Tag: cars

Europe streaks ahead of US in electric cars

Old carsEurope and China are fast moving to electric cars leaving the US to eat its dust.

Tighter emissions rules in China and Europe leave global carmakers and some consumers with little choice but to embrace plug-in vehicles, fuelling an investment surge.

The feeling is that in the next five years in Europe will see a focus on electric, hybrid, connected and self-driving cars.

In Europe, green cars benefit increasingly from subsidies, tax breaks and other perks, while combustion engines face mounting penalties including driving and parking restrictions.

China, is aggressively pushing plug-in vehicles. Its carrot-and-stick approach combines tens of billions in investment and research funding with subsidies, and regulations designed to discourage driving fossil-fuelled cars in big cities.

However while regulators in California and a group of other U.S. states are pushing ahead with state-level rules mandating rising quotas for electric, or “zero emission” vehicles. But plug-in registrations in the United States fell in 2015, and the market share of electric-only vehicles declined further to 0.37 percent in 2016.

This was caused by cheap fuel drove demand for gas-guzzling sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks.

President Donald (Prince of Orange) Trump has promised pledged to roll back environmental and climate rules to help out his chums in Big Oil and Big Cars.

Automakers have also asked Trump to work toward a single, national set of rules to govern automotive greenhouse gas emissions, a move that could spark legal challenges to electric car quotas in California and other states on grounds they present a separate standard.

Some car makers have worked out though that will not really solve anything. Ford is moving forward with previously announced plans to invest $4.5 billion for plug-in vehicles by 2020.

Chief Executive Mark Fields said that the industry is changing, the infrastructure’s starting to build, and that’s why our view is (that) within the next 15 years we’ll see more electrified offerings … than we’ll see gasoline-powered.

He recently unveiled a $700 million plan to build a battery SUV and other plug-in vehicles in Flat Rock, Michigan.

But to shift to electric, carmakers say they need more help from governments. While this is happening in China and Europe it is unlikely to come as Trump drags US industry kicking and screaming to the 1970s.

In China, Europe and the United States, automakers want new infrastructure money go to public electric car charging networks.

China will be a good place for car makers to sell electric cars, if Trump does not start a trade war.

Blackberry invests in driverless cars

BlackberryTroubled BlackBerry is going to write a cheque  for $75 million to invest in a new autonomous vehicle testing hub over several years.

The company’s chief executive John Chen  said the smartphone pioneer was looking  elsewhere for growth and most of its cash was going on engineering jobs.

The company, which is racing to increase software sales as its handset unit and related legacy service access fees shrink, hopes to make itself indispensable in the automotive industry’s looming self-driving arms race.

BlackBerry is hoping its security and safety credentials help it win a seat at the table as an array of automakers, chip and sensor providers and software developers work in competitive co-operation to bring self-driving cars to the mass market.

BlackBerry will initially work with middleware supplier PolySync and semiconductor company Renesas, as well as its hometown University of Waterloo on its autonomous driving project, but hopes to welcome more companies to its Ottawa facility.

The company’s QNX unit, renamed BlackBerry QNX, currently employs around 400 engineers, some three-quarters of them at its facility in Kanata on the outskirts of Ottawa.

BlackBerry has about 5,000 employees in total.

The embedded operating system market is likely to grow quickly as autonomous driving takes off,  but BlackBerry faces numerous competitive threats, including from independent embedded operating system producer Green Hills Software as well as chipmakers such as Intel.


Self-driving cars are safer

vintage-car-crash-2Self-driving cars are involved in fewer crashes on average than vehicles with a driver behind the wheel.

The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute has added up the numbers and divided by its show size and worked out that test fleets of self-driving cars have been having less accidents over the last six years.

To be fair, the study was commissioned by Alphabet Google unit so we would expect that finding.  It looked only at Google’s fleet of more than 50 self-driving cars, which have logged 1.3 million miles in Texas and California in self-driving mode.

