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Driver Assistance Systems

[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.]

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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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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Non-intrusive bio-monitoring system anticipates driver fatigue in the vehicle to prevent accidents

July 23, 2014

The Instituto de Biomecánica de Valencia (Biomechanics Institute - IBV) and its consortium partners in the European project HARKEN have developed a non-intrusive system integrated into smart materials which is capable of monitoring cardiac and respiratory rhythms in order to prevent drivers from falling asleep. The two-year project had its final meeting in June.

The system is based on three main components: the seat sensor, the seat belt sensor and the signal-processing unit (SPU), which processes the sensor data in real time. All are invisible to the user.

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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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OpEneR: improving EV range by optimizing energy management

July 17, 2014

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OpEneR partners have developed driving strategies and driver assistance systems to improve the efficiency and safety of electric vehicles. Click to enlarge.

At its final review, the European research project OpEneR (“optimal energy consumption and recovery based on a system network”) presented collaboratively developed driving strategies and driver assistance systems to improve significantly the efficiency (and hence range) and safety of electric vehicles by optimizing energy management. (Earlier post.)

In comparison to a typical sporty driver, the OpEneR operation strategies resulted in a reduced energy consumption of 27 to 36%, with the trade-off of an increase in travel time of between 8 to 21%—depending on the driver’s willingness to follow the recommendations. Approximately 5 percentage points of the energy consumption reduction were due to intelligent torque distribution between front and rear electric motors in the demonstrators, which had no influence on travel time at all.

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New Mercedes C-Class Estate offers new 1.6L diesel, diesel hybrid options; gasoline plug-in hybrid model coming

July 15, 2014

Mercedes-Benz is adding a new Estate (wagon) model to its C-Class family starting in September 2014. The powertrain range for the Estate, which includes diesel, gasoline and hybrid options, features a new 1.6-liter 4-cylinder diesel (OM 626) produced by Renault. Compared with the predecessor Estate, certain members of the line-up consume in excess of 20% less fuel.

Depending on its configuration, the single-stage turbocharged engine generates 85 or 100 kW (116 or 136 hp) of power from a displacement of 1598 cc and delivers 280 or 300 N·m (207 or 221 lb-ft) of rated torque. Fuel consumption for both variants is rated at 4.3 l/100 km (54.7 mpg US) NEDC.

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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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World premiere of new Volkswagen Passat; 8th generation brings plug-in hybrid option

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The new Volkswagen Passat. Click to enlarge.

Volkswagen unveiled the eight-generation Passat (earlier post) at the Volkswagen Design Centre in Potsdam. The new Passat made its global debut with new engines, less weight and with the latest assistance, Infotainment and convenience systems. The new Passat delivers improved fuel efficiency (up to 20%); diesel and gasoline powertrains; up to 85 kg less weight, and a plug-in hybrid option. At 1.1 million units a year (2013) Passat is the Volkswagen Group’s model series with the highest volume sold world-wide.

The new Passat will be available with 10 direct injection turbocharged gasoline and diesel engines—all new to the model range—covering a power range from 88 kW / 120 PS (118 hp) to 206 kW / 280 PS (276 hp). The engines all meet Euro 6 emission standards and both fuel consumption and CO2 emissions were lowered by up to 20%. All versions are equipped with a stop-start system and a regenerative braking mode. A dual clutch gearbox (DSG) is available as an option for all engine versions, and it is standard with the top engine.

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Ford and Intel demonstrate in-car personalization with perceptual computing; Project Mobii

June 26, 2014

Ford and Intel are researching new opportunities for the connected car, including giving drivers the ability to remotely peer into their car using a smartphone, or a vehicle that could identify its owner using facial recognition software. The joint research project, called Mobile Interior Imaging, or Project Mobii, explores how interior-facing cameras could be integrated with sensor technology and data already generated within and around the vehicle to create a more personalized and seamless interaction between driver and vehicle that transforms the driving experience.

The Mobii research, which was showcased during the Go Further with Ford 2014 Trend Conference as part of the “Big Data” track this week in Dearborn, was a collaboration between Intel ethnographers, anthropologists and engineers alongside Ford research engineers. Mobii incorporates perceptual computing technology (now named RealSense by Intel) to offer a more enjoyable and intuitive vehicle experience.

