Table of Contents
- The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) eliminated a plan to let self-driving car manufacturers avoid liability for crashes
- US DOT is making progress on Federal Automated Vehicle Policy (FAVP) 3.0 in advance of expected summer 2018 release
- The Federal Trade Commission published a privacy-and-security report on the collection and sharing of vehicular data
- Toyota Research Institute unveiled the latest version of its automated test vehicle
- Samsung Electronics has introduced its DRVLINE platform aimed at OEMs and shared mobility providers
- Intel showcased its first automated car
- G.M. filed a Safety Petition with the US DOT seeking permission to begin operating automated vehicles without steering wheels or pedals in a commercial ride-hailing service beginning in 2019
- Robomart debuted a self-driving, highly automated grocery store on wheels
- Voyage will soon begin testing its self-driving vehicle fleet within the retirement community of The Villages, Florida.
- Magna unveiled its ICON RADAR that incorporates technology used by the US military to provide precise detection, extensive range and high resiliency
- Toyota is partnering with a number of companies to form the “e-Palette Alliance,” intended to help guide its transformation as a mobility services company
- RMI released a report concluding that ride-hailed cars contribute fewer miles per person to traffic than personal cars making equivalent trips
- Nissan unveiled research that seeks to enable vehicles to interpret signals from the driver’s brain
- University of Michigan researchers have developed a tool to determine how vulnerable self-driving cars are to hackers
- Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC), the University of Texas Center for Transportation Research and the City of Austin are working together on a new system of tools that allow for the in-depth analysis of traffic patterns
- Researchers from UC Berkeley have developed an easy-to-build camera that produces 3D images from a single 2D image without any lenses
USDOT-Designated Automated Vehicle Proving Grounds
- American Center for Mobility (ACM) opened for business on December 11th and signed a deal for Intertek Group PLC to operate and maintain the automated vehicle testing site
- University of Wisconsin (UW) Madison and Madison traffic engineers are making progress on a V2X testbed
- PPG is partnering with University of Michigan’s Mcity to test coatings for automated vehicles
Smart Infrastructure and Cities
- AT&T said it would launch fifth-generation (5G) mobile network service in a dozen cities in the United States by late 2018
- Siemens, along with Brandmotion and Commsignia, are working with Las Vegas to provide a turnkey Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) and Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) solution
- Dallas, TX selected Ericsson to install a smart cities traffic management system
- Ford announced plans to offer cities networks and technology to smooth the flow of goods and people
- Panasonic is building smart city infrastructure near Denver, Colorado, with the goal of turning the area into a smart city by 2026
- Quanergy and Cisco announced a smart city collaboration to promote Cisco’s Connected Roadway efforts
- Aurora has developed partnerships with Volkswagen Group and Hyundai
- Aurora announced it is using Nvidia’s new Xavier processor upon which to build its automated vehicle platform, and Nvidia disclosed new relationships with Uber, Baidu, Volkswagen, and Mercedes
- HERE Technologies is partnering with LG Electronics to offer a next-generation maps-and-telematics solution for automated vehicles
- The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance announced it is pooling $200 million in a new mobility tech fund
- Cisco and Hyundai are working together to produce a next-generation in-vehicle network and layered security system
- Ford announced and elaborated on partnerships with Postmates, Dominos, Lyft, and Qualcomm
The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) eliminated a plan to let self-driving car manufacturers avoid liability for crashes in cases where the vehicle was not maintained according to manufacturer specifications. The proposal and its subsequent elimination contribute to an important and ongoing discussion of liability concerning the operation of automated vehicles – namely who will be responsible in the event of an accident. The outcome of the discussion and the regulatory norms established for automated vehicle operation could profoundly affect not just automakers, one of which proposed the plan, but other industries such as the insurance industry, as well as passengers. A DMV spokeswoman said the change came after a review of comments on the plan. The department took comments on the latest changes through December 15. California expects final regulations to be enacted early this year.
Federal regulators are taking the first steps to embrace trucks, buses and other ground-based modes in the policy guiding the safety of highly-automated vehicles. The U.S. Department of Transportation has published four requests for public comment on how to reduce roadblocks for transportation advancements in vehicles, trains, buses, commercial trucking and transit systems. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has asked for comment on “unnecessary regulatory barriers” for self-driving vehicles and how their safety should be tested and certified. The Federal Transit Administration is looking for feedback on two fronts related to automated buses and the Federal Highway Administration will seek public input on how driverless transportation modes should be accommodated on U.S. highways. The comments will be used to develop the third iteration of the department’s Federal Automated Vehicle Policy (FAVP), which the Department expects to release this summer. The current version, FAVP 2.0, released in September, relates only to automated automobiles, not buses, trains or other forms of surface transportation. According to the Transportation Department, “FAVP 3.0 will emphasize a unified, intermodal approach to automated driving systems (ADSs) policy. It will enable the safe integration of surface automated transportation systems, including cars, trucks, light rail, infrastructure, and port operations.”
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) published a report offering insight on what data cars may collect on their passengers and how that data may get used, as well as addressing concerns many have raised regarding smart cars’ susceptibility to hacking. The report summarized a June 2017 workshop hosted by FTC and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that discussed possible uses of the information many smart cars collect on people’s location, driving habits and app usage. It discusses how different approaches to regulation and reporting may be needed based on whether the data is safety-critical or related to entertainment or marketing. Educating consumers on the options they have for data collection and usage “is critical to consumer acceptance and adoption of the emerging technologies behind connected cars,” the report stated. To serve this end, experts suggested FTC create a portal where people could compare different companies’ privacy policies. The report suggested automotive industry groups share more information related to cybersecurity to limit the extent that vulnerabilities get exploited and that companies separate safety-critical operations from other functions when designing vehicles’ networks. FTC staff said they will continue monitoring the auto industry to “protect consumers from unfair or deceptive practices” and “foster innovation while protecting the privacy and security of consumer information.”
Toyota Research Institute, the Silicon Valley-based arm of one of the world’s biggest carmakers, unveiled the latest version of its automated test vehicle. The vehicle, a Lexus LS 600hL test vehicle equipped with LiDAR, radar, and camera arrays, is dubbed “Platform 3.0” and is an iterative improvement on the vehicle Toyota showed off last year. The biggest improvement over previous versions of Toyota’s automated research vehicles is the ability to “see” farther in every direction. Thanks to four long-range LiDAR sensors, manufactured by the startup Luminar, attached to its roof, the vehicle now has a 200-meter range around a 360-degree perimeter, which Toyota argues makes it “one of the most perceptive automated driving test cars on the road.” Toyota’s car also has a new and improved look, with a more seamless integration of the cameras and sensor array into the vehicle’s design. Toyota Research Institute said it tapped CALTY Design Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and engineers at Toyota Research and Development Ann Arbor to help improve the car’s appearance.
Samsung Electronics has introduced its DRVLINE platform aimed at OEMs and shared mobility providers in automated driving markets. DRVLINE is claimed to be an open, modular, and scalable hardware and software platform that will allow vendors to collaborate and customize freely, instead of adopting a particular technology. It offers in-car computation for levels 3 to 5 automation and a new Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) forward-facing camera system, designed with its subsidiary Harman. A new ADAS product that uses the platform will feature lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control, collision warning, and pedestrian warning algorithms. It is set to begin shipping this year. Samsung and Harman also unveiled a new Digital Cockpit platform that offers an in-car screen that can display vital vehicle information and features. It also has a premium, multi-display layout with Android OS powering four displays. Samsung bought Harman for $8 billion last year and has since created a joint automotive strategic business unit.
