• Creating Something New

    Creating Something New

    The world of electronics has been in contact flux for the past fifty years, with new developments in every arena. In automobiles, the situation is much the same with new technology affecting how we drive and how we interact with vehicles. Leading this charge of modernity is First International Computer, Inc. (FIC). Based in Taiwan, but with a global footprint, we look more closely at the company in the light of its award-winning success. Founded by Dr. Ming J. Chien, FIC has come a long way since selling its first PRIME computers in 1980. And in year 2004, Mr. Leo Chien, son of Dr. Ming, joined the group and contributed his master expertise as COO of FIC in 2008. Mr. Leo began to lead the group towards a new business development in 2010, with unique insights to the market trend and gradually moved the team towards a new direction of automotive electronic design manufacturing and smart building IoT system integration business. Throughout the years, he integrated the group's relevant technical capabilities and resources in order to support the new business comprehensively, and became CEO of FIC in 2016. He owns high sensitivity to the market demand and has been certain that in the future,  smart automotive including autonomous technology, smart building automations and smart traffics business will increase tremendously, hence leading the group toward the direction by providing supreme technologies to enrich people’s lives and driving experiences. With 40 years of design engineering and manufacturing experience, FIC possesses proven records as unique advantages over many of its competitors. As a true leader in the field, FIC provides automotive EDMS (Electronic Design Manufacturing Service), supply chain management and system integration solution for global Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers, with roughly 60% in US & European Market and 40% in Asia Market. With a broad reach, the team is able to provide clients with end-to-end automotive electronic design manufacturing solutions, from Concept and Design Development, Supply Chain Management, JDM (Joint Design Manufacturing), POC, EVT/DVT/PVT, PCB Assembly, Box-Build, System Assembly and System Integration, turnkey solutions all the way to logistic and RMA service. In order to create the best possible result, efficient communication and collaboration with customers is the key. A substantial number of FIC’s projects are jointed efforts with customers. This approach not only saves significant costs at the preliminary design stage but also creates the opportunity to quickly learn from each other’s expertise. Long-term partnership has proven vital to the success of FIC by building up close teamwork, respecting each other’s domain known-how, hence a consistent performance can be delivered.  Thanks to the vice president of the design team, Mr. Alex Dee, he has been leading the team to successfully develop various projects over the years. FIC has already achieved its great success in the field of desi...
  • Connected car market forecast sees over 14% CAGR to 2027

    Connected car market forecast sees over 14% CAGR to 2027

    A new report from market research firm Verified Market Research finds that the global connected car market, which was valued at $72.68 billion in 2019, is projected to reach $215.23 billion by 2027 - growing at a CAGR of 14.56% from 2020 to 2027. According to the report, the increase in advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) features in cars is driving the connected car market as it ensures enhanced levels of safety. Other key factors contributing toward the growth of the connected car market are the rising demand for connectivity solutions, an increase in dependency on technology, and an upsurge in the tech-savvy population. In addition, technological advancements, an increase in the production of vehicles, and an increase in demand for luxury and comfort in vehicles are expected to support the growth of the market. Also, the report finds, automakers are nowadays following new vehicle safety norms to both encourage the safety of the vehicle and to make them more secure from hacking and malfunctioning, which, in turn, is also likely to foster the demand for connected car systems. The following trends, says the report, are reinforcing the shift towards a fully developed connected car industry: New technological innovation in the field of the network is accelerating at a fast rate. High-speed computers help make the car aware of surroundings, which can transform maneuvering a self-driving vehicle into an increasing reality. The Internet of Things (IoT) provides mobile services in the car with high-speed internet, enabling real-time traffic control, interaction with the car manufacturer service for remote diagnostics, and enhanced company logistics automation. The increase in demand for lightweight suspension systems and the development of technically advanced suspension systems are expected to provide a favorable opportunity for the growth of the market. The report segments the connected car market based on services, form, network, and geography. Major players in this market include Bosch, Continental AG, Delphi Technologies PLC, DENSO Corporation, Harman International Industries, Infineon Technologies AG, NXP Semiconductors N.V., Toyota Motor Corporation, Valeo, and ZF Friedrichshafen AG. ——
  • Japan's Big Four To Start Testing Their Swappable Batteries Soon

    Japan's Big Four To Start Testing Their Swappable Batteries Soon

    In April, 2019, we told you that Japan’s Big Four motorcycle manufacturers—Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki, and Suzuki—were forming a consortium to work on swappable battery tech for electric two-wheelers. So far, so quiet—but as of September, 2020, we’re seeing some encouraging forward movement from the team. The four companies are running a large-scale demonstration test in collaboration with Osaka Prefecture and Osaka University, and it’s starting sometime in September, 2020. They’re calling it “e-Yan Osaka,” and will be providing electric two-wheelers to students and staff at the University to ride and use in the course of their daily activities. They’ll also be setting up charging stations and monitoring how well things work together, as well as any pain points that need to be addressed. While avid followers of electric two-wheelers and/or Honda are probably already aware of the Benly:E (Shoulda called it the Benl-E. Bad move, Honda. - JM) and/or the PCX Electric scooters that Big Red already developed, it’s unclear whether this will have any bearing on the Consortium’s work as a unit, according to Young Machine. The group is looking to analyze convenience, usefulness, and how a shared common specification can work in the real world. The question of what two-wheelers will be involved is an interesting one, though. Honda, Yamaha, and Suzuki all appear to have brought electric scooters to the party—but can we take this image to mean that Kawasaki is finally moving ahead with the Concept J? After hinting about it possibly not being consigned to the dustbin of forgotten concepts with a promotional video in 2018, we hadn’t heard or seen anything else about it until now. Now, it could just be a placeholder image, and we admit that’s a possibility. Still, it’s kind of a hilarious comparison, and you can see that Kawasaki’s representative looks pretty pleased with himself. I mean, wouldn’t you be? If that is a real thing that Kawasaki has somewhere in the pipeline, it will definitely stand out from every other electric vehicle on the market—and they’ll all go (team) green with envy, even as they grudgingly stop to swap batteries. ——
  • VW believes it can catch up to Tesla with 1.5 million EV capacity by 2023 ‘or sooner’

    VW believes it can catch up to Tesla with 1.5 million EV capacity by 2023 ‘or sooner’

    VW believes that it can catch up to Tesla where it matters when it comes to electric vehicles: mass production capacity. The head of VW’s worker union believes that they can achieve a production capacity of 1.5 million electric vehicles by 2023 ‘or sooner’. With Fremont factory and Gigafactory Shanghai, Tesla has two of the highest producing electric vehicle factories in the world. Other automakers are playing catch up, but Volkswagen, who has been less shy about converting existing factories to electric car production, believes it can catch up. Bernd Osterloh, the head of Volkswagen Work Council, told Germany’s Welt that he believes that catch up to Tesla’s planned production capacity by 2023 (translated from German): “If Tesla builds three factories in which you can build between 300,000 and 500,000 cars, then we’re talking about a number between 900,000 and 1.5 million. We want to achieve that in 2023, probably sooner.” Tesla had a production capacity of 690,000 cars at the end of the last quarter according to its own filing: But the automaker plans to have a production capacity of 500,000 Model 3 and Model Y vehicles in Fremont by the end of the year. The production capacity of the rest of the factories in development is less clear, but Tesla is expected to double the production capacity in Shanghai with the introduction of the Model Y next year. Furthermore, Gigafactory Berlin and Gigafactory Texas are expected to each have total outputs of more than 500,000 cars per year. It would put Tesla’s total output closer to 2 million vehicles once all projects are completed. Both factories in Germany and Texas are expected to start production next year, but it will take a few more years to ramp up to full production. As for Volkswagen, the automaker has converted its entire Zwickau factory to electric vehicle production and it also started to convert its Emden factory to begin electric car production in 2022. VW is also producing electric vehicles out of a factory in China and it is building a new factory next to its Chattanooga factory in Tennessee to produce electric vehicles. Osterloh mentioned that the work council won’t be afraid to push for the conversion of their massive facilities in Wolfsburg if they see a need for it: “There is of course the possibility of converting the Wolfsburg site to electric cars. If the number of combustion engines drops sharply, then we as the works council will demand that we also manufacture a battery-powered vehicle here.” VW’s Wolfsburg factory has a capacity of over 700,000 vehicles per year and a conversion to electric vehicle production would be a major step for the company. However, the automaker will also have to secure battery cell supply, which it is trying to do through partnerships with several major cell suppliers and its own effort with Northvolt. ——
  • Dream of flying car could get real as Japan successfully conducts test flight

    Dream of flying car could get real as Japan successfully conducts test flight

    Japan's SkyDrive Inc., among the myriads of ''flying car'' projects around the world, has carried out a successful though modest test flight with one person aboard. The decades-old dream of zipping around in the sky as simply as driving on highways may be becoming less illusory. Japan's SkyDrive Inc., among the myriads of ''flying car'' projects around the world, has carried out a successful though modest test flight with one person aboard. In a video shown to reporters on Friday, a contraption that looked like a slick motorcycle with propellers lifted several feet (1-2 meters) off the ground, and hovered in a netted area for four minutes. Tomohiro Fukuzawa, who heads the SkyDrive effort, said he hopes ''the flying car'' can be made into a real-life product by 2023, but he acknowledged that making it safe was critical. ''Of the world's more than 100 flying car projects, only a handful has succeeded with a person on board,'' he told The Associated Press. ''I hope many people will want to ride it and feel safe.'' The machine so far can fly for just five to 10 minutes but if that can become 30 minutes, it will have more potential, including exports to places like China, Fukuzawa said. Unlike airplanes and helicopters, eVTOL, or ''electric vertical takeoff and landing,'' vehicles offer quick point-to-point personal travel, at least in principle. They could do away with the hassle of airports and traffic jams and the cost of hiring pilots, they could fly automatically. Battery sizes, air traffic control and other infrastructure issues are among the many potential challenges to commercializing them. ''Many things have to happen,'' said Sanjiv Singh, professor at the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, who co-founded Near Earth Autonomy, near Pittsburgh, which is also working on an eVTOL aircraft. ''If they cost $10 million, no one is going to buy them. If they fly for 5 minutes, no one is going to buy them. If they fall out of the sky every so often, no one is going to buy them,'' Singh said in a telephone interview. The SkyDrive project began humbly as a volunteer project called Cartivator in 2012, with funding by top Japanese companies including automaker Toyota Motor Corp., electronics company Panasonic Corp. and video-game developer Bandai Namco. A demonstration flight three years ago went poorly. But it has improved and the project recently received another round of funding, of 3.9 billion yen ($37 million), including from the Development Bank of Japan. The Japanese government is bullish on ''the Jetsons'' vision, with a ''road map'' for business services by 2023, and expanded commercial use by the 2030s, stressing its potential for connecting remote areas and providing lifelines in disasters. Experts compare the buzz over flying cars to the days when the aviation industry got started with the Wright Brothers and the auto industry with the Ford Model T. Lilium of Germany, Joby Aviation in California and Wisk, a joint venture between ...
  • The future of cars is electric – but how soon is this future?

    The future of cars is electric – but how soon is this future?

    BloombergNEF (BNEF) has painted a picture of how the auto industry will evolve in its latest Long-term Electric Vehicle Outlook report. In the report, BNEF outlines that electric vehicles (EVs) will hit 10% of global passenger vehicle sales in 2025, with that number rising to 28% in 2030 and 58% in 2040. According to the study, EVs currently make up 3% of global car sales. Beyond just new sales, EVs are predicted to represent 31% of all cars on the road in 2040, making up 67% of municipal buses, 47% of two-wheeled vehicles (scooters, mopeds, motorcycles and so on) and 24% of light commercial vehicles. Compare this to 2020, where EVs make up 33% of municipal buses, 30% of two-wheeled vehicles and 2% of light commercial vehicles. In terms of gross vehicles usage, BNEF predicts that 500 million passenger EVs will be on the road globally by 2040, compared to a total passenger vehicle fleet of 1.6 billion. Unfortunately, there will still be more miles driven globally by internal combustion passenger vehicles than EVs. Sales and price parity The ramp in EV adoption will be initially led by reaching price parity with internal combustion engine vehicles. This will begin when large vehicles hit this point in Europe, which is expected to happen in 2022 and will end with small cars making the achievement in India and Japan around 2030. While this parity takes a global perspective, it will be hard-driven by the European and Chinese markets, which are expected to represent 72% of all passenger EV sales in 2030. By 2030, China and Europe are expected to achieve the feat of 50% of all cars on the road being EVs. This will be because of the other head of EV adoption, policy support, taking the form of European vehicle CO2 regulations and China’s EV credit system, fuel economy regulations and city policies restricting new internal combustion vehicle sales. The rest of the pack As for the United States, the country will be slower to reach the levels of adoption that are expected to come to Europe and China, due to limited projections of charging infrastructure availability. The U.S. does have one factor working in its favor to make a quick catchup possible by the end of the 2030s, according to BNEF: nearly 60% of U.S. households have two or more cars – and many have the ability to install home charging. On a similar adoption rate projection to the United States comes South Korea. Like Europe and China, the South Korean adoption timeline is predicated upon strong government policy support, yet the country will also get a push from its domestic auto and battery manufacturers. The report also outlines that there will be 550 EV models available from global auto manufacturers by 2022. Despite this prediction, Japan, home to a bevy of international vehicle manufacturers that already include a number of EVs, is predicted not to take off until 2025. The report states that this is when Japanese automakers launch more EV options, although the country home to Honda, Toyota, ...
  • China new-energy vehicle sales drop for first time in over two years