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Ford unveils 2015 Edge; new EcoBoosts for N. America, diesels for Europe

June 25, 2014

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2015 Edge. Click to enlarge.

Ford has revealed the all-new 2015 Edge. The newest version of its crossover sport utility vehicle will go on sale in North America early next year with an expanded range of smart technology. Sales in South America, Europe—to include Western Europe—and Asia Pacific will follow. Eventually, Edge will be sold in more than 100 markets worldwide.

Two new EcoBoost engines. The 2015 Edge, now based on the same global platform as the Ford Fusion, will feature three engine options in North America, two of which are new powerplants: a standard twin-scroll 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder and a 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6. A normally aspirated 3.5-liter V6 engine will also be offered. All will be equipped with dual output exhaust and a six-speed automatic transmission. Edge represents the first Ford vehicle to feature standard EcoBoost power.

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

May 12, 2014

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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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Survey of power management control technologies for HEVs and PHEVs suggests future need to consider vehicle as part of larger system

April 11, 2014

A comprehensive survey of major power management control algorithms for hybrid-electric (HEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) proposes that future work will need to consider the vehicle as part of a larger system which can be optimized at an even larger scale.

This type of large-scale optimization will require the acquisition and processing of additional information from the driver and conditions outside the vehicle itself, suggests Dr. Andreas Malikopoulos, Deputy Director of the Urban Dynamics Institute and an Alvin M. Weinberg Fellow in the Energy and Transportation Science Division with Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).

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Honda to begin large-scale road testing of driving support system utilizing traffic signal information; goal of commercialization

March 28, 2014

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Image of how the driving support system utilizes traffic signal information. Click to enlarge.

Honda Motor Co., Ltd. plans to begin public road demonstration testing of its driving support system utilizing traffic signal information next month. The demonstration testing will be conducted in Utsunomiya City, Tochigi Prefecture in Japan in collaboration with the Tochigi Prefectural Police and UTMS Society of Japan, as part of research and development of the Universal Traffic Management Systems (UTMS) in which Honda has been participating.

UTMS is a new traffic management system promoted by the National Police Agency of Japan as a part of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS). The UTMS utilizes information communication technologies to realize safer and smoother traffic as well as to promote environmental protection. Honda’s large-scale road testing will help it verify the overall functionality and effectiveness of the system as the final stage of verification toward commercialization.

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Volvo Car Group initiates Scandinavian pilot using connected car cloud-based communication for slippery road warnings

March 19, 2014

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When the test car detects an icy or slippery road patch, the information is relayed to other vehicles that are approaching the slippery area. The information is also sent to the road administrator. Click to enlarge.

Volvo Car Group, the Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket) and the Norwegian Public Roads Administration (Statens Vegvesen) are joining forces in a pilot project in which road friction information from individual cars is shared within a cloud-based system. The real-time data about slippery patches on the road are used to warn vehicles nearby, at the same time as it contributes to making winter road maintenance more efficient.

When the Volvo test car detects an icy or slippery road patch, the information is transmitted to Volvo Cars’ database via the mobile phone network. An instant warning is transmitted to other vehicles that are approaching the slippery area, making it possible for the drivers to take immediate action to avoid a critical situation.

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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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Predictive Powertrain Control cuts test consumption in Setra coach by an average of 9.2%

March 14, 2014

In a European media test event, the fuel consumption of Daimler’s new TopClass 500 with Predictive Powertrain Control (PPC) (earlier post) fell by an average of 9.2%. Daimler has been citing fuel consumption improvements of up to 4% for the anticipatory cruise control technology.

More than two dozen journalists from the specialist press tested PPC intensively on the topographically challenging A6 motorway between Kaiserslautern and Grünstadt. On five days of driving they covered a total of 3,120 km (1,939 miles). The fuel consumption was precisely recorded using measuring devices. Three new Setra TopClass 500 touring coaches were tested in various versions.The three-axle super-high-deck touring coaches were each realistically loaded to a gross vehicle weight of 21.5 t.

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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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Nissan introducing smart rearview mirror combining LCD monitor and conventional mirror

February 28, 2014

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Smart rearview mirror. Click to enlarge.

Nissan Motor Company, Ltd., has developed what it is calling a “smart” rearview mirror—an LCD monitor that not only provides clear rearward visibility under various conditions, but also allows the driver the ability to switch between the LCD monitor and the traditional rearview mirror, depending on the preference. Nissan will introduce the Smart rearview mirror at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show.

The Smart rearview mirror is housed within the structure of the rearview mirror, with a built-in LCD monitor that can be activated in place of the conventional mirror. A high-resolution camera mounted on the rear of the vehicle provides the driver with a clear unobstructed view of the rear flanks, allowing the ability to check blind spots and other traffic conditions. The camera projects a clear image onto the monitor to provide the driver with a better view for a more comfortable driving experience.

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IHS forecasts 11% rise in China automotive semiconductor market in 2014 due to safety and navigation features

February 26, 2014

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Click to enlarge.

The fast-growing semiconductor market for China’s automotive industry is set for double-digit expansion in revenue this year, propelled by an increasing desire among Chinese car buyers for added vehicle safety features and helpful infotainment applications such as car navigation, according to a new report from IHS Technology (NYSE: IHS).

Chip consumption in 2014 by the country’s automotive industry will amount to $4.6 billion, up a solid 11% from $4.1 billion last year. This year’s projected revenue growth improves on the already strong 10% rise of the China automotive chip market in 2013, and three more years of similar notable increases will take place. By 2017, revenue will reach $6.2 billion.

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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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Mercedes-Benz unveils the new V-Class MPVs; full-size luxury diesel MPV with fuel economy up to 41.3 mpg

January 30, 2014

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Launch of the V-Class. Click to enlarge.

Mercedes-Benz unveiled the new V-Class full-size MPVs at an event in Munich. The V-Class, the successor to the Viano, is the newest and largest member of the Mercedes-Benz passenger car family. The new V-Class is equipped with four-cylinder diesel engines, offering fuel consumption as low as 5.7 l/100 km (41.3 mpgUS), or 149 g CO2/km, in the V220 CDI model.

The 2.1-liter turbodiesel engine for the V-Class offers three power output levels: 100 kW (136 hp), 120 kW (163 hp) and 140 kW (190 hp). Internally designated OM 651, the engine, which has proven itself in almost all car models of the brand from the A-Class to the S-Class, has been further developed specifically for use in the V-Class. The focus of these efforts was to combine the performance of a six-cylinder engine with the efficiency of a four-cylinder.

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New generation VW Polo features more fuel-efficient engines and advanced driver assistance; Polo TDI BlueMotion with 73.5 mpg

January 28, 2014

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The new Volkswagen Polo. Click to enlarge.

Volkswagen is introducing its next generation of the supermini (B segment) Polo, featuring a range of new EU6 engines that are up to 21% more fuel-efficient and new driver assistance technologies. All versions are available with a stop-start system and a regenerative braking mode.

The new Polo TDI BlueMotion takes the efficiency lead with combined fuel consumption of 3.2 l/100 km (73.5 mpgUS), or 82 g/km CO2. The Polo TSI BlueMotion, available starting this autumn, also marks the first time that a Volkswagen with a gasoline engine is being marketed as an independent BlueMotion model. The Polo TSI BlueMotion, equipped with a 1-liter, three-cylinder turbocharged direct-injection gasoline engine, delivers 4.1 l/100 km (57.4 mpgUS) and 94 g/km CO2.

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Subaru debuts next-generation EyeSight system; three new ADAS technologies coming this year

January 24, 2014

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The EyeSight system. Click to enlarge.

Subaru of America, Inc. has introduced a new and improved version of its EyeSight driver assistance system. The new system now features color stereo cameras which deliver an approximately 40% longer and wider detection range; brake light detection; and full functionality when the speed differential between the Eyesight-equipped car and another vehicle is up to 30 mph (48 km/h), up from 19 mph (31 km/h) previously.

Also debuting in Subaru models later this year are three additional advanced driver assistance (ADAS) technologies: blind spot detection; lane change assist; and rear cross traffic alert. These new systems will be introduced on Subaru’s product line-up starting in 2014.

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Ford kicks off new automated driving research projects with MIT and Stanford University

January 22, 2014

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Ford Fusion Hybrid automated research vehicle with four LiDAR sensors. Click to enlarge.

