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

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

    The days are long gone when airbags and three-point seatbelts were considered high-end safety kit for cars. The technology used to keep motorists safe has evolved rapidly over the past 20 years, which is fantastic news for car buyers, but what features should be non-negotiable these days and what features are merely icing on the safety cake? Autonomous emergency braking What is AEB: Also commonly referred to as emergency auto-brake or simply AEB, autonomous emergency braking uses forward-facing sensors (usually a laser or camera, sometimes a radar, and sometimes all three!) to monitor your distance from the traffic in front of you. If the car in front stops suddenly and the system detects that you haven’t braked sufficiently to avoid a collision, it takes over and slows the car down automatically. Some systems can even detect pedestrians, cyclists or animals at low speeds. Why is AEB important: It’s always the responsibility of the driver to stay vigilant and monitor the road ahead, but sometimes it’s not possible to keep tabs on absolutely everything. Turning your head to check the lane beside you can sometimes be all it takes for danger to appear in front of you. That’s where AEB comes in. It’s always scanning the road – and sometimes several cars in front of you – and checking how fast you’re closing in on obstacles ahead, whether that’s another car or something more solid. It’s not a substitute for an attentive driver, but it can make the difference between pulling up with space to spare or running into the rear of the car in front. Airbags - more of them What are they: Airbags have been around for decades, having first being introduced in the 1970s. But while dual front airbags for the driver and front passenger have been common since the late 1990s, in recent years the number of airbags fitted to passenger cars has risen to at least six – two front ones, side airbags for the front seats and curtain airbags that extend across the front and rear seats (and often the third row, too, in some but not all larger cars). But some cars come with even more than that, with side airbags for rear occupants, seatbelt-mounted airbags and knee-level airbags available. Why are airbags important: Though your seatbelt remains the most important restraint in a crash, airbags work wonders by helping lessen the shock forces encountered in an impact. By cushioning more parts of your body, your chances of survival are not only dramatically increased, but you may even be able to walk away with barely a scratch. Rear side airbags are a good idea if you regularly carry passengers, while head-protecting curtain airbags should be considered a must-have due to their ability to minimise the chances of brain injury in a side impact. Electronic stability control - more features What is it: Electronic stability control (ESC) is now standard in many cars, but not all systems are as capable as each other. Stability control is a blanket term that covers any kind of computer-co...
  • Xpeng Motors Files For IPO On NYSE

    Xpeng Motors Files For IPO On NYSE

    Upstart Chinese electric vehicle maker, Xpeng Motors has officially filed for its initial public offering (IPO) on the New York Stock Exchange. The move wasn't a surprise and had been anticipated for some time now. The announcement makes XPeng the third electric vehicle manufacturer out of China to list its shares in the US. The timing of the announcement doesn't seem to be ideal, as US-China relations continue to be strained. However, the two EV automakers from China that have already had IPOs in the US have done so successfully. NIO, in particular, has seen its stock climb considerably in 2020. Xpeng recently completed its C+ round of investment, which saw $900 million injected into the company by investors including Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, Aspex, Coatue, Hillhouse Capital, and Sequoia Capital China. Xpeng began deliveries of its second vehicle, the P7 long-range sports sedan, just last month. Their first vehicle, the G3 compact SUV has been on sale in China since December of 2018 and has sold just over 20,000 units to date. The Xpeng P7 is currently the longest-range EV made in China, beating the long-range Tesla Model 3 by 24 miles (38 km). The P7 has an NEDC range rating of 706 km which translates to 438 miles, and the long-range Tesla Model 3 is officially rated at 668 km (414 miles) by the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT). The P7's price range is RMB 229,900 to 349,900 ($32,462 to $49,404 US) after the new-energy-vehicle subsidies are factored in. The G3's price after subsidies ranges from RMB 143,800 to 180,800 ($20,124 to $25,302 US). InsideEVs visited Xpeng's Guangzhou headquarters last year to talk to the automaker and see their vehicles first-hand. I was able to go for a ride in their G3 SUV and was impressed with the fit and finish, as well as the advanced driver assist systems, especially since it's reasonably priced. The G3 is currently made at Haima Automotive's Zhengzhou manufacturing facility under a joint operating agreement. That's very common in China because it's difficult for a startup to get its own manufacturing license. Xpeng secured its license and built a state of the art manufacturing facility in Zhaoqing, Guangdong Province, which just recently opened. The P7 is currently being made there. Xpeng is particularly proud of its ADAS because they are one of the only automakers in China that isn't outsourcing its ADAS software for core semi-autonomous driving features. NIO, for instance, uses Mobileye systems. Li Auto has partnered with Bosch for its ASAD equipment. Like Tesla, Xpeng has elected to fully develop its software in-house. While building the ADAS software systems entirely in-house is an enormous cash-drain, the long-term benefits are worth it. Since it's their system, they own all the data and they don't have to wait for their supplier to offer system updates. They can push out frequent OTA updates whenever they are ready, while competitors need to...
  • ADAS: Everything You Need to Know

    ADAS: Everything You Need to Know

    When properly designed, these systems, referred to also as ADAS, use a human-machine interface to improve the driver's ability to react to dangers on the road. What are ADAS? Advanced driver-assistance systems, are technological features that are designed to increase the safety of driving a vehicle. LogisFleet explains that when properly designed, these systems, referred to also as ADAS, use a human-machine interface to improve the driver's ability to react to dangers on the road. These systems increase safety and reaction times to potential through early warning and automated systems. Some of these systems are built standard to certain vehicles, while aftermarket features and even entire systems are available to add at a later date to personalize the vehicle to the driver. Technological innovation and the explosion of automation initiatives have greatly increased the popularity of safety systems in vehicles. A small sample of the available systems include the following: Adaptive Cruise Control Anti-lock Brakes Forward Collision Warning High Beam Safety System Lane Departure Warning Traffic Signals Recognition Traction control The Future of ADAS According to Global Edge Soft, Future-generation ADAS will implement wireless network connectivity to enable Vehicle to Vehicle (V2V) and Vehicle to Infrastