China’s electric car market given a jump-start by government and looks set to boost lithium industry

open pit lithium mine
An open pit lithium mine. Picture courtesy of The Future of Energy

The market for electric cars in China is huge already and it’s growing at almost an exponential rate annually. 

Commentators in the country include electric cars in the category called “new energy vehicles”, which also refers to hybrid energy vehicles, and are saying the market will be further accelerated as a result of government backing.

Edward Tse, CEO of Gao Feng management consultancy, says: “With the issuance in April 2017 of the Automotive Industry Mid to Long Term Development Plan, the Ministry for Industry and Information Technology provides guiding principles for the development of China’s auto industry for the next decade.  Continue reading China’s electric car market given a jump-start by government and looks set to boost lithium industry

Toyota showcases its new advanced autonomous car platform to Boston robotics community

Boston has become one of the main centres for robotics technologies in recent years, with many well-known companies emerging from the area. 

Perhaps with this in mind, the Toyota Research Institute decided to showcase its latest developments in autonomous vehicle technology, something it’s calling “Platform 2.0” – basically, its new driverless car – to attendees at the Robotics: Science and Systems conference at MIT.

“This is the first time that we are showing the car off to the Boston-area robotics community,” said a spokesman for TRI. “This new advanced safety research vehicle is the first autonomous testing platform developed entirely by TRI, and reflects the rapid progress of our autonomous driving program.”  Continue reading Toyota showcases its new advanced autonomous car platform to Boston robotics community

Toyota demonstrates ‘human service robot’ of a type that may take over a lot of homes

Toyota has been demonstrating what it calls its “Human Support Robot”, a type of robot which looks likely to take over millions of homes all over the world in the next few years.

The market for this type of so-called personal assistance robot is forecast to grow very quickly over the next few years because of advances in the technology.

According to analysts at ResearchAndMarkets.com, the personal robotics market will grow by almost 40 per cent within the next five years to a total size of $34 billion.  Continue reading Toyota demonstrates ‘human service robot’ of a type that may take over a lot of homes

NTT to develop global platform for Toyota connected vehicles

ntt mclaren

NTT is working with Toyota to develop a global telecommunications platform for connected cars. 

Toyota is one of the largest automakers in the world, while NTT is one of the largest telecommunications companies in the world.

The new partnership will see both companies sharing relevant technologies, knowledge and expertise to create a connected car platform.  Continue reading NTT to develop global platform for Toyota connected vehicles

US government set to change driverless vehicle regulations under pressure from automakers

Audi-Autonomous-Vehicle

US President Donald Trump is set to announce “within the next few months” new regulations that will eliminate the barriers to autonomous cars on the roads, according to a report on Reuters

The current transportation secretary, Elaine Chao, acknowledged that automakers have been calling for rule changes which will give them more freedom to test and develop autonomous cars.

Chao says: “The pressure is mounting for the federal government to do something. We don’t want rules that impede future technological advances.”  Continue reading US government set to change driverless vehicle regulations under pressure from automakers

Toyota demonstrates robot to make elderly people walk faster

A model demonstrates Toyota’s rehabilitation robot Welwalk WW-1000. Reuters / Toru Hanai
A model demonstrates Toyota’s rehabilitation robot Welwalk WW-1000. Reuters / Toru Hanai

By Naomi Tajitsu, Reuters

Japanese automakers are looking beyond the industry trend to develop self-driving cars and turning their attention to robots to help keep the country’s rapidly graying society on the move.

Toyota said it saw the possibility of becoming a mass producer of robots to help the elderly in a country whose population is ageing faster than the rest of the world as the birthrate decreases.

The country’s changing demographics place its automakers in a unique situation. Along with the issues usually associated with falling populations such as labor shortages and pension squeezes, Japan also faces dwindling domestic demand for cars.

Toyota, the world’s second largest automaker, made its first foray into commercializing rehabilitation robots on Wednesday, launching a rental service for its walk assist system, which helps patients to learn how to walk again after suffering strokes and other conditions.  Continue reading Toyota demonstrates robot to make elderly people walk faster

Worldwide sales of Toyota hybrids surpass 10 million units

toyota china motor show

In the footsteps of the iconic Prius that started it all, Toyota now sells 34 different hybrid models in more than 90 countries and regions across the globe

Toyota says it has reached cumulative global hybrid vehicle sales of 10.05 million units as of January 31, surpassing the 10 million unit mark.

More than a numerical milestone, Toyota says this demonstrates the staying power of a technology that is now emerging as a mainstream solution to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants.

Helping to mitigate the environmental effects of automobiles has long been a priority for Toyota, claims the company in a statement.  Continue reading Worldwide sales of Toyota hybrids surpass 10 million units

ZF unveils AI driving system which could be used for forklift trucks, while Toyota adopts the fuel cell

toyota fuel cell forklift truck

ZF teams up with Nvidia on artificial intelligence system for autonomous cars, trucks and industrial applications

ZF says its ProAI system for automated driving is built on high-performance Nvidia Drive PX 2 AI computing platform, and will enable vehicles to “see, think, and act”. 