Building on the capabilities of the automated Ford Fusion Hybrid research vehicle unveiled last month (earlier post), Ford is working with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Stanford University to research and to develop solutions to some of the technical challenges surrounding automated driving.

The MIT research focuses on scenario planning to predict actions of other vehicles and pedestrians, while Stanford is exploring how a vehicle might maneuver to allow its sensors to peek around obstructions. Put another way, the purpose of the MIT project is enhance the utilization of the line-of-sight data already acquired by the Fusion’s sensors to provide augmented predictive capability, especially for pedestrians. The purpose of the Stanford work is to enhance the acquisition of non-line-of-sight data.

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TU München team develops new technique for accurate distance measurement by advanced driver assistance systems using cooperative transponders

January 21, 2014

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Basic concept for range detection using cooperative transponders. Click to enlarge.

As part of the “cooperative transponder” research project Ko-TAG (earlier post), researchers at the Technische Universität München (TUM) developed a new approach to distance measurement to enable advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) in cars to pinpoint the location of pedestrians and cyclists even in non-line-of-sight situations—i.e., when they are hidden from the driver’s view.

In this scheme, pedestrian’s and cyclist’s cell phones serve as transponders. On-board positioning systems compute the projected trajectory of the transponders and initiate an emergency braking sequence in case a pedestrian or cyclist moves into the path of a car.

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Audi wraps up Audi Urban Intelligent Assist (AUIA) project

January 10, 2014

Audi has wrapped up a three-year partnership launched in 2011 involving the Volkswagen Group’s Electronics Research Laboratory (ERL) in Silicon Valley and four leading US research universities to develop innovations in predictive driving technology that would allow a car to anticipate future traffic trends and to “learn” a person’s driving habits for a customized driving experience on each commute. (Earlier post.)

Audi this week demonstrated some of the early concept results of the Audi Urban Intelligent Assist (AUIA) project to media in San Francisco. The demonstration focused on two primary applications: Driver Centric Urban Navigation and Urban Assistance.

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Audi and TTTech present prototype advanced ECU for piloted driving at CES; computing capacity superior to entire current A4

January 07, 2014

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Audi AG’s Ulrich Hackenberg (Member of the Board for Technical Development) holds the prototype zFAS at CES. Click to enlarge.

At the CES in Las Vegas, Audi and its technology partner TTTech Computertechnik AG presented a prototype of the zFAS platform ECU for piloted driving. TTTEch is a leading provider of reliable network solutions based on time-triggered technology and modular safety platforms. (Earlier post.)

The highly integrated platform ECU zFAS is based on a complex multicore network, hosting sophisticated sensor fusion and a variety of innovative functions with multiple safety criticality levels for applications such as piloted parking or driving.

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BMW previews future driver assistance and connected vehicle developments at CES, including more automated driving

BMW selected the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2014 in Las Vegas as a venue at which to preview future developments and new applications of connected vehicle technology for series-produced vehicles.

Among these are a prototype for highly automated driving; vehicle functions on an electronic wristwatch (Samsung) as part of a research application; camera-based assistance systems bringing enhanced safety into new vehicle classes; and a new Parking Assistant with longitudinal and lateral guidance.

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INRIX partners with BMW to introduce intermodal navigation in the i3 and i8

January 06, 2014

INRIX is partnering with BMW to introduce of the first in-car intermodal navigation system. Debuting in BMW ConnectedDrive systems in the new i3 and i8 electric vehicles, INRIX Intermodal Navigation integrates local public transport connections into journey planning.

The service monitors real-time traffic conditions alerting drivers to faster alternative modes of transportation when major delays occur along local routes. Upon selecting an alternative mode, the system provides turn-by-turn navigation to the nearest public transport station in time for the next departure.

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NVIDIA unveils Tegra K1 192-core mobile processor; ADAS applications on the way to autonomous driving

At CES in Las Vegas, NVIDIA unveiled the Tegra K1 mobile processor, a 192-core chip featuring the same NVIDIA Kepler architecture that powers the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti GPU. Among its targeted applications—notably mobile gaming—are a variety of automotive applications.

Tegra K1 will drive camera-based, advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) such as pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning and street sign recognition, and can also monitor driver alertness via a dashboard-mounted camera.