At CES, Intel showcased its first automated car from an initial batch expected to total the 100 that the company aims to produce for testing. The car, a converted Ford Fusion, features twelve cameras, radars, laser scanners and computing technologies from Intel and its subsidiary Mobileye. There are three high-resolution cameras at the front of the vehicle that allow for a 180-degree field of view and let the car's image processor see at a distance of up to 300 meters. Intel announced its plans to produce 100 test vehicles in August 2017, stating that the cars would be Level 4 vehicles and deployed in the U.S., Israel and Europe. At CES, Intel added that about two million vehicles from carmakers BMW, Nissan and Volkswagen would use technology from Mobileye to build high-definition maps throughout 2018. Automated vehicles would then use those maps for navigation. The firm also announced partnerships with Chinese automaker SAIC Motor and digital mapping company NavInfo to develop automated vehicles, and map roads, in China. Currently, the chipmaker is also part of tech giant Baidu's open source automated driving project called Apollo.
General Motors (G.M.) filed a Safety Petition with the United States Department of Transportation and is seeking permission to begin operating automated vehicles without steering wheels or pedals in a commercial ride-hailing service beginning in 2019. G.M.’s petition calls for producing up to 2,500 Cruise AVs for use in commercial ride fleets. Additionally, the company said the vehicle, the Cruise AV, a modified version of the Chevy Bolt, could be put into production on a standard assembly line once approval was granted by the federal government and states where the cars would operate. The cars would most likely be used initially in a ride service created by G.M., rather than in a service run by an established company like Uber or Lyft. If approved, the Cruise AVs would probably appear first in San Francisco or Scottsdale, Ariz., where G.M.’s self-driving subsidiary, Cruise Automation, is conducting tests. In San Francisco, the division has set up a ride-hailing service using about 50 Cruise AVs, although the cars are available only for employees, not public customers. The federal government says it will “carefully” review the petition. Approval is expected to take several months, and then G.M. would need local clearance before it could provide rides in Cruise AVs to the public.
At CES, a startup named Robomart debuted a self-driving, highly automated grocery store on wheels. The robot – about the size of a Sprinter van and equipped with LiDAR, radar, and cameras that help it see and drive without a human operator – will bring fruit, vegetables, and other perishable items from the supermarket aisle to customers' doors. Robomart is premised on a new business model that would see supermarket chains license and lease the platform and robots for two-years, which the company said would be cheaper than opening a new store. Customers would use a smartphone app to hail the closest robot, which would arrive stocked with produce. The app would unlock the doors, and the robot would track and charge what customers take using an array of cameras. The company has not revealed its delivery fee or a price range for the produce. The company has applied for an Autonomous Vehicle Testing Permit from the California Department of Motor Vehicles and plans to launch a pilot program by summer 2018.
Voyage, an automated vehicle startup developing a robo-taxi service, announced that it would soon be testing its self-driving fleet within the retirement community of The Villages, Florida. The Villages is comprised of approximately 125,000 residents, 750 miles of road and three distinct downtowns. The U.S. Census ranked The Villages as the fastest-growing U.S. city for a second year in a row in 2014. The program in The Villages, Florida is Voyage’s second deployment of self-driving cars in the past six months, following its October 2017 launch at The Villages, San Jose. The company states that when fully operational, all 125,000 residents will have the ability to summon a self-driving car to their doorstep using the Voyage mobile app, then travel anywhere within the bounds of the community at Level 4 automation. The company also announced a partnership with CARMERA to assist with the testing program. CARMERA is mapping all 750 miles of road within The Villages, and will provide continuous updates of localization and navigation-critical data that Voyage self-driving cars will consume in real time.
Magna unveiled its ICON RADAR at the Detroit Auto Show that incorporates technology used by the US military to provide precise detection, extensive range and high resiliency. With a range of more than 300 meters, ICON RADAR continuously scans the environment in four dimensions (distance, height, depth and speed). The radar can detect and track almost 100 times more objects than competitive systems and individually classifies them. It is able to detect static objects such as guard rails, road debris and speed bumps, as well as a large number of tracked moving objects such as vehicles, bicyclists, pedestrians and pets. Magna has been collaborating with Uhnder, a technology startup, in engineering and product development to help bring this technology to market in 2019.
