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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.]

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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Jaguar Land Rover developing transparent pillar and ‘follow-me’ ghost car navigation

Jaguar Land Rover has launched a research project to develop technologies that will offer drivers a 360˚ view out of their vehicle (“360 Virtual Urban Windscreen”), uninterrupted by the pillars that support the roof. The company is also exploring “Follow-Me Ghost Car Navigation”, which uses a “ghost car” projected in front of the car for a driver to follow, aiding navigation on busy urban roads.

With “360 Virtual Urban Windscreen”, a screen would be embedded in the surface of each pillar inside the car and would take a live video feed from cameras covering the angles outside the car usually obscured in the blind spots created by the A, B and C-pillars. Pedestrians, cyclists and other vehicles would be visible all around the car—and by combining the transparent pillars with an advanced high quality Heads-Up display, the movement of other road users could be highlighted to the driver with an on-screen halo moving across the car’s virtual windshield.

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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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BMW i Ventures makes strategic investment in smartphone driving analytics company Zendrive

The BMW Group’s venture capital company, BMW i Ventures, has made an investment in the startup Zendrive, a company that uses data and analytics gathered from smartphones rather than OBD to improve driving through driving analytics. Related BMW mobility services investments currently include JustPark, Chargepoint, Life360, Chargemaster, and MyCityWay. The Zendrive investment is the first in a series of investment announcements that will be made in the months ahead, said Ulrich Quay, Managing Director of BMW i Ventures, LLC.

Zendrive uses the sensors on a smartphone to measure a driver’s behaviors; Zendrive’s Driver-Centric Analytics process the data from the phone’s sensors into a Zendrive score that factors in cell phone use, speed, swerves, hard stops, fast accelerations, fatigue, as well as weather, trip duration, time of day, and more.

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New Toshiba image-recognition processors for ADAS; night-time pedestrian detection and 3D reconstruction

November 14, 2014

Toshiba Corporation will expand its line-up of image-recognition processors for automotive applications with the launch of the TMPV760 series. Sample shipments of the first device, TMPV7608XBG, will start in January 2015, with mass production scheduled for December 2016 onwards.

With TMPV7608XBG, Toshiba is supporting the realization of next-generation Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). Support for standard ADAS features includes AEB (Autonomous Emergency Braking); TSR (Traffic Sign Recognition); LDW (Lane Departure Warning) and LKA (Lane Keeping Assist); HBA (High Beam Assistance); FCW (Forward Collision Warning); plus new applications that include TLR (Traffic Light Recognition) and AEB pedestrian (during both day and night), which will become part of the Euro NCAP testing program in 2018.

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NXP and partners launch European test drive to showcase the future of Communicating Cars

November 12, 2014

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Ready for the test drive. Click to enlarge.

NXP Semiconductors N.V. and industry partners Siemens, Honda, and Cohda Wireless have launched a “Communicating Cars” test drive along the ITS (Intelligent Transport Systems) Corridor across Germany, Austria and the Netherlands. Starting from the electronica trade show in Munich yesterday, the tour will see a convoy of Honda smart vehicles drive through 1300 km (808 miles) of roads, including ITS test fields in Munich, Vienna and Helmond fitted with Siemens intelligent traffic infrastructure.

The demo cars, which are fitted with secure NXP communications technology, will showcase the benefits of smarter traffic control including improved road safety and reduced pollution.

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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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Tesla adds 2-motor all-wheel drive and advanced driver assistance “Autopilot” to Model S

October 10, 2014

Tesla Motors is adding a two-motor all-wheel drive option for its electric Model S as well as a standard set of forward-looking camera, radar and 360˚ ultrasonic sensors that will, over time with software updates, provide increasing autonomous drive capabilities.

The two-motor all-wheel drive option—designated by the “D” teased by Elon Musk over which the Internet was all atwitter—is available on all three Model S variants (60, 85 and P85) at $4,000 for the 60D and 85D models and as a $14,600-option for the P85D. (The high performance P85D requires the Tech Package, Smart Air Suspension and 21" wheels as well.) D-model deliveries begin in February.

