for example in a multi-story parking garage. If the vehicle approaches a wall or a column too quickly, the system brakes automatically to prevent the threat of collision. The vehicle is brought to a standstill very precisely with centimeters to spare.

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DOT releases ITS 5-year strategic plan with focus on connected vehicles and automation

December 12, 2014

The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has released a new plan for ITS (Intelligent Transportation Systems) research and priorities for the second half of the decade. The new ITS Strategic Plan 2015-2019 outlines the direction and goals of the Department’s ITS Program and provides a framework around which the ITS Joint Program Office and other Department agencies will conduct research, development, and adoption activities to achieve them.

The ITS Strategic Plan’s framework is built around two key ITS Program priorities: realizing connected vehicle implementation and advancing automation. The first builds on the substantial progress made in recent years around design, testing, and planning for deployment of connected vehicles across the nation. The second Advancing Automation: Shapes the ITS Program around the research, development, and adoption of automation-related technologies as they emerge. The priorities reflect a sense of where the bulk of transportation research and innovation is heading, but are not exclusive of other technologies or research areas.

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IBM Research and ASELSAN to collaborate on metal-air battery technology, focusing on EVs; mm-wave ICs

November 25, 2014

IBM Research and Turkish defense industry technology company ASELSAN (Askerî Elektronik Sanayii, Military Electronic Industries) have signed collaborative development agreements concerning research and development of metal-air battery technologies and millimeter wave integrated circuits. The companies will work together on these projects, and through these efforts ASELSAN will enhance its in-house research and development activities.

In 2009, IBM and its partners launched a multi-year research initiative specifically exploring rechargeable Li-air systems (one type of metal-air battery): “The Battery 500 Project”. (Earlier post.) The “500” stands for a target range of 500 miles/800 km per charge, which translates into a battery capacity of about 125 kWh at an average use of 250 Wh/mile for a standard family car.

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Delphi and CMU spinout Ottomatika partner to accelerate automated driving; “connected automation”

November 22, 2014

Delphi Automotive PLC, which already offers a suite of advanced driver assistance systems, will partner with Ottomatika, Inc., a spinout from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) led by Dr. Raj Rajkumar which provides advanced automated driving software, jointly to develop technology that will help accelerate automated driving.

Dr. Rajkumar is a professor in the department of electrical and computer engineering at CMU; co-director of the CMU-Penn T-SET (Technologies for Sade and Efficient Transportation) UTC (US DOT University Transportation Center); co-director of the General Motors-Carnegie Mellon Vehicular Information Technology Collaborative Research Lab; and led the development of the CMU advanced Autonomous Cadillac SRX. (Earlier post.)

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Expanded UMTRI study finds self-driving vehicles generate enthusiasm, concerns worldwide; interest highest in China and India

November 02, 2014

Despite safety concerns about equipment failure, a majority of drivers on three continents have high expectations for autonomous vehicles. Building on an earlier study on public opinion regarding self-driving vehicles in the US, Great Britain and Australia (earlier post), Brandon Schoettle and Michael Sivak of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) expanded their survey to include more than 1,700 respondents in India (527), China (610) and Japan (585). The report includes recently released findings from the same survey in the US, the UK, and Australia.

They found that about 87% of respondents in China and 84% in India have positive views regarding autonomous and self-driving vehicles, compared to 62% in Australia, 56% in the US, 52% in the UK and 43% in Japan. Half of the Japanese respondents were neutral, while the US registered the highest percentage of negative views (16%) among the six countries.

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Honda introduces new driver assistance system; SENSING first to be applied on new Legend in Japan

October 24, 2014

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Honda SENSING uses two sensors: millimeter-wave radar and a monocular camera. Click to enlarge.

Honda Motor Co., Ltd. is introducing a new driver-assistive system, Honda SENSING, which will first be applied in the all-new Legend mid-size luxury car to go on sale in Japan before the end of this year, and then successively to more models in the future.