The test fleet has reported 17 crashes over the last six years, although none were the fault of the self-driving cars, Google said.

The study estimated cars with drivers behind the wheel are involved in 4.2 crashes per million miles, versus 3.2 crashes per million miles for self-driving cars in autonomous mode.

Crash rates for conventional vehicles at all severity levels were higher than self-driving crash rates, the study found.


A study released in October by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute compared crash rates among Google, Delphi and Audi self-driving cars in 2013 and found they had a higher rate than for conventional cars.

But that study noted the low volume of driverless miles — 1.2 million compared with 3 trillion miles driven annually on U.S. roads.


Turn your car on with your Apple iWatch

Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 15.20.57A company has introduced an Apple Watch application which lets you find it, start it and manage it.

Connect2Car, which specialises in automotive digital applications, said the app will let people unlock the door, start the car, or find it if you’ve lost it in a giant car park.

The app interacts with other Connect2Car units which sell for between $139 and $199.

In addition to these features, the app also includes speed limit alerts, vehicle alarm notifications, and driving history.

The company has released the Apple Watch app in the App store, and it also an Android version of the application available on the Google Play Store.

Intel wants to tackle smart-car security

classic car, wikimedia commonsIntel wants to improve smartcar security before the technology starts to make much more impact.

Chipzilla has launched something called the Automotive Security Review Board (ASRB) to cut future cybersecurity risks to vehicles and drivers.

The ASRB will encompass “top security talent” worldwide with a particular bent towards physical system security.

Members of the board will perform ongoing security tests and audits to formulate both best practice recommendations and design suggestions to benefit automakers as whole, which will then in turn help keep drivers and passengers safe in today’s modern vehicles, Chipzilla said.

Fiat Chrysler was recently blighted by the fact that severe vulnerabilities were discovered within SUVs offered by the automaker. The models used the Uconnect connected car system, which was found to be vulnerable to remote attacks leading to engine control, placing drivers in danger.

Over 1.4 million vehicles have been recalled in order to patch the flaw.
Intel will provide the board with the company’s advanced development platforms on which to conduct research.

Alongside the launch of ASRB, Intel has published the first version of its automotive cybersecurity best practices, which will be updated as the board’s research continues.

“Unlike vehicle safety, security is as much an after-sale activity as a production one. When an automobile is on the road, vehicle software is at risk from vulnerabilities, intentional and accidental owner actions, and malicious attacks. Threat analysis and risk assessment continues throughout the life of the car as old vulnerabilities are patched and new ones come to light, so the risk of attack can even increase with time,” the report states.

Hi-Tech cars rejected by users

tv-carHopes that the car industry might save tech outfits received a blow after it was revealed that car users are not that interested in hi-tech gadgets.

While carmakers are adding everything from remote car unlocking to self-parking systems in their newest models as they try to make vehicles more connected to the internet and more automated, users are not interested.

The 2015 Drive Report from market research company JD Power found that 20 percent of new car owners had still not used approximately half of the technology features available in their vehicles after three months of purchase – the period after which drivers are less likely to adopt new features.

The most underused feature was in-vehicle concierge systems that can recommend nearby restaurants or gas stations. It was not used by 43 percent of respondents and followed by mobile routers that turn a car into a wi-fi hot spot, unused by 38 percent.

Automatic parking systems were unused by 35 percent of those surveyed, the report found.

That means car makers are spending more and drivers are paying more for potentially unwanted technology bundled into cars.

Drivers, especially those ages 21-38 use their smartphones rather than their cars to connect to their favourite apps or search for nearby services.

The survey found that even though Google testing a self-driving car and Apple working on its own version, 35 percent of new car owners never used their automatic parking systems.

Wireless future joins the dots

connect-the-dots-sportscarJVIS USA which makes vehicle wire-free charging products is forming the Open Dots Alliance – a non-profit organization to further shepherd and promote the world’s first and only open standard for wire-free power.

The standard is currently in use on 12 vehicle models across five major automotive brands.

