Opinion: How the ‘digital cockpit’ will improve user experience, both now and in autonomous vehicles

By Arvin Baalu, vice president of the integrated digital cockpit platform group at Harman International

As the automotive industry continues on the road to autonomous vehicles, user experience will be a decisive purchase factor.

Harman believes that key to achieving positive user experiences will be an integrated digital cockpit that ensures the “driver” does not feel redundant as the car begins to take control. ‎ Continue reading Opinion: How the ‘digital cockpit’ will improve user experience, both now and in autonomous vehicles

Kuka wins multi-million-dollar order to supply robotic work cell to make batteries for electric vehicles

Industrial robotics and automation company Kuka Industries has received an order from what it says is “a leading European manufacturer in the automotive industry” to supply a battery production system. 

Kuka Industries, which is part of Kuka, would not say which company it was which placed the order, but it has supplied the same company before with a similar system, and now the customer seems to be selling or expecting to sell more electric cars, or maybe battery systems for electric vehicles.

Kuka says the order value lies in the “mid-double-digit million euro range” and was booked in the second quarter of 2017. Start of production is planned for mid-2019.  Continue reading Kuka wins multi-million-dollar order to supply robotic work cell to make batteries for electric vehicles

Mazda to make all its vehicles autonomous by 2025

Mazda has stated its intention to make all of its vehicles autonomous by 2025 as part of a broader plan to transform the entire company by 2030.

The company says it will “begin testing of autonomous driving technologies currently being developed in line with Mazda’s human-centered Mazda Co-Pilot Concept in 2020, aiming to make the system standard on all models by 2025”.

Mazda says it wants to build cars that “provide safety peace of mind”, and that provide “unrestricted mobility to people everywhere”.  Continue reading Mazda to make all its vehicles autonomous by 2025

Qualcomm and Apple’s legal battle may indicate the future of cars, as Foxconn looks to build driverless tech factory

The legal battle between Qualcomm and Apple may portend the future direction of car technology.

Qualcomm says Apple manufacturers are not paying the correct amount of money for the chipmaker’s intellectual property the iPhone maker is licensing – basically they’re not paying anything.

The lower, or absent, payments probably account for Qualcomm’s patent licensing business falling 42 per cent this year, according to CNBC.  Continue reading Qualcomm and Apple’s legal battle may indicate the future of cars, as Foxconn looks to build driverless tech factory

Intel to build fleet of 100 autonomous vehicles

Determined not to miss out like it did on the smartphone revolution, Intel is developing 100 of its own autonomous cars. 

Intel is still the largest chipmaker in the world in many sectors but in mobile computing technology, other companies have taken the lead.

But there’s not many things as mobile as a road-going vehicle, and newer versions of them need more chips than ever.  Continue reading Intel to build fleet of 100 autonomous vehicles

Opec and big oil eyeing electric cars with trepidation, says Bloomberg

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Opec, and big oil companies around the world are looking at the growing popularity of electric cars anew, and revising their forecasts, according to a new report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance

The prospect of a massive trend that shows consumers turning away from petrol-driven vehicles would have huge implications for the oil industry.

Petrol-driven vehicles account for almost half of oil production demand, according to the US Department of Energy, while other sources say it’s more than 50 per cent.  Continue reading Opec and big oil eyeing electric cars with trepidation, says Bloomberg

What will America’s roads and highways look like in the future?

The New Jersey Institute of Technology has been looking into the future to see how roads and highways will change over the next few years, and found a significant proportion of roadways in a poor state. 

Across the United States, says the NJIT, there are more than 4 million miles of public roadways, and 28 percent are listed as being in “poor condition”.

Throughout those roadways, 61,000 bridges are considered “structurally deficient”.

On top of the needs for rebuilding US roadways, 42 percent of America’s major urban highways remain congested, which costs an estimated $101 billion in wasted time and fuel annually.  Continue reading What will America’s roads and highways look like in the future?

Electric cars will change the way industrial robots are used in manufacturing, says Fanuc boss

fanuc flow drilling robot

With Volvo’s decision to go all electric in its future vehicles, combined with the French government’s decision to ban sales of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040 and similar moves in Germany, the automotive industry is preparing for a tectonic shift in the manufacturing landscape. 

The way electric cars are made already differ considerably now, and new techniques will take the production of the new vehicles further away from traditional methods.

An interesting insight into the future was offered by a senior executive at the world’s largest industrial robot manufacturer, who suggested that electric cars are highly likely to fundamentally change the way industrial robots are used.  Continue reading Electric cars will change the way industrial robots are used in manufacturing, says Fanuc boss

Growing market for advanced driver assistance systems brings big bucks for Bosch

dirk hoheisel
Dirk Hoheisel, Bosch board member responsible for mobility solutions, making his presentation

The demand for advanced driver assistance systems is surging, according to Bosch, which says it pocketed almost $4 billion last year from supplying the technology. 

The company is developing a range of hardware and software solutions for what it calls automated driving, and one of them is an onboard artificial intelligence-driven computer, which will go into production within the next few years.