Honda SENSING uses two types of sensors with different characteristics. One is a millimeter-wave radar located inside the front grille, and the other is a monocular camera mounted on the upper, inside part of the windshield. With further improvement in performance, the new millimeter-wave radar expanded its scope of detection to include pedestrians—regarded as being hard to detect due to their low rate of radio wave reflection as well as the position and speed of target object.

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Ford will roll out new Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection system in Ford and Lincoln vehicles globally

October 23, 2014

Ford Motor Company is introducing a new driver-assist system that can reduce the severity of or even eliminate some frontal collisions involving vehicles and pedestrians. Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection will debut as available technology on the 2015 Ford Mondeo on sale in Europe this year. (Earlier post.) It will then roll out to other Ford and Lincoln products around the world.

Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection uses radar and camera technology to scan the roadway ahead and, if a collision risk with a vehicle or pedestrian is detected, provides a warning to the driver. If the driver does not respond in time, the system can automatically apply up to full braking force to help reduce the severity of or even eliminate some frontal collisions. Pre-Collision Assist may help drivers avoid rear end collisions with other vehicles at all speeds, while Pedestrian Detection can help the driver avoid pedestrians at lower speeds—both may reduce the severity of forward collisions or even prevent certain forward collisions.

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Autonomous Audi RS 7 concept completes Hockenheimring lap at racing speed

October 20, 2014

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System components of the Audi RS 7 piloted driving concept. Click to enlarge.

At the DTM season finale, an autonomous Audi RS 7 piloted driving concept completed a lap on the Grand Prix track in Hockenheim at racing speed—without a driver. It took the Audi RS 7 piloted driving concept just slightly over two minutes to complete a lap on the track, piloted with high precision and accuracy to within centimeters. The five-door coupe is largely identical to the production model, but its electromechanical power steering, the brakes, the throttle valve and the eight-speed tiptronic are controlled automatically.

There are two primary technological considerations during piloted driving at such speeds: precise orientation of the vehicle on the road and absolute control of the vehicle at the handling limits.

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ONR developing offensive autonomous swarming capability for unmanned surface vehicles; adapting JPL’s CARACaS

October 05, 2014

The Office of Naval Research (ONR) is developing an autonomous offensive swarming capability for unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) not only to protect Navy ships, but also, for the first time, to attack hostile vessels.

The technology under development—based on the Control Architecture for Robotic Agent Command and Sensing (CARACaS) developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)—can be put into a transportable kit and installed on almost any boat. It allows boats to operate autonomously, without a Sailor physically needing to be at the controls. Capabilities include operating in sync with other unmanned vessels; choosing their own routes; swarming to interdict enemy vessels; and escorting/protecting naval assets.

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New Ford Focus in Europe delivers fuel economy improvements up to 19% with new 1.5L TDCi; 1.5L EcoBoost, Enhanced Transitional Stability

September 09, 2014

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New Ford Focus. Click to enlarge.

The new Ford Focus for Europe (earlier post) delivers the car’s most fuel-efficient powertrain line-up yet with improvements of up to 19%, and a significant CO2 emission reduction across the entire line-up.

The new Focus will be the first vehicle in Europe to offer Ford’s new 1.5-liter EcoBoost gasoline engine and new Focus also will be available for the first time with Ford’s 1.5-liter TDCi diesel engine. Ford engineers have further optimized power, torque and fuel efficiency from the 2.0-liter TDCi engine; and Focus will continue to be offered with the award-winning 1.0-liter EcoBoost gasoline engine, including a 99 g/km CO2 1.0-liter EcoBoost model.

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Cadillac to offer advanced V2V and semi-automated driving technologies in certain 2017 MY vehicles

September 07, 2014

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Super Cruise, GM’s semi-automated driving technology, will come to market in a new 2017 Cadillac vehicle. Click to enlarge.

Cadillac will begin offering advanced “intelligent and connected” vehicle technologies on certain 2017 model year vehicles, General Motors CEO Mary Barra said Sunday during her keynote address at the Intelligent Transport System (ITS) World Congress in Detroit.

In about two years, an all-new 2017 Cadillac vehicle will offer customers an advanced driver assist technology called Super Cruise (earlier post) and in the same timeframe the 2017 Cadillac CTS will be enabled with vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication technology.