Toyota is partnering with a number of companies to form the “e-Palette Alliance,” which is a group intended to help guide Toyota’s transformation as a mobility services company, and determine how it makes use of its new e-Palette vehicle platform. The e-Palette is a modular, driverless vehicle intended to suit a number of purposes at once. According to Toyota, it can be outfitted with purpose-built interiors in accordance with the user’s needs and will be made available in three sizes, allowing not just need-specific applications, but also right-sized and right-place mobile solutions. The alliance at launch includes Uber, Didi, Mazda, Amazon and Pizza Hut, and works on Toyota’s Mobility Services Platform, which it revealed in 2016, offering up shared mobility as well as insurance and fleet leasing, as well as data analysis and gathering for usage and routing. The initial group of companies will be working to help guide the direction of Toyota’s concept vehicle, the e-Palette, and how it develops and supports the mobility services it offers to companies as a result. Toyota discussed this as a way to help build a common platform that all businesses and companies can use as a “plug-and-play” open platform for building out their own mobility services, which they can then offer to consumers. Toyota says that the vehicle will be on roads in various regions, including the United States, in the early 2020s for feasibility testing, and launched at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.
The Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) released a report concluding that ride-hailed cars contribute fewer miles per person to traffic than personal cars making equivalent trips because they carry multiple passengers, even after accounting for the miles that ride-hailed drivers spend waiting for fares and going to pick up passengers. The report used a year's worth of trip data provided by Lyft for San Francisco, New York and Chicago, covering Nov. 1, 2016, to Oct. 31, 2017. In San Francisco, the city where Lyft has operated the longest, Lyft trips were 24 percent more efficient than those in personal cars, according to Klock-McCook. The difference was modest in the two other cities, with Lyft rides calculated as 6 percent more efficient than personal cars in Chicago and 2 percent more efficient in New York. RMI states that using Lyft's data sets this report apart from studies that rely on rider surveys or other indirect ways of getting information. The sustainable transport think tank said its motivation for the study is to give cities reliable ways to assess ride-hailed cars' impact on “congestion, convenience, mobility cost, and carbon emissions.” RMI said future studies would look at how Lyft passengers would travel to their destination in the absence of ride-hailing, as well as the traffic impact of driver loading/unloading practices.
Nissan unveiled research that seeks to enable vehicles to interpret signals from the driver’s brain. The company’s “Brain-to-Vehicle”, or B2V, is a neural interface that is focused on improving reaction times and managing cabin comforts based on signals it takes from the brain. The driver of a B2V vehicle wears a device that measures brain wave activity, which is then analyzed by automated systems. By catching signs that the driver’s brain is about to initiate a movement, such as turning the steering wheel or pushing the accelerator pedal, driver assist technologies can begin the action more quickly. This can improve reaction times and enhance manual driving. Additionally, by detecting and evaluating driver discomfort, artificial intelligence can change the driving configuration or driving style when in fully automated mode. The automaker shared a look at its B2V tech ahead of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), demonstrating an improvement in reaction times.
University of Michigan researchers at the Mcity automated vehicle testing facility have developed a tool to determine how vulnerable self-driving cars are to hackers who might want to take control of a car or lock its systems for ransom. The tool, dubbed the “Mcity Threat Identification Model”, outlines a framework for considering: the attacker's skill level and motivation; the vulnerable vehicle system components; the ways in which an attack could be achieved; and the repercussions, including for privacy, safety and financial loss. To demonstrate the insights the new model can provide, the researchers used it to examine vulnerabilities in automated parking—both parking assist technology and the more advanced remote, self-parking. They determined that the most likely attacks are: a mechanic disabling the range sensors in park-assist or remote parking in order to require additional maintenance, and an expert hacker sending a false signal to your vehicle's receiver to turn off remote parking. At the same time, the type of attack that would have the most impact would be a knowledgeable thief spoofing your remote parking signal in order to steal your car. The tool is believed to be the first of its kind focused on automated vehicles.
Researchers from the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC), the University of Texas Center for Transportation Research and the City of Austin are working together on a new system of tools that allow for the in-depth analysis of traffic patterns. Relying on deep learning algorithms, the tool is designed to capture data from raw footage gathered by traffic cameras throughout the city, recognizing the shapes of cars, trucks, bikes, and pedestrians, and create data based on how those objects move and interact with one another. Once categorized, the machine can work with a searchable database, and analyze these patterns to draw significant conclusions. The researchers built a website where the public can view examples of their detection, tracking and query tool for traffic analysis. They plan to explore how automation can facilitate other safety-related analyses, such as identifying locations where pedestrians cross busy streets outside of designated walkways, understanding how drivers react to different types of pedestrian-yield signage and quantifying how far pedestrians are willing to walk in order to use a walkway. The project is seeking to understand how artificial intelligence technologies can greatly reduce the effort involved in analyzing video data and provide actionable information for decision-makers.
Researchers from UC Berkeley have developed an easy-to-build camera that produces 3D images from a single 2D image without any lenses. The camera, dubbed “DiffuserCam”, is compact and inexpensive to construct because it consists of only a diffuser – essentially a bumpy piece of plastic – placed on top of an image sensor. Although the hardware is simple, the software it uses to reconstruct high-resolution 3D images is complex. The researchers showed that the DiffuserCam can be used to reconstruct 100 million voxels, or 3D pixels, from a 1.3-megapixel (1.3 million pixels) image without any scanning. In an initial application of the technology, they plan to use it to watch microscopic neuron activity in living mice without a microscope. Ultimately, the DiffuserCam could prove useful for a wide range of applications involving 3D capture and could advance applications to self-driving cars.
USDOT-Designated Automated Vehicle Proving Grounds
The American Center for Mobility (ACM) signed a deal for Intertek Group PLC to operate and maintain the automated vehicle testing site in Ypsilanti Township, Michigan. Intertek will run the site's operations, vehicle testing for clients and staffing, the company said. It will also be responsible for equipment policies and procedures, and safety planning. The contract starts with an eight-year term, but the company states that the “spirit of the relationship” is to continue for the duration of ACM's operations. London-based Intertek provides testing, inspection and certification services for automotive clients and those in other industries. It has offices in Detroit, Plymouth Township and Troy, as well as across Michigan. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed. In related news, the ACM opened for business on December 11th. Visteon hit the track on that day, testing its automated highway driving system technology dubbed “DriveCore” in the middle of a Michigan snowstorm. The automotive supplier will also use the center to develop technology that will allow cars to communicate with other cars and with roadway infrastructure. Toyota engineers began orientation at the site Wednesday.
A team of researchers at the University of Wisconsin (UW) Madison and Madison traffic engineers are making progress on a V2X testbed on Park Street, the north end of an eventual 6.2-mile corridor linking the UW–Madison campus with Madison’s Beltline Highway. The corridor is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation-designated Wisconsin Automated Vehicle (WiscAV) Proving Grounds. The backbone of Madison’s corridor, already installed by city engineers in anticipation of future needs, is a high-speed, fiber-optic network connecting traffic signals and advanced traffic controllers. Now, the researchers are installing radio units on five traffic signals along the busy street and in at least four city-owned vehicles that frequently travel the area. Once the radio units, which were donated by private companies, are installed, city staff and UW–Madison engineers and computer scientists will test the technology and develop tools initially focused on safety. In parallel, UW–Madison engineers will simulate the corridor in a virtual reality environment. Jon Riehl, a researcher in the UW–Madison College of Engineering’s Traffic Operations and Safety (TOPS) Laboratory, which is leading the WiscAV effort, states that “Connected vehicles and autonomous vehicles are separate right now, but half of the nation’s 10 proving grounds are currently pursuing connected vehicle projects because all autonomous vehicles will eventually be connected, as well.”
PPG is partnering with University of Michigan’s Mcity to test coatings for automated vehicles. The agreement provides PPG with access to resources such as Mcity lab and project data; research and deployment assets; an independent forum of suppliers, manufacturers and end users; university expertise related to legal, regulatory and social issues; and Mcity research review meetings and the annual Mcity Congress. PPG is developing a broad portfolio of coatings to improve functionality and enable broad deployment of automated vehicles. These developments include exterior coatings that enhance vehicle visibility to radar and LiDAR systems, as well as easy-to-clean coatings that help prevent obstruction of automated vehicle sensors, any of which it may choose to test at Mcity. PPG is the first paints and coatings manufacturer to join the Mcity partnership.
Smart Infrastructure and Cities
AT&T, the No. 2 U.S. wireless carrier, said it would launch fifth-generation (5G) mobile network service in a dozen cities in the United States by late 2018. The 5G technology is expected to provide higher speed and response times than 4G networks used today, and some predict it will help facilitate vehicle-to-everything (V2X) connectivity. AT&T joins Verizon as the two major telecommunication companies in the US that will roll out 5G networks in 2018. AT&T’s announcement comes shortly after the first 5G radio standards were finalized last month by international cellular standards body 3GPP, enabling hardware, chip, and device designers to start bringing “standards-conscious” products to market. While these limited rollouts are planned for this year, it may be a number of years before the U.S. sees widespread deployments. Intel forecasts 2020 as the time when major network operators and infrastructure partners will fully deploy 5G capability, and Qualcomm expects to have products in the first half of 2019.
Siemens, along with Brandmotion and Commsignia, are working with the City of Las Vegas to provide a turnkey Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) and Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) solution along Casino Center Boulevard between Bonneville and Clark Avenues. This initial connected vehicle pilot will focus on two key initial priorities: pedestrian safety and corridor notifications. For the former, a crosswalk will be equipped with a roadside unit to warn oncoming drivers when a pedestrian is present by communicating with their vehicles’ On Board Units (OBUs), or by communicating with pedestrians. For the latter, vehicles equipped with the connected vehicle technology will receive information and warnings from connected street infrastructure such as when vehicles transgress by traveling in the wrong direction, in an exclusive bus-only travel lane or at certain times of the day, when lane usage has been restricted. Casino Center Boulevard is a common entry point for wrong-way drivers onto the Bonneville and Clark one-way streets and also unauthorized entry onto an exclusive transit lane. As of December 21, 2017, the Las Vegas valley has experienced 74 pedestrian fatalities, increased from 55 in 2016.
The city of Dallas, TX selected Ericsson to install a smart cities traffic management system that will allow for better sharing of data and video across city agencies, and eventually, across municipalities. It will also give the city the ability to analyze data in real-time and use the information to control traffic lights, school flashers and message signs. The system will have a central dashboard and allow those with access to log in remotely. For Dallas, it is the latest in an ongoing effort to make the city smarter, in line with initiatives in major cities across the country. The Dallas Innovation Alliance, a public-private partnership in charge of setting a smart cities plan for Dallas, is overseeing phase one of the city’s multi-pronged plan. The first phase, launched in March 2017 with AT&T as a partner, focuses on using Dallas’ West End as a case study. The West End “Living Lab” includes two blocks of smart streetlights, a digital kiosk and environmental sensors that measure air quality and allergens.