ZF is one of the world’s largest automotive suppliers and a global leader in active and passive safety technology, and has been working with Nvidia to develop artificial intelligence systems for the transportation industry for some time.

The two companies are looking at various sectors, including:

  • automated and autonomous driving systems for passenger cars;
  • commercial trucks; and
  • industrial applications.

The ZF ProAI for highway automated driving is ZF’s first system developed using Nvidia AI technology.  Continue reading ZF unveils AI driving system which could be used for forklift trucks, while Toyota adopts the fuel cell

Toyota shows off futuristic Concept-i vehicle featuring AI that learns from driver

toyota concept-i
The Toyota Concept-i features AI which anticipates the driver’s needs, says the company

Toyota has demonstrated a concept vehicle which features artificial intelligence that “grows with the driver”. 

The appropriately named Concept-i is said to offer an “immersive” AI system which anticipates drivers’ requirements and “inspires their imaginations and improves their lives”.

The AI system is nicknamed “Yui” and is likely to feature in Toyota’s other cars going forward.  Continue reading Toyota shows off futuristic Concept-i vehicle featuring AI that learns from driver

Manufacturing: Trump tempts Toyota with tax break if it builds cars in US instead of Mexico

toyota mexico
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto with Toyota North America CEO James Lentz last year during the start of building the facility in Guanajuato

lockAfter apparently pressuring Ford to change its plans to expand its manufacturing operations in Mexico, President-elect Donald Trump is reportedly putting pressure on Toyota to follow suit. 

Ford had intended to build a plant in Mexico, but is now applying the brakes on those plans, according to the Economist.

A couple of days ago, Ford said it would cancel its $1.6 billion project in San Luis Potosí, Mexico and instead invest $700 million in its plant in Michigan, in the US.  Continue reading Manufacturing: Trump tempts Toyota with tax break if it builds cars in US instead of Mexico

Toyota launches connected car platform and partners with Getaround to compete with Uber

Toyota follows up its Microsoft deal with partnership with Getaround in bid to challenge Uber

Toyota says it will launch a Mobility Services Platform (MSPF) to collaborate with various service providers, as well as telematics insurance.

Based on the proliferation and popularity of mobility services, like car-sharing, the MSPF will have various functions to support mobility services, and leverage the Toyota Smart Center (TSC), the Toyota Big Data Center, and financial services.

Shigeki Tomoyama, president of Toyota Connected, says: “As a mobility service platform provider, by collaborating with various companies and services, we would like to help create a new mobility society in order to offer safer and more convenient mobility to our customers.”  Continue reading Toyota launches connected car platform and partners with Getaround to compete with Uber

The Toyota Corolla at 50: The best-selling car of all time

The Toyota Corolla is by far the best-selling model of car ever made, with close to 50 million units sold since its launch in 1966. 

The company commemorated the 50th anniversary last month of “the car for everyone” by producing a video and other content looking back on its success in putting Toyota on the global automaking map.

One notable story told of how one owner has been driving his first-generation Corolla since he bought it in 1969 at the age of 24.  Continue reading The Toyota Corolla at 50: The best-selling car of all time

Electric car industry sparks into life

2017-chevrolet-volt-electric-car

Two of the world’s biggest automakers have made moves which would suggest electric cars will become mass-market vehicles much sooner than perhaps some may have expected. 

General Motors has decided to bring forward its production of the all-electric Chevy Volt, according to a report in Manufacturers’ Monthly, which quotes a report on Associated Press.

The vehicles will go on sale towards the end of this year for around $30,000.  Continue reading Electric car industry sparks into life

Suzuki and Toyota to collaborate on advanced driver systems and autonomous vehicle technologies

Environment, safety, and information technology fields to also feature prominently in the new business partnership

Suzuki and Toyota have agreed to collaborate on advanced driver systems and autonomous vehicle technologies, although the details were not discussed. 

The companies say they have started exploring ideas that are directed towards a business partnership.

In a statement, Toyota and Suzuki say they recognise the environment surrounding the automotive industry has been changing “drastically and rapidly in an unprecedented fashion”.  Continue reading Suzuki and Toyota to collaborate on advanced driver systems and autonomous vehicle technologies

Toyota enrols at University of Michigan for artificial intelligence

university of michigan

Research focused on artificial intelligence, robotics and autonomous driving at the University of Michigan (U-M) will get a major boost thanks to an initial $22 million commitment from the Toyota Research Institute (TRI) . 

The deal was announced by TRI-CEO Gill Pratt in an address to the U-M faculty, who said: “Toyota has long enjoyed an excellent working relationship with the University of Michigan, and we are excited to expand our collective efforts to address complex mobility challenges through artificial intelligence.

“We look forward to collaborating with U-M’s research faculty and students to develop new intelligent technologies that will help drivers travel more safely, securely and efficiently. We will also focus on expanding the benefit of mobility technology to in-home support of older persons and those with special needs.”   Continue reading Toyota enrols at University of Michigan for artificial intelligence