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Honda to showcase new connected car and automated driving technologies at 2014 ITS World Congress in Detroit; driver-to-driver “virtual tow”

September 05, 2014

Honda will showcase several of its latest developments in intelligent transportation technology at the 2014 ITS World Congress in Detroit, 7-11 September. Activities include the first US demonstration of Honda’s automated driving technology with capabilities such as automated freeway merging; exiting; and lane changing, which will be demonstrated on actual Detroit freeways, as well as a unique vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) “virtual tow” capability for assisting a driver in distress.

Honda also will highlight other latest advancements in “V2X” technologies, including vehicle-to-pedestrian/bicycle (V2P/B) and vehicle-to-motorcycle (V2M).

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Toyota highlights coming advanced driving support system to launch mid-decade; new automated vehicle technology

September 04, 2014

At the fourth annual Toyota Advanced Safety Seminar (TASS) in Ann Arbor, Toyota displayed a range of its future advanced safety system technologies, including environment-mapping systems that can track objects on the road both day and night; 3D information displays that transform the ability to provide road information to drivers, and an advanced driving support system that will be available to US customers in the mid-decade.

In addition to demonstrating safety research underway at the Collaborative Safety Research Center and updating the public on the development progress of fully autonomous vehicles that can operate at high speeds and in inclement weather, Toyota executives revealed the status of several advanced automated driving technologies.

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Toyota expands Collaborative Safety Research Center with $35M; focus on transition to automated vehicle and connected vehicle technologies

With a new $35-million commitment that extends the center’s effort to the 2020s, Toyota’s Collaborative Safety Research Center (CSRC) is significantly expanding its mission to advance automotive safety research, with a new focus on the challenges and opportunities that evolving vehicle technologies will present over the next decade. CSRC will concentrate on supporting a safe transition to the future of mobility, particularly through emerging automated- and connected-vehicle technologies.

The CSRC was formed in January 2011 with three charter members; the first phase of research will conclude in 2016. Research under the new mission will focus on: developing human/machine interface (HMI) guidelines for next-generation automated and connected vehicle systems; the optimal user skills to operate these technologies safely; and the challenges posed by a US vehicle fleet that will likely feature automated and connected vehicles, as well as traditional ones, traveling the same roads.

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Volkswagen Group ERL working on more intuitive communications between driver, car and environment

August 06, 2014

As vehicle connectivity and advanced assistance systems become a ubiquitous part of driving, researchers at Volkswagen Group’s Electronics Research Laboratory (ERL) are working to create a “perfect driving experience” by enabling more intuitive forms of communications between the driver, the car and the external environment.

In a presentation at the CAR Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City, Chuhee Lee, ERL Deputy Director (who has said his imagination was stimulated as a child by Knight Rider’s KITT) said that the ERL researchers are leveraging three elements crucial for connected driving—the car; mobile devices (not just smartphones, but watches, Glass, etc.); and the cloud—to be able ultimately to design a vehicle that can learn, predict and adapt to drivers.

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Delphi to debut new Tech Truck at IAA CV show; new high-pressure fuel injection system and new HPDI injector for natural gas

July 27, 2014

Delphi Automotive PLC will unveil the second generation of its Technology Truck concept highlighting future technologies at the upcoming IAA Commercial Vehicles show being held 25 Sept - 2 Oct in Hannover, Germany.

Among the technologies Delphi will unveil is the next-generation fuel injection system for commercial vehicles applications. The system, which builds on the performance of its 2700 bar F2 common rail technologies, includes a patented fuel injector and will help vehicle manufacturers meet future legislated emissions and fuel efficiency levels. Also at IAA, Delphi will showcase the new second-generation High Pressure Direct Injection (HPDI) natural gas injector for heavy-duty engine applications. Delphi co-developed the new HPDI injector with Westport.

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Audi to demonstrate automated driving technology in Florida

July 26, 2014

Audi will be the first to test its automated driving technology on the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway in Tampa, Florida—which recently was designated as an automated driving and connected car test bed—using an Audi A7 equipped to handle piloted driving functions on freeway conditions up to 40 mph (64 km/h).

Audi believes this initial version of piloted driving—Traffic Jam Pilot—could be available to consumers within five years. As Audi outlined this type of piloted driving functionality at CES in 2013 (earlier post), the system is based on the functionality of Audi adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go, extended by adding the component of lateral guidance.

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New Volvo XC90 offering two new enhanced automated safety features and new automatic parking capability

July 22, 2014

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The new XC90 will automatically brake should the driver turn in front of an oncoming vehicle. Click to enlarge.

Volvo Cars’ new mid-size SUV XC90—which will be revealed in August—will offer two new “world-first” automated safety features: auto brake when turning in front of an oncoming vehicle; and a solution focusing on accidental road departure. These innovations will form part of a suite of safety features that will make the all-new XC90 one of the safest cars ever made, Volvo Cars claims. The company has a strategic goal that no one will be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo car by 2020.

The new XC90, which is based on the company’s Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) and will offer a plug-in hybrid version (earlier post), also features IntelliSafe support technologies including an extended Park Assist Pilot, which now also offers automatic reversing into a parking bay as well as entering and exiting a parallel parking spot. The XC90 can also display a digitally created bird’s-eye view of the 360° area around the car on the large center screen.

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Virginia Tech wins $55M in federal contracts for commercial truck driver safety and automated vehicle research

July 21, 2014

The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute has been awarded two federal contracts worth a combined potential $55 million to further study safety efforts for commercial truck drivers and break new ground in the burgeoning field of automated vehicles.

The contracts are being awarded by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) with a ceiling of $30 million for a five-year period, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) at a maximum of $25 million during a five-year period. Collectively, the contracts—both won this spring—are the largest of their kind awarded to the institute in its 25-year history.

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Nissan CEO outlines launch timetable for autonomous drive technologies

July 17, 2014

In a speech to the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan, Carlos Ghosn, president and CEO of Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., broadly outlined the Japanese carmaker’s launch timetable for the latest vehicle automation technologies aimed at accelerating consumer adoption of Autonomous Drive systems. (Earlier post.)

The Nissan CEO said new technologies including automated lane controls and highway traffic management systems, to be introduced over the next four years, would demonstrate to consumers the viability and value of Autonomous Drive systems, which Nissan intends to make commercially viable by 2020.

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Navigant forecasts 40% of new vehicles in 2030 will have some form of autonomous driving capability; 75% by 2035

July 11, 2014

In a new research report (“Autonomous Vehicles”), Navigant Research forecasts that by 2030, about 40% of new vehicles sold will have some form of autonomous driving capability installed. The company expects this to increase to 75% by 2035.

Although the first vehicles with some self-driving capability will come to market in 2020, Navigant said, it expects it will take another 5 years before volumes become significant. By 2030—if the recent proposed changes to the Vienna Convention (which would allow autonomous vehicles with a driver control override) are approved—Western Europe will be slightly ahead on first implementation, but the much larger automotive markets in Asia Pacific and North America will eventually lead, according to the research firm.

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Mercedes-Benz presents autonomous Future Truck 2025 research vehicle; “Highway Pilot”

July 04, 2014

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Autonomous driving in long-distance truck operations with the “Highway Pilot”. Click to enlarge.

Mercedes-Benz unveiled the Future Truck 2025 in Magdeburg, Germany. The truck is equipped with the intelligent Highway Pilot assistance system, which enables it to drive completely autonomously at speeds of up to 85 km/h (53 mph). Daimler Trucks demonstrated the vehicle on a trip along a section of the A14 autobahn near the city of Magdeburg, in which the Future Truck drove itself under realistic driving conditions.

The Highway Pilot is comparable to an autopilot system in an airplane—probably the most advanced form of autonomous mobility in existence today, the company noted. Mercedes-Benz will unveil the complete study of the Future Truck 2025 at the International Commercial Vehicle Show (IAA) in September.

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CMU demo’ing Autonomous SRX in Washington this week

June 25, 2014

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Sample images of urban driving and screen-captures of the Autonomoous SRX’s tracking system’s results. The images in the first row show detection and tracking results from an arriving area of Pittsburgh international airport. The other two images in the second row show those of an urban street. Cho et al. (2014) Click to enlarge.

Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) this week will demonstrate the CMU advanced Autonomous Cadillac SRX in Washington, DC. The car was brought to Washington at the request of Congressman Bill Shuster of Pennsylvania, who participated in a 33-mile drive in the autonomous vehicle between a Pittsburgh suburb and the city’s airport last September. Scheduled over two days, the demonstration will show how autonomous technology will eventually be fully integrated into vehicles that are currently on the market.

Developed with support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the US Department of Transportation, DARPA and General Motors, the car is the result of more than a decade of research and development by scientists and engineers at CMU and elsewhere. Their work has advanced the underlying technologies—sensors, software, wireless communications and network integration—required to make sure a vehicle on the road is as safe—and ultimately safer—without a driver than with one. (In the case of the Washington, DC, demonstration, an engineer will be on hand to take the wheel if required.)

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US Army, Lockheed Martin complete 2nd autonomous convoy demo; more vehicles, higher speeds. Update w/video.

June 12, 2014

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The AMAS CAD II convoy of driverless trucks. Click to enlarge.

The US Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) and Lockheed Martin successfully demonstrated additional capabilities of the Autonomous Mobility Appliqué System (AMAS) at the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site in South Carolina by conducting a driverless line-haul convoy with seven military trucks at speeds up to 40 mph (64 km/h).

The recent AMAS CAD II demonstration built upon the capabilities that were demonstrated at Ft. Hood, Texas, in January 2014, where three unmanned military trucks negotiated oncoming traffic, followed rules of the road, recognized pedestrians and avoided various obstacles at speeds up to 25 mph (40 km/h) in an urban environment. (Earlier post.)

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Volkswagen provides first technical details of Gen 8 Passat, including plug-in hybrid drive; multiple new assistance systems

May 27, 2014

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Among the features of the coming eighth-generation Passat is a lighter weight design and a new 2.0L bi-turbo diesel. A plug-in hybrid drivetrain will be on offer, also, making Passat Volkswagen’s third model with a PHEV option. Click to enlarge.

Volkswagen has revealed the first technical details of the all-new Passat sedan and wagon—including the plug-in hybrid drive option—ahead of the cars’ unveiling in July, their public premiere at the Paris Motor Show in October, and their arrival in the first tranche of world markets in the fourth quarter. The eighth-generation Passat leverages advanced materials—including high-strength, hot-formed steel and aluminium in certain areas—to drop up to 85 kg (187 lbs) compared to its predecessor, helping it to claim expected fuel-efficiency improvements of up to 20%.

A highlight of the new MQB-based Passat’s range of engines is a high-performance, four-cylinder, 2.0-liter, bi-turbo diesel delivering 240 PS (237 hp, 177 kW) and 500 N·m (369 lb-ft) from 1,750 rpm. This engine will be available only with a new seven-speed DSG gearbox and 4MOTION all-wheel drive. A plug-in hybrid model will also be offered, with potential to travel 31 miles (50 km) powered by a 9.9 kWh battery pack alone power alone, and with a potential combined maximum range of around 600 miles (966 km).

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UR:BAN research project gives mid-term update on advanced driver assistance systems, connected vehicles

May 24, 2014

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Mid-term review in the UR:BAN research project. Click to enlarge.

Partners in Germany’s UR:BAN research consortium recently gave a mid-term status report on the three major component projects in an event at the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) in Braunschweig, Germany. UR:BAN—User oriented assistance systems and network management—is developing advanced driver assistance and traffic management systems for cities. The focus is on the human element in all aspects of mobility and traffic.

Consortium members in the four-year project include: Opel; Audi; BMW Group; BMW Forschung und Technik; Bundesanstalt für Straßenwesen; Continental; Daimler; Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; Fraunhofer-Institut für Arbeitswirtschaft u. Organisation; GEVAS Software; Heusch/Boesefeldt; ifak Magdeburg; Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft des Saarlandes; MAN Truck & Bus; PTV Group; Robert Bosch; RWTH Aachen; Landeshauptstadt Düsseldorf; Stadt Kassel; Technische Universität Braunschweig; Technische Universität Chemnitz; Technische Universität München; TomTom Development Germany; TRANSVER; Universität der Bundeswehr München; Universität Duisburg-Essen; Universität Kassel; Universität Würzburg; and Volkswagen AG. Numerous additional university and research institutes as well as small and mid-size companies are also participating in the projects as subcontractors.