At CES, Ford announced plans to offer cities new networks and technology to smooth the flow of goods and people to help ensure that ride hailing and automated delivery services do not make congestion worse. Specifically, Ford wants to build a “transportation mobility cloud” and technology that would allow cities, fleet operators and others to use a shared platform to manage vehicles and connect people to different types of transportation. The platform is designed to help connect smart transportation services, as well as adjacent connected offerings, uniting them with one common language to help coordinate all this effort in real-time. That means tying together personal cars with vehicle-to-everything communications built in, incorporating bike sharing networks, and public and private transportation services, including buses, trains, ride hailing and beyond. The Transportation Mobility Cloud will support location-based services, determining routes, sending out alerts about service disruptions, handling identity management and payment processing, as well as dealing with data gathering and analytics. Ford will be working with Silicon Valley-based Autonomic to build software for the new platform. Ford invested in Autonomic in 2017.
Panasonic is building smart city infrastructure near Denver, Colorado, part of a larger Panasonic program called CityNow, with the goal of turning the area into a smart city by 2026. The company has installed free WiFi, LED street lights, pollution sensors, a solar-powered microgrid, and security cameras on a 400-acre swath of land near the Denver Airport. With the help of the new microgrid (which partially relies on solar power), the district can be powered for 72 hours in the event of an outage. Part of CityNow involves a partnership with the US Department of Transportation on a $72 million automated vehicle project that will see a high-tech system deployed on a 15-mile stretch of a highway in coming years to communicate with automated vehicles. For instance, it would provide navigation recommendations (based on real-time traffic patterns) and create "virtual guardrails" that would alert drivers when they veer out of their lanes. This is Panasonic's first rollout of CityNow in the US. The company plans to share all the data it collects with the city via an open API. If successful in the Denver area, the company may launch CityNow in other American cities.
Quanergy and Cisco announced a smart city collaboration to promote Cisco’s Connected Roadway efforts. Cisco’s Connected Roadway systems, powered by the company’s Kinetic IoT data management platform, links people, processes, data and connected devices to create an intelligent network infrastructure to help cities use data analytics to gain new insights and make more informed decisions. Quanergy’s LiDAR units use lasers to sense the size and location of objects to create a detailed 3D map of the physical world, refreshed many times per second. The system not only detects and classifies objects, but also analyzes such data with Qortex, Quanergy’s recently introduced perception software, to help make informed decisions in real time. The new collaboration will see Quanergy’s solid-state LiDAR sensors and Qortex perception software integrated with Cisco's networking capabilities to create IoT solutions for smart transportation. The goal is to help cities improve driver and pedestrian safety as well as traffic flow.
A large number of (often multi-party) partnerships were announced at CES this year. Aurora has partnerships with Volkswagen Group and Hyundai, aimed at helping both automakers accelerate their automated vehicle programs. While the specifics of these non-exclusive partnerships are sparse, the partnership with the VW Group calls for integrating self-driving tech into everything from “fully self-driving pods, shuttles or delivery vans to self-driving trucks without a cabin.” Aurora and Volkswagen said they had been working together over the past six months to integrate Aurora’s sensors, hardware and software into the German carmakers’ electric vehicles to develop self-driving ride services in cities. For Hyundai, Aurora’s technology will be incorporated into custom-developed models and tested in markets including China. Hyundai said the first model to be used in testing will be its latest generation fuel-cell vehicle. This is the first announcement on a self-driving technology partnership by the South Korean carmaker, which has traditionally shunned tie-ups in favor of developing technology in-house.
Also newsworthy is Aurora’s announcement that it will be using Nvidia’s new Xavier processor as one of the building blocks of its self-driving vehicle system. The Xavier processor is a complete system-on-a-chip processor that is essentially an AI brain for self-driving cars, and built upon a brand-new architecture that Nvidia calls Volta. Sterling Anderson, a former director of Tesla’s Autopilot program, founded Aurora in 2016 along with Chris Urmson, the former head of Google’s self-driving project, and Drew Bagnell, who led Uber’s automation and perception team at its Advanced Technologies Center. At the same event, Nvidia also disclosed new relationships with Uber, Baidu, Volkswagen, and Mercedes, where it will power all AI and graphics features for its new AI cockpit. Uber’s partnership with Nvidia will actually be a threesome, for in addition to supplying the artificial intelligence hardware and software to replace Uber drivers, Uber also confirmed that the Nvidia chips will continue going into its growing fleet of Volvo XC90 SUV taxis.