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Toyota unveils Driver Awareness Research Vehicle

November 21, 2013

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DAR-V’s personalized information display on the side window. Click to enlarge.

Toyota used the Los Angeles Auto Show as the forum at which to unveil a Driver Awareness Research Vehicle (DAR-V). The DAR-V was developed in partnership with Microsoft Research to help reduce driver distractions before the key is even in the ignition. Utilizing Microsoft technologies such as Kinect, the interactive systems integrated into the design of the vehicle display important, highly personalized information on the side window when the driver approaches the car.

Using a combination of gesture control, voice and the key fob, drivers can navigate information such as updates on traffic and the weather, appointments and schedules for the day ahead, and even route details that might include a gas station if the vehicle is low on fuel. By addressing these critical daily priorities before even setting foot in the vehicle, a driver potentially has more mental bandwidth to focus on driving, Toyota suggests.

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Ford Edge Concept showcases new automated driving systems

November 20, 2013

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Ford Edge Concept. Click to enlarge.

At the Los Angeles Auto Show, Ford introduced a set of new prototype automated driving technologies in the Ford Edge Concept. The sensor-based driver-assist technologies and semi-automated features in Edge Concept form the building blocks for the future of automated driving, and will help make driving safer and more efficient, Ford said.

Fully assisted parking aid, a prototype technology, lets customers park their vehicles at the touch of a button, or even by remote control. The concept builds on Ford’s current active park assist feature. It can find a perpendicular parking space using ultrasonic sensors.

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Mazda suspends dealership test drives showcasing Smart City Brake Support after injury accident

November 12, 2013

Mazda is suspending all test drives intended to showcase the accident avoidance features of Smart City Brake Support until the cause of an accident with injuries in Japan involving the technology has been established and countermeasures taken.

On 10 November, there was an accident causing injury to a customer and a dealership employee during a test drive event to demonstrate safety features using a Mazda CX-5. The demonstration was organized and held by a company called Sakata Jidosha Kogyo, which runs three Mazda Autozam dealerships in Japan’s Saitama prefecture.

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Volvo Trucks announces XE11 fuel efficiency package for 11L North American engines; up to 3% improvement in fuel efficiency

October 15, 2013

Volvo Trucks expanded its XE (exceptional efficiency, earlier post) powertrain package lineup with the introduction of XE11 for its 11-liter Volvo D11 engine. Available on Volvo VNM and VNL models and rated up to 80,000 lbs. GCWR, XE11 is suited for less-than-truckload, distribution, bulk haul and other regional applications. The powertrain package improves fuel efficiency by up to 3%.

Volvo first introduced XE packages for its 13-liter D13 and 16-liter D16 engines. To date, more than 24% of all Volvo-powered trucks ordered in 2013 also feature XE powertrain packages. The XE11 package includes the following components:

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Panasonic develops high precision, wide field of view millimeter-wave radar technology for automotive applications

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The new high-precision radar keeps close objects separated. Click to enlarge.

Millimeter-wave radar is capable of detecting pedestrians and other vehicles in night time and under poor weather conditions. Panasonic Corporation has developed high precision, wide field of view millimeter-wave technologies that are able to detect cars, pedestrians and bicycles separately in less than 0.1 seconds, on the condition that they are separated by 20 cm.

These technologies will be applied to 79GHz radar, and utilized in detection sensors to avoid accidents occurring at intersections, accelerating the adoption of advanced safety support systems. These technologies also allow the operation of multiple millimeter radars, enables for a wider field of view (FOV) system.

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Toyota to launch advanced driving support system using automated driving technologies in mid-2010s; new pedestrian safety system

October 11, 2013

Toyota Motor Corporation has developed a next-generation advanced driving support system—Automated Highway Driving Assist (AHDA)—which uses automated driving technologies to support safer highway driving.

AHDA links two automated driving technologies to support safer driving and reduce driver workload: Cooperative-adaptive Cruise Control, which wirelessly communicates with preceding vehicles to maintain a safe distance; and Lane Trace Control, which aids steering to keep the vehicle on an optimal driving line within the lane.

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Nissan LEAF with semi-autonomous driver assistance systems cleared for public road testing in Japan; moving to Autonomous Drive

September 26, 2013

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The LEAF with semi-autonomous ADAS. Click to enlarge.