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Lux Research: self-driving cars will lead to a $87B opportunity in 2030, but fall short of full Level 4 autonomy; software leads

May 12, 2014

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Software will capture the largest segment of the autonomous car market opportunity, according to Lux. Click to enlarge.

In a new report—“Set Autopilot for Profits: Capitalizing on the $87 Billion Self-Driving Car Opportunity”—Lux Research projects that Level 2 self-driving will increase from about 3% of cars sold globally today to 57% in 2020, and 92% in 2030.

However, the firm also concludes, by that same year only 8% of new cars sold will attain the reasonable capabilities of Level 3 autonomy, and no Level 4 fully autonomous cars will be available. By 2030 automakers will be able to capture profits of about $9.3 billion from the emergence of autonomous vehicles, making this new technology an alluring proposition. Level 3 autonomy will be a premium option, opening the door to business model innovation if automakers hope to deploy it beyond some high-end vehicles.

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CAM/PwC name Volkswagen Group most innovative global automotive company, Mercedes-Benz most innovative brand

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Top spot went to Volkswagen Group, followed by Daimler, BMW, GM and Toyota. Source: CAM. Click to enlarge.

The Germany-based Center of Automotive Management (CAM), in cooperation with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) AG WPG, named the Volkswagen Group the world’s most innovative automotive company in its 2014 AutomotiveINNOVATIONS Awards; this marks the fourth consecutive time Volkswagen Group has picked up the top award. The Volkswagen Group also received awards in the “Conventional drives”, “Alternative drives” and “Networked vehicle” categories. Daimler followed in second place, then BMW Group, GM and Toyota.

CAM also selected Mercedes-Benz as the most innovative brand; BMW came in second, followed by Volkswagen, Audi and Ford.

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Google focusing autonomous driving development on mastering city street driving; patents piling up

April 29, 2014

Over the past year, Google has shifted the focus of its autonomous vehicle project onto mastering city street driving, according to Chris Urmson, Director, Google Self-Driving Car Project. (Urmson was the technical team leader of the CMU team that won the DARPA 2007 Urban Challenge, an autonomous vehicle race.)

Google’s autonomous cars use video cameras; 4 radar sensors (front, back, left, right); a laser range finder (Velodyne HDL-64E LiDAR) to “see” other traffic; and a GPS as well as a wheel encoder and very detailed road maps to determine the precise location of the vehicle. Google says that its autonomous vehicles have logged nearly 700,000 autonomous miles (1.13 million km) over the four years they have been on the road. Since its last pubic update in 2012, Google said that it has logged thousands of miles on the streets of Mountain View, California, Google’s home.

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Volvo Cars developing systems for Driver State Estimation; driver sensors

March 17, 2014

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A sensor that is able to monitor in which direction the driver is looking, how open the eyes are, as well as head position and angle is part of Volvo Cars’ work on developing systems that can detect if a driver is tired or inattentive. The technology is based on a sensor installed in the dashboard and small LEDs that illuminate the driver with infrared light.The information can be used to adjust the action of safety systems to the driver’s condition. Click to enlarge.

Volvo Cars is researching systems that can recognize and distinguish whether a driver is tired or inattentive. By placing a sensor on the dashboard to monitor aspects such as in which direction drivers are looking, how open their eyes are, as well as their head position and angle, it is possible to develop precise safety systems that detect a driver’s state and are able to adjust the car accordingly.

The analysis of the driver’s state, known as Driver State Estimation, in which driver sensors play an important role, is a field that may be key to self-driving cars in the future, Volvo suggests. The car will need to be able to determine for itself whether the driver is capable of taking control when the conditions for driving autonomously are no longer present. A driver sensor could be of assistance in this.