HERE Technologies is partnering with LG Electronics to offer a next-generation telematics solution for automated vehicles. The solution combines LG's telematics technology with high-precision map data and location services powered by the HERE Open Location Platform. Through their planned collaboration, the companies aim to support automakers globally with a robust and secure data communications hub for highly automated cars. HERE’s partnership with LG comes on the heels of its 2015 acquisition by a consortium of German automakers, its 2016 partnership with Mobileye on crowdsourced HD mapping, and its recent acquisition of German “over-the-air” software firm Advanced Telematic Systems (ATS). It also comes just days in advance of selling a five percent stake in the company to Continental and Bosch, the world’s largest automotive suppliers. These deals aim to position HERE to thrive as vehicles become more automated and thus reliant on maps, telematics and other technologies.
At CES, the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance announced it is pooling $200 million in a new mobility tech fund. The fund is being set up as a Dutch-registered joint venture headed by Francois Dossa, a former banker who led Brazil operations for Societe Generale and then for Nissan, and will be 40 percent financed by Renault, 40 percent by Nissan and 20 percent by Mitsubishi. The move is the latest by a major carmaker to adapt to rapid industry change by investing in startups through their own corporate venture capital (CVC) fund. BMW has purchased stakes in a variety of ride-sharing, smart-charging and automated vehicle software firms through its 500 million euro ($600 million) iVentures fund, the biggest such in-house facility belonging to a carmaker. Other large funds include GM Ventures, with $240 million, and PSA Group’s 100 million-euro investment arm. To date, Nissan has preferred partnering with established players rather than investing in startups, while Renault has made several investments including in Marcel, a Paris car-sharing platform, and Jedlix, a Dutch specialist in smart vehicle-charging technology. Most or all of the Renault investments will be transferred to the new alliance’s venture portfolio.
Cisco and Hyundai are working together to produce a next-generation in-vehicle network and layered security system that will be unveiled in Hyundai’s premium 2019 vehicles. The new platform uses a software-defined vehicle architecture that weaves new software with legacy hardware for full end-to-end networking, which will allow for true sensor integration and high-speed services and “over-the-air updates”. In 2016, the two companies announced their partnership to develop a “hyperconnected car” with unique communication abilities. At the time, the companies pledged to create a “flexible and more secure platform that would offer a path to innovate and build on smart-vehicle solutions.” Beyond the open and highly secure platform, the companies are exploring new areas such as integration into Hyundai datacenters for real-time information and connecting cars to city infrastructure to communicate with lights and parking meters.
In addition to the previously mentioned Autonomic partnership focused on developing a “Transportation Mobility Cloud” for smart cities, Ford announced a number of other partnerships at CES this year. First, the company announced a partnership with Postmates to conduct pilot programs to learn how self-driving vehicle technology can change the delivery experience and help retailers reach new customers. Postmates offers on-demand delivery of “anything from anywhere” right to consumers’ doorsteps. This includes restaurant carryout, coffee shop orders, hardware store items, and grocery goods. In the pilot program, a self-driving vehicle might deliver the goods when consumers use Postmates to place an order. Ford plans to study both what the merchant experience needs to be at the point of delivery and what the customer experience needs to be at that same point. Ford also announced a new partnership platform that would let companies like Domino’s Pizza, Lyft, and Postmates connect to the automaker’s future fleet of self-driving vehicles. A partnership with Qualcomm for Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything, or C-V2X, will see the company install the technology in all of its cars by 2019.