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Major refresh on 2015 Honda CR-V with new Earth Dreams powertrain provides fuel economy gain of up to 12%

October 04, 2014

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2015 Honda CR-V. Click to enlarge.

Honda has given its 2015 CR-V compact SUV, which launched in US dealerships on 1 October, the most significant mid-model cycle refresh in the 17-year history of the model. The 2015 CR-V offers a new direct-injected Earth Dreams Technology i-VTEC engine and new continuously variable transmission (CVT); a new suite of “Honda Sensing” safety and driver assistance systems (DAS); significantly enhanced exterior and interior styling; as well a long list of new standard and available features and a new premium Touring trim.

The 2015 CR-V features increased EPA fuel economy ratings of 27/34/29 mpg (8.7/6.9/8.1 l/100 km) (city/highway/combined) for front-wheel-drive models and 26/33/28 mpg (9.0/7.1/8.4 l/100 km) for Real Time AWD models, both increasing +4/+3/+3 mpg over 2014 models—i.e., an increase in the combined rating of 11.5% and 12%, respectively, compared to the 2014 models.

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Infiniti Q80 Inspiration concept hybrid delivers 550 hp with 42.8 mpg fuel economy

October 02, 2014

Infiniti unveiled the Q80 Inspiration concept car at the 2014 Paris Motor Show, it what it called a signal of its intent to break into the top tier of the premium sedan category; the concept will lead to a future model. The four-door fastback is powered by a hybrid electric powertrain that is expected to deliver 550 hp (410 kW) with fuel consumption of 5.5 L/100 km (42.8 mpg US) and CO2 emissions of about 129 g/km.

The powertrain incorporates a new aluminum-based downsized twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 that is part of a new engine family which will be introduced within the next two years. (Infiniti plans to double its powertrain range over the next five years.) The 450 hp (336 kW) V6 gasoline engine will be supported by an electric motor powered by a Li-ion battery pack, capable of adding around 75 kW (100 hp) hybrid power boost when required, and a 9-speed automatic gearbox.

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New Ford Mondeo to offer new high-power diesel, 1L EcoBoost, hybrid model, pedestrian detection technology

September 24, 2014

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Mondeo 5-door. Click to enlarge.

Ford Motor Company announced that the all-new Ford Mondeo (which is badged as Fusion in the US) in Europe will offer a new high-power diesel engine in addition to a new 1.0L EcoBoost gasoline engine option and a new hybrid option. The new Mondeo goes on sale as a four-door hybrid, five-door or wagon in dealerships across Europe later this year. The high-powered diesel will be available in early 2015.

Additionally, the new Mondeo will be Ford’s first car globally to offer a new pedestrian detection technology that could help reduce the severity of accidents or help drivers avoid them altogether.

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Siemens equipping EV with new information and communications technology concept developed by RACE project

September 17, 2014

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Prof. Armin Schnettler from Siemens’ central research department and Prof. Achim Kampker, Managing Director of StreetScooter, agreed to equip a StreetScooter EV with an innovative electronic and software architecture by end of 2014. Click to enlarge.

Siemens will equipping an electric car with a completely redesigned information and communications technology (ICT). Basically, the idea is to control a variety of vehicle functions on a uniform, centralized computer platform instead of providing every system with its own hardware and software as today.

The new ICT concept was developed by Siemens’ global Corporate Technology (CT) department and its partners in the German government-funded RACE (Robust and Reliant Automotive Computing Environment for Future eCars) project. (Earlier post.)

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Ford introduces new C-MAX and Grand C-MAX with standard Start-Stop on new EcoBoost and diesel engines

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New Ford C-MAX. Click to enlarge.

Ford of Europe has unveiled the new C-MAX and Grand C-MAX prior to the Paris Motor Show. The models offer significantly improved CO2 figures and for the first time feature as standard Ford’s Auto-Start-Stop technology on EcoBoost gasoline and 2.0-liter TDCi diesel engines. The most improved model is expected to offer a 20% reduction in CO2 emissions.

