Market for logistics robots predicted to exceed $75 billion in 10 years

Mobile robotics in material handling and logistics will become a $75 billion market by 2027, according to a new report, which adds that it will be more than double by 2038. 

These staggering headline figures mask turbulent transformative change underneath: some technologies will rise and transform the fortunes of industries, fuelling growth rates far outpacing recent trends, whilst others will face with decay and obsolescence.

“We are at the beginning of the beginning of a transformative change, and the time to plan is now,” says the report by IDTechEx Research.  Continue reading Market for logistics robots predicted to exceed $75 billion in 10 years

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

Autonomous vehicle tech developer Nauto raises $159 million in funding

nauto self-driving system

Autonomous vehicle technology company Nauto, which is developing an artificial intelligence and data platform for self-driving technology, has closed a $159 million Series B financing round, led by a SoftBank subsidiary, and Greylock Partners.

Other participants include previous strategic investors BMW iVentures, General Motors Ventures, Toyota AI Ventures and the venture unit of global financial services and insurance provider Allianz Group, and Series A investors Playground Global and Draper Nexus.

The funds will fuel Nauto’s growth and the deployment of its retrofit safety and networking system into more vehicles around the globe, as well as support the expansion of the Nauto data platform in autonomous vehicle research and development across multiple automakers.  Continue reading Autonomous vehicle tech developer Nauto raises $159 million in funding

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

Roborace shows off its driverless electric racing car in the US

roborace new york 2 small

Roborace has been showing off its driverless electric racing car in New York, in the US, after organising similar exhibitions in other countries. 

Roborace organises what is believed to be the world’s first driverless electric car racing series, using vehicles based on Nvidia’s Drive PX2 artificial intelligence platform.

The car incorporates technologies such as lidar, radar, cameras, ultrasonic sensors, optical speed sensors, GNSS positioning, and others, according to Engineering.comContinue reading Roborace shows off its driverless electric racing car in the US

Continental demonstrates ‘Cruising Chauffeur’, its vision of autonomous driving

continental cruising chauffeur 2
Continental’s Cruising Chauffeur autonomous vehicle

Continental has showcased its “Cruising Chauffeur”, an self-driving car platform which provides an insight into the company’s vision of the future of what it calls “highly automated driving” on highways.

Highly automated driving on highways is no longer just a dream, says the company, but now a reality.

Continental started testing systems for automated driving on public roads back in 2012 in Nevada, and was the first automotive supplier to receive the state’s license to test automated vehicles.  Continue reading Continental demonstrates ‘Cruising Chauffeur’, its vision of autonomous driving

Cheap batteries will accelerate sales of electric cars worldwide, says report

electric car illustration
Picture courtesy of Alternative Energy News

The growth in popularity of electric vehicles in China alone, even if it’s a trend not followed anywhere else in the world, is enough to drive the automotive market to make fundamental changes to the way it manufactures cars as well as the raw materials and fuels it uses. 

The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers says sales of new energy vehicles – which includes hydrogen – reached 507,000 units in 2016, representing an increase of 53 per cent compared with 2015.

In the previous year, the increase was similar. The steep upward trend seems to have taken off in 2014, according to analysis by BloombergContinue reading Cheap batteries will accelerate sales of electric cars worldwide, says report

Nvidia partners with Hella and ZF to improve safety of self-driving vehicles

nvidia hella zf self-driving truck

Nvidia has formed a strategic partnership with ZF and Hella to deliver AI technology with the New Car Assessment Program safety certification for the mass deployment of self-driving vehicles. 

ZF, one of the industry’s largest automotive suppliers, and Hella, a leading tier 1 supplier of camera perception software and sensor technologies, will provide customers with a complete self-driving system that integrates front camera units, as well as supporting software functions and radar systems.

Using the Nvidia Drive PX AI platform, the partnership aims to produce the highest NCAP safety ratings for passenger cars, while also addressing commercial vehicle and off-highway applications.  Continue reading Nvidia partners with Hella and ZF to improve safety of self-driving vehicles

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

audi
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

Teamsters union tackles self-driving trucks issue, calls for comprehensive federal rules on autonomous vehicles

teamsters-trucks-2

The Teamsters Union is calling for any federal legislation regarding self-driving technology to take into account public safety and the millions of working Americans employed in transportation and related industries.

At a public hearing on Capitol Hill this week, House lawmakers discussed 14 pieces of draft legislation on self-driving vehicles. The bills could be combined into a final package for introduction in the 115th Congress.

The Teamsters Union has been closely monitoring all aspects of the technology, urging lawmakers to prioritize safety and transparency in rules concerning the testing phase of self-driving vehicles.  Continue reading Teamsters union tackles self-driving trucks issue, calls for comprehensive federal rules on autonomous vehicles

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

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

General Motors produces new fleet of self-driving Chevrolet Bolt EV test vehicles

Chevrolet Bolt EV autonomous test vehicles are assembled at GM
Chevrolet Bolt EV autonomous test vehicles are assembled at General Motors Orion Assembly in Orion Township, Michigan. (Photo by Jeffrey Sauger for General Motors)

Company claims to be the first company to use mass-production methods for autonomous and electric vehicles

General Motors says it has completed production of 130 Chevrolet Bolt EV test vehicles equipped with its next generation of self-driving technology at its Orion Assembly Plant located in Orion Township, Michigan.

The vehicles will join the more than 50 current-generation self-driving Bolt EVs already deployed in testing fleets in San Francisco; Scottsdale, Arizona; and metro Detroit.

GM CEO Mary Barra says: “This production milestone brings us one step closer to making our vision of personal mobility a reality.

“Expansion of our real-world test fleet will help ensure that our self-driving vehicles meet the same strict standards for safety and quality that we build into all of our vehicles.”  Continue reading General Motors produces new fleet of self-driving Chevrolet Bolt EV test 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

Honda aiming for Level 4 automated driving capability by 2025

Honda says it is targeting the year 2025 for the introduction of vehicles with highly-automated driving capability – or autonomy – in most driving situations (SAE Level 4).

Full list of SAE levels of automation, or autonomousness, available here.

This new goal builds upon earlier-announced plans for Honda and Acura vehicles to have highly-automated freeway driving capability (SAE Level 3) by 2020.

Honda says these are “critical steps” in its commitment to contribute to a “collision-free society”.  Continue reading Honda aiming for Level 4 automated driving capability by 2025