    China new-energy vehicle sales drop for first time in over two years

    BEIJING (Reuters) - Sales of new energy vehicles (NEVs) in China fell 4.7% in July from a year earlier, the first drop in more that two years, data from the country’s biggest auto industry association showed. NEV sales fell to 80,000 units last month in China. That compared with a growth of 80% in NEV sales in June. Overall auto sales in the world’s biggest vehicle market fell 4.3% in July, down for a 13th consecutive month, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) said on Monday. That followed declines of 9.6% in June and 16.4% in May, as well as the first annual contraction last year since the 1990s against a backdrop of slowing economic growth and a crippling trade war with the United States. “The main reason for new energy vehicle sales decline in July is the switch of policies,” said Chen Shihua, assistant secretary general at the CAAM, referring to China’s move to cut NEV subsidies last month. CAAM has previously said it expects China auto sales to drop 5% year-on-year to 26.68 million vehicles this year. It had trimmed its forecast for a rise in NEV sales to 1.5 million, versus a previous forecast of 1.6 million. The prolonged sales decline has made local carmakers from Geely (0175.HK) to Great Wall (601633.SS) cut expectation on sales and profit. It has also prompted some global names like Peugeot maker PSA Group (PEUP.PA) to close plant and adjust workforce. China has since January been trying to boost consumption of wide-ranging goods as the world’s No.2 economy slows further in 2019 amid the trade spat with the United States. But its measures to spur car sales have disappointed as they included no plans to relax controls over the issuance of new licences for traditional-fuel cars in major cities. The implementation of NEV emission standards earlier than the central government’s 2020 deadline by 15 cities and provinces, which account for over 60% of car sales in China, have spooked buyers too and hurt sales, according to CAAM, analysts, dealers and consumers. ——
  • Safety tech explained: a guide to the key systems (II)

    Safety tech explained: a guide to the key systems (II)

    Blind spot monitoring What is it: A piece of technology that keeps a virtual eye on traffic around your car that may be lurking in your blind spot – the areas to the rear and sides that are often invisible to wing mirrors yet big enough to hide a car, truck or motorcycle. Why it’s important:By virtue of their design, some cars have large blind spots – and it’s often the biggest and heaviest SUVs with small rear windows that are the culprits. By using the short-range parking sensors embedded in the rear bumper (or sometimes a camera-based system), blind spot monitoring will sound an alarm if you put your indicator on to merge into an adjacent lane that’s already occupied by another car, truck or motorcyclist. Reversing camera What is it:Technologically simple, a reversing camera is simply a rear-facing video camera mounted somewhere on the back of a car – often above the licence plate on the bootlid or tailgate, or housed within the rear bumper, or even behind the car maker’s logo. Why it’s important:The statistics on the number of children killed by reversing vehicles in driveways alone are saddening, but those deaths could be easily prevented by having a camera to let the driver know when the area behind them is clear. Thankfully, reversing cameras are almost universal on many modern cars, even those in the smallest vehicle segments. Lane departure warning What is it:A camera-based system that monitors where your car is relative to painted road markings or – in more advanced systems – the road’s edge. If it determines that you’re straying from your lane and you haven’t signalled with your indicators, it lets you know. Why it’s important: Driving outside of your lane is often a sign that you’re either distracted from the task of driving or you’re becoming drowsy – both of which are dangerous for obvious reasons. If the lane departure warning is being triggered frequently, it’s as good a signal as any that you need to pull over and rest so you can refocus. Fatigue monitoring What is it:Fatigue monitors vary in how they detect your state of consciousness, with some using a camera to scan your face and look for visual cues (like slowly narrowing eyelids or head jerks) while others monitor the position of the steering wheel to detect abrupt movements or other fatigue-related patterns. Why it’s important:Because sometimes you don’t realise just how tired you might be getting. Fatigue is a big killer, and just like lane departure warning, a dedicated driver fatigue monitor can be an invaluable wake-up call to prompt you to pull over and either have a powernap, or change drivers. What is it:A lesser-known feature but one that’s becoming reasonably widespread, rear traffic alert uses the car’s rear camera and its reverse parking sensors to scan the street behind and to the sides, issuing an alert if it detects vehicles approaching as you’re reversing. ——
  • Turning Automotive Windows into the Ultimate HMIs