The new C-MAX family powertrain line-up is being extended to include Ford’s fuel-efficient new 1.5-liter EcoBoost gasoline engine with 150 PS (110 kW) and 182 PS (134 kW), and also will be offered with Ford’s new 1.5-liter TDCi diesel engine, delivering 95 PS (70 kW) or 120 PS (88 kW), and a new ECOnetic version that is expected to deliver 99 g/km CO2 in the five-seat C-MAX. The C-MAX family will continue to be offered with 100 PS (74 kW) and 125 PS (92 kW) versions of the multi-award winning 1.0-liter EcoBoost gasoline engine.

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Ford reveals all-new S-MAX; Adaptive Steering Technology

Ford of Europe revealed the all-new S‑MAX seven-seat sports activity vehicle. The new S-MAX will debut Ford Adaptive Steering technology in Europe for optimized response to driver input when it goes on sale in 2015. It will also offer Intelligent All-Wheel Drive and a range of powertrains—including a new 1.5-liter EcoBoost gasoline engine.

S-MAX will also be the first Ford globally to feature Ford Dynamic LED Headlamps with Glare-Free Highbeam that maintain maximum illumination without distracting other road users. Ford’s advanced Pre-Collision Assist technology will assist in mitigating accidents even at motorway speeds.

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Renault Trucks’ Optifuel Lab 2 lab vehicle integrates technologies for more efficient big rigs; road test results coming in 2015

September 11, 2014

Renault Trucks’ heavy-duty Optifuel Lab 2 laboratory vehicle brings together various technologies designed to reduce fuel consumption in heavy-duty trucks and to prepare the way for future production models. Renault Trucks will display a scale model of Optifuel Lab 2 at the upcoming IAA. The vehicle is currently on the road to calculate the fuel savings it can achieve. These figures will be announced during the first quarter of 2015.

Optifuel Lab 2 has 20 technologies on board, each one of which addresses the four main issues associated with consumption: energy management, aerodynamics, wheel resistance and driving aids. Based on a Renault Trucks T, Optifuel Lab 2 is an ongoing version of the Optifuel Lab 1 introduced in 2009. The project has been developed with support from eight partners: Plastic Omnium, Michelin, Sunpower, Renault, IFP Energies Nouvelles, CEP-Armines, CETHIL-INSA from Lyon and LMFA-Ecole Centrale from Lyon. It is also supported by ADEMA, the French Agency for the Environment and Energy Control.

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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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UC Riverside team shows new eco-routing navigation tool can cut EV energy use up to 51%

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering have shown that a vehicle navigation tool they created can cut electric vehicle energy use up to 51%. The researchers outlined their findings in a report to the California Energy Commission, which paid for the study with a $95,000 grant. (Earlier post.)

The researchers tested the “eco-routing” navigation system—which takes into account real-time traffic information, road type and road grade—on three routes around Riverside. Using road testing and computer simulations, they studied three types of navigation systems: shortest distance; least time; and least energy. They found energy savings between 25% and 51% when they took the route that the navigation system said would take the least amount of time. The tradeoff is that the travel distance increased between 3% and 19%.

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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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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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Mercedes-Benz developing Blind Spot Assist system for heavy-duty trucks

September 02, 2014

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An LED warning light on the A-pillar on the co-driver’s side and an acoustic warning alert the driver to an impending collision. Click to enlarge.

Collisions when turning corners are among the most common and most serious types of accidents associated with trucks and unprotected road users. To address this, Mercedes-Benz is developing a Blind Spot Assist system for its heavy-duty trucks. The system, which utilizes a radar sensor monitoring the area next to the co-driver’s side of the truck, reliably warns the driver about dangers when turning corners in critical situations with restricted vision.

The system also takes into account the tractix curve of the semitrailer and therefore also warns if there is a danger of a collision with stationary obstacles such as traffic lights or street lamps. It also supports the driver when changing lanes.

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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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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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