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Volvo Car Group tests road-embedded magnets for accurate positioning of self-driving cars

March 11, 2014

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Volvo Car Group has completed a research project using magnets in the roadway to help the car determine its position. A pattern of round ferrite magnets (40x15 mm) was located 200 mm below the road surface. The test car was equipped with several magnetic field sensors. Click to enlarge.

Volvo Car Group has completed a research project using magnets embedded in the roadway to help the car determine its position. The research, which has been financed in strategic co-operation with the Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket), is a potential means of implementing self-driving vehicles.

Reliable and highly accurate positioning is one of the crucial issues in the development of self-driving cars. While established positioning technologies such as GPS and cameras have limitations in certain conditions, road-integrated magnets remain unaffected by physical obstacles and poor weather conditions. Accordingly, the use of road magnets has attracted some academic research, as well as a number of patents filed on different approaches.

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Volkswagen Group’s new Future Tracks program targeting digitalization era in auto industry; “James 2025”

March 10, 2014

At the Geneva Motor Show and now at the IT trade fair CeBIT in Hanover, Germany, Volkswagen Group executive management has begun to outline its “Future Tracks” program which will address, among other things, what Chairman of the Board of Management Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn calls an approaching new era of digitalization.

In an address at the opening ceremony of CeBIT 2014 in Hanover in the presence of Federal Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel, the British Prime Minister David Cameron, the Minister-President of Lower Saxony Stephan Weil and Prof. Dieter Kempf, President of BITKOM, the IT industry Association, Winterkorn declared that the increasingly intensive networking of cars with their surroundings and automatic driving would be the key topics for the intelligent mobility of the future.

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Renault unveils Next Two autonomous electric vehicle prototype for 2020

February 06, 2014

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The Next Two prototype. Click to enlarge.

Renault has unveiled the Next Two concept—the company’s current vision of an autonomous drive (AD) capable electric vehicle for the year 2020.

The Next Two prototype—based on a Renault ZOE—focuses on two areas: the delegation of driving functions under certain conditions and connectivity. Using sensor technologies, Next Two enables the delegation of driving functions from the driver to the car in congested traffic up to km/h (18.6 mph) on main roads. It also offers an Automated Valet Parking function which permits the vehicle to park itself completely autonomously in car parks equipped to cater for automated vehicles. This includes both finding a parking place and the necessary maneuvering.

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US Army and Lockheed Martin complete advanced autonomous convoy demonstration

February 03, 2014

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Notional implementation of AMAS kits on a medium tactical vehicle. Source: TARDEC. Click to enlarge.

The US Army Tank-Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) and Lockheed Martin recently demonstrated the ability of fully autonomous convoys to operate in urban environments with multiple vehicles of different models. The test involved driverless tactical vehicles navigating hazards and obstacles such as road intersections, oncoming traffic, stalled and passing vehicles, pedestrians and traffic circles in both urban and rural test areas.

The demonstration in January at Boaz Military Operations and Urban Terrain Site in Fort Hood, Texas was part of the Army and Marine Corps’ Autonomous Mobility Appliqué System (AMAS) program, and marked the completion of the program’s Capabilities Advancement Demonstration (CAD). The AMAS hardware and software are designed to automate the driving task on current tactical vehicles.

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European research project AdaptIVe targeting advances in automated driving technologies

February 01, 2014

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Representation of AdapIVe’s working point between full driver control and full vehicle control. Source: Volkswagen Research. Click to enlarge.

A major European research project, AdaptIVe (Automated Driving Applications & Technologies for Intelligent Vehicles), targeting breakthrough advances that will lead to more efficient and safe automated driving kicked off at the MobileLifeCampus in Wolfsburg, Germany on Friday. AdaptIVe is an effort by a consortium of 29 partners—automotive manufacturers, suppliers, research institutes and universities, and small- and medium-sized businesses—coordinated by Volkswagen Group Research.

Over the planned 42-month duration of AdaptIVe, the partners will develop and test new functionalities for cars and trucks, offering both partially automated and highly automated driving on motorways, in urban scenarios, and for close-distance maneuvers.

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