    Turning Automotive Windows into the Ultimate HMIs

    CONNECTED VEHICLES EQUIPPED WITH ONBOARD processing power and advanced sensors that collect gigabytes of data are becoming the norm in the automotive industry. As a result, the often‐overlooked world of human‐machine interface (HMI) design is now in the limelight. Indeed, automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) increasingly focus their resources on creating effective, intuitive HMIs to better leverage technological advancements in today's vehicles. One area of particular interest is the use of windows as an HMI display, which enables communication with drivers, passengers, and the outside world. Thus, here I explore potential applications and technologies for automotive window displays. Augmented Reality Head‐Up Displays Head‐up displays (HUDs) are a great example of how to use a vehicle's windscreen as a display. General Motors (GM) was the first to embrace the technology: In 1988, it built 50 Indy Pace Car edition Oldsmobile convertibles equipped with HUDs that projected a digital speedometer and turn‐signal indicators. Much like today, GM's original HUD displayed basic information via a relatively small two‐dimensional (2D) image that floated out near the car's front bumper. With technological advancements in today's vehicles—such as advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and onboard navigational systems, there is a need for a more effective HMI. To support this requirement, OEMs are working on next‐generation augmented reality (AR) HUDs. Unlike traditional HUDs, AR HUDs have a wider field of view (FOV) and can interact with more of the real‐world road scene. They also project graphics further out, enabling graphics to fuse with and mark real‐world objects. To create the illusion of fusion with the real world, the graphics must be projected out a minimum of 7 meters (m) from the driver. The overall visual effect and driver experience improve when graphics are projected out even further, with the majority of AR HUDs supporting 10‐ to 15‐m projection distances. The distance at which the graphics are projected is called the virtual image distance (VID). Among the key challenges in designing an AR HUD are meeting luminance, solar irradiance, and size requirements. If you double the display's area, you must increase the HUD imaging source's light output by an equal factor. The same relationship holds true for the eye box: Doubling the eye‐box area doubles the required light. Double the eye box and display area, and you'll need to increase the light output by a factor of four. Choosing an efficient imaging technology that can meet luminance, power, and thermal requirements is an important step in the AR HUD design process. Managing solar irradiance in today's traditional HUDs already poses a significant design challenge. Managing solar irradiance in an AR HUD (with a VID of 10 m or more and a large FOV that lets in more of the sun's energy) is even more difficult. The higher optical magnification of an AR HUD concentrates the solar irr...
  • Toyota is working on 1,000km EV battery with Kyoto Uni

    Toyota is working on 1,000km EV battery with Kyoto Uni

    Japanese car giant Toyota is working on an electric vehicle battery that it says would allow a car to drive 1,000 km in normal driving conditions. Last week, Hyundai demonstrated that an unmodified standard spec Kona Electric with 64kWh battery could drive 1,000 kilometres – but only in contrived conditions that limited the speed 30km per hour on average for the entire trip. Now, according to a report in Asia Nikkei, a team of researchers from Toyota and Kyoto University is making solid strides in developing the next generation battery technology which has the potential to pack much more energy into a small lightweight packaged than today’s standard lithium-ion batteries. The Toyota electric vehicle battery in question uses a fluoride-ion chemistry, otherwise known as FIB, that it says could have 7 times the density of current chemistry used in electric vehicle batteries. Additionally, the new technology is said to last around 8 times longer than current batteries although it was not clear how many cycles this means. The team has already developed a prototype of a rechargeable battery, using an anode made of flourine, copper and cobalt and a cathode made mainly of lanthanum, under the direction of Yoshiharu Uchimoto, a professor at Kyoto University. The researchers at Kyoto university and Toyota chose to test fluoride-ion batteries because of their theoretically significant high-energy-density. This could lead to do to developments to smaller and lighter batteries with the same range as current lithium-ion cells or with batteries of the same size leading to a significantly increase range. According to the report, the researchers opted for a solid electrolyte instead of the liquid one that is normally used in lithium ion batteries. The reason for this is because solid-state batteries are generally much less flammable (and according to this recent research can even be “fireproof”) than current lithium-ion battery chemistries, and are therefore considered significantly safer. The greatest challenge is that fluoride-ion batteries have so far only worked at high temperatures. Fluoride-ions are only efficiently conductive if the solid electrolyte is sufficiently heated, making fluoride-ion batteries impractical for many consumer applications. The high temperatures required also lead to the undesirable effect that the electrodes expand. However, the Kyoto University-Toyota team says that by making them from an alloy of cobalt, nickel and copper, they have figured out a way to stop them from expanding. The team plans to optimize the materials used in the anode to ensure that the battery can be charged and discharged without loss of capacity. The news is significant because in the arena of electric mobility, Toyota has done little on pure battery electric cars and is best known for its hybrid vehicles such as the Prius, and it has also invested a significant amount in hydrogen fuel cell technology. While it unveiled an ultra compact battery electric vehic...
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