Nissan President and CEO Carlos Ghosn took delivery of Japan’s first license plate for a car equipped with semi-autonomous advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). It clears the way for a Nissan LEAF equipped with the technology to be tested on the public roads in Japan for the first time. The research program will accelerate the development of technologies fundamental to Autonomous Drive (AD).

The systems are designed to allow the driver to manually take over control at any time. The license plate includes the number 2020, which reflects Nissan's goal to be ready with multiple, commercially-viable Autonomous Drive vehicles by the year 2020. (Earlier post.)

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Ko-Fas project finds cooperative transponders and cooperative perception technology could bring significant road safety benefits

September 25, 2013

The 17 partners—including vehicle manufacturers BMW and Daimler; suppliers Continental and Delphi; and universities, institutes of applied science and research establishments—in Germany’s €25-million (US$34-million), 4-year Cooperative Vehicle Safety (Ko-FAS) research initiative presented the final results from the project last week in Aschaffenburg, Germany. The results showed that use of cooperative transponder technologies in combination with cooperative perception technologies could bring important benefits for road safety.

The aim of this project was to improve road safety significantly, with an attendant reduction in the number of road traffic accidents and fatalities. The approach centered on accurate detection of traffic environments using cooperative sensing and perception, comprehensive situation assessment to precisely evaluate collision risks, and subsequent activation of appropriate advance protection measures.

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NHTSA adds rearview video systems to list of recommended safety technologies to encourage broader use

The US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will add rearview video systems to its list of recommended features under its New Car Assessment Program (NCAP). NHTSA made the addition to the list of Recommended Advanced Technology Features to encourage improved rearview visibility for the nation’s motor vehicle fleet and to help prevent backover accidents while NHTSA researches implementation of a rear visibility rule in the form of an amendment to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) Nº 111 (rearview mirrors).

NHTSA will be including rearview video systems into the NCAP program in two phases. First, starting immediately, the agency will begin to identify on www.safercar.gov vehicle models that have rearview video systems. Next, as soon as the agency is able to verify that the vehicle model has a rearview video system meeting certain basic criteria, the agency will recognize those vehicle models as having this Recommended Advanced Technology Feature on www.safercar.gov.

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NXP and TTTech partner on automotive Ethernet switch chip; infotainment, advanced driver assistance and OBD over single twisted-pair cable

September 19, 2013

NXP Semiconductors N.V. and TTTech signed a Memorandum of Understanding to develop jointly automotive Ethernet switch solutions supporting OPEN Alliance BroadR-Reach Ethernet PHY (physical layer transceiver) technology. The switch chip will be specifically designed for the automotive market, but will also be suitable for various demanding industrial real-time applications.

The jointly developed switch chip will enable applications with unshielded twisted-pair cabling with BroadR-Reach PHY technology. BroadR-Reach Ethernet automotive technology allows multiple in-vehicle systems (such as infotainment, automated driver assistance and on board-diagnostics) simultaneously to access information over a single unshielded twisted-pair cable. By eliminating cumbersome, shielded cabling, automotive manufacturers can significantly reduce connectivity costs and cabling weight.

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Mercedes-Benz previews new GLA compact SUV; fuel economy as high as 54.7 mpg in diesel version

August 15, 2013

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2015 GLA-Class. Click to enlarge.

Mercedes-Benz previewed the new 2015 GLA-Class compact SUV prior to its global debut at the International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt next month. The GLA, which will go on sale in 2014, is Mercedes-Benz’ first entry into the fast-growing compact SUV segment. It is also the first Mercedes-Benz SUV to be optionally available with the new-generation permanent all-wheel drive system 4MATIC, with fully variable torque distribution. (Earlier post.) ECO stop/start is standard.

Initially the power range of the 1.6 and 2.0-liter gasoline engines will extend from 115 kW (156 hp) in the GLA 200 to 155 kW (211 hp) in the GLA 250. The GLA will also offer two 2.2-liter diesel variants. The GLA 200 CDI develops 100 kW (136 hp) and maximum torque of 300 N·m (221 lb-ft), with fuel consumption of 4.3 l/100 km (54.7 mpgUS) and 114 g CO2 per kilometer (provisional figure). The GLA 220 CDI develops 125 kW (170 hp) and 350 N·m (258 lb-ft).

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