ADAS is often seen as autonomous – or driverless – car technology, except it’s integrated into cars already being purchased in large numbers today.  Continue reading Growing market for advanced driver assistance systems brings big bucks for Bosch

World’s largest automotive companies and an intro to their autonomous and electric vehicle tech moves

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A picture of a car production line, this one in an Audi factory

In the first of a series of articles about large industrial companies, we list 20 of the leading automakers in the world in order of their last reported annual revenue amount, and highlight some of their more interesting developments in autonomous technologies. 

Automakers are have long been the largest market for industrial robotics and automation systems, but also, more recently, the vehicles they produce have become more robotic.

The design and development of road vehicles are becoming increasingly an exercise in developing computing technology – both hardware and software. Add to that the growing importance of artificial intelligence to run the advanced driver assistance systems that many new cars already have. Continue reading World’s largest automotive companies and an intro to their autonomous and electric vehicle tech moves

China’s enthusiasm for robots and electric cars creating oversupply of clean technology

hit robot polishing-for-each-product
A jade-polishing robot produced by the HIT Robot Group, one of China’s largest robot makers

China’s enthusiasm for new technology, combined with its paranoia about being left behind in a globally intensifying high-tech competition, sometimes leads it to create small bubbles in its economy which may or may not dissipate in the disciplined manner in which the markets they encompass may have emerged in the first place. 

Two years ago, the government of the world’s most populous nation of 1.4 billion people launched a 10-year national plan to “transform China from a manufacturing giant into a world manufacturing power”, in the words of XinhuaNet, the state propaganda outlet.  Continue reading China’s enthusiasm for robots and electric cars creating oversupply of clean technology

Daimler lays foundation stone for $280 million Mercedes-Benz plant in Russia

Bense, von Fritsch, Schaefer, Manturov, Ruess and Vorobyov attend a new Mercedes-Benz plant's cornerstone laying ceremony in the town of Esipovo outside Moscow
Mercedes-Benz Manufacturing Rus CEO Axel Bense, Germany’s Ambassador to Russia Ruediger von Fritsch, member of the divisional board of Mercedes-Benz Cars Markus Schaefer, Russian Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov, head of production planning of Mercedes-Benz Cars Rainer Ruess and Moscow Regional Governor Andrei Vorobyov attend a new Mercedes-Benz plant’s cornerstone laying ceremony in the town of Esipovo outside Moscow, Russia earlier this week. Reuters / Tatyana Makeyeva

By Jack Stubbs, Reuters

Daimler began construction of a new Mercedes-Benz plant near Moscow this week, following through on the first new investment by a major foreign automaker in Russia since Western sanctions were imposed three years ago.

Daimler said in February that it will invest more than $280 million in the factory, contrasting with widespread wariness among international investors after a prolonged downturn brought on by sanctions and a collapse in global oil prices.

But Russia’s economy has recently shown signs of recovery, while its car market is returning to growth after four years of decline.  Continue reading Daimler lays foundation stone for $280 million Mercedes-Benz plant in Russia

Renesas working on new products for self-driving cars

renesas soc v3m

Renesas, one of the leading suppliers of electronics to the automotive sector, says it is developing a new range of products which it plans to launch towards the end of this year, according to a report in Automotive News

The company plans to market the new range of products under the label of “Renesas Autonomy”, and it will include such things as an image-recognition system which works with automotive cameras, around-view monitors and lidar systems.

The market for automotive electronics has been accelerating at a fast rate and is seeing consolidation in the chipmaking business, with Qualcomm having bought NXP, which previously bought Freescale.  Continue reading Renesas working on new products for self-driving cars

ZMP partners with Tokyo taxi operator to launch self-driving cabs for 2020 Olympics

ZMP’s RoboCar MiniVan, a self-driving Toyota Estima Hybrid car
A TV camerawoman films a laser scanner on ZMP’s RoboCar MiniVan, a self-driving Toyota Estima Hybrid car, after a joint news conference between ZMP and Hinomaru Kotsu in Tokyo, Japan June 15, 2017. Reuters / Toru Hanai

Japanese robotics maker ZMP has partnered with a taxi operator in Tokyo, as part of its plans to launch a self-driving taxi in the city in time for the 2020 Olympics, said CEO Hisashi Taniguchi.

Japan’s taxi industry, faced with a labour crunch due to an ageing population, has been looking at new technologies to drive growth. The sector may also have to deal with more competition in the future if the government allows ride-sharing services such as Uber to operate across the country.

“Autonomous taxis and the taxi industry can grow and prosper together,” Taniguchi told reporters, after announcing ZMP’s partnership with Hinomaru KotsuContinue reading ZMP partners with Tokyo taxi operator to launch self-driving cabs for 2020 Olympics

Robot cars pose ‘unprecedented risks and costs’, warns Consumer Watchdog

robot cars

Robot cars pose unprecedented risks to the American public, Consumer Watchdog warned in a report, Self-Driving Vehicles: The Threat to Consumers.

In a representation to the Senate, Consumer Watchdog says robot cars – also known as driverless, self-driving, autonomous or highly-automated cars – require mandatory safety, security, privacy and ethical standards.

The organisation also warned that getting Madd is not enough.

The Consumer Watchdog report is being issued in conjunction with a day-long program, Driverless Cars: The Legal Landscape, sponsored by George Washington University Law School and a hearing by the Senate Commerce Committee, Paving the Way for Self-Driving Vehicles.  Continue reading Robot cars pose ‘unprecedented risks and costs’, warns Consumer Watchdog