“Consequently, the technology offers benefits that are not achievable by other standards.”

Dubbed Open Dots, the open platform is free of royalties or license fees, and it uses a pattern of four contacts (or dots) to receive wire-free power.

Wire-free charging is gaining wide acceptance among automotive manufacturers because vehicle owners want a hassle-free “drop and charge” means to charge phones while they drive. However, the Open Dots platform expands this ecosystem to include, tablets, laptop computers, power tools and other commonly used electronic devices too.

Mitch Randall, a director of Open Dots Alliance said that the standard employs a conductive technology that is fundamentally different than other technologies based on induction.

At Detroit at the Ward’s Auto Interiors Conference, the Open Dots Alliance announced its first user consortium, the Open Dots Alliance Membership Program.

Randall believes this will help ensure Open Dots products from various brands will work together and pledge not to make, sell, or resell ‘counterfeit’ conductive wireless products or gear that uses a similar conductive technology but do not adhere to the standard.

ARM places car industry in its sights

ARM logoBritish technology semiconductor company ARM said it is offering a safety package for its Cortex-A microprocessors and is broadening its aims in the automotive industry.

ARM said that advanced driver assistant systems (ADAS) for vehicles will need at least 100 times more computing performance by 2024.

The firm said that companies have to build safety cases on a chip by chip basis, and that involves both duplication of effort and higher costs.

AMR’s ADAS system, it claims, gives the promise of more intelligence and better road safety.

The safety features will include support for future Cortex-A processors but there are already initial packages for the Cortex-A57, A72 and A53 microprocessors.

The use of these systems will help firms meet safety standards including ISO 26262 and IEC 61508.

ADAS features are expected to grow at an 18 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the coming years.

Future developments are likely to use radar and vision technology, as well as other features including driver assist and “infotainment” systems.

ARM thinks it can increase performance by 20 times by 2018, 40 to 50 times by 2020, and 100 times by 2024.

Freescale and Texas Instruments have already announced they will support Cortex-A72 processors for vehicle systems on a chips (SoCs). High end vehicles already use over 100 processors, using tens of millions of lines of code, ARM said.

Smartphones drive car entertainment systems

Old carsBetween now and 2020 over 342 million connected entertainment systems for cars will ship.

That’s according to a report from ABI Research, which said there will be a swift move to “connected” navigation along with in-car wi-fi being available.

ABI said that over 50 percent of such systems will ship in Asia Pacific by the end of that period.

It’s demand from people that’s driving the growth, said research analyst James Hodgson.

And people want systems that they’re used to and likely based on smartphone designs.

That doesn’t necessarily mean Google’s Android operating system will be the only entertainment system when you’re driving in your car. Hodgson believes that Apple CarPlay, Android Auto will complement manufacturers’ own designs.

The advantage of using peoples’ smartphones means that car manufacturers will be able to keep their prices low rather than, er, re-inventing the wheel.

All cars will be connected

Old carsA survey estimated that by 2020 as many as 75 percent of cars worldwide will be connected.

Trendforce said that while there’s a future for driverless cars, which may rise to over million vehicles by 2035, that depends to a large part in R&D.

A driverless car needs sensors for reading bio data inside, and environmental data outside, on the standard of the communications, and also on how successful software developers are making decision making systems that work reliably.

All new car models now use a basic system using the Internet of Vehicles forthcoming standard, said Trendforce. That means that by 2020 we’ll see two thirds of the world’s cars pretty much connected and worth nearly $3 billion in revenues.

The old fashipned car manufacturers aren’t going to sit back and see Johnny Come Latelies like Google rule the playing field. Major vendors like TI, Infineon, and others are putting serious bucks into developing systems for driverless cars.

Over the next five years, even cheap cars will include Advanced Driver Systems that tell the human being steering the Buick that there may be accidents ahead.

Given the state of development right now, it’s possible that Trendforce’s 2035 figure may be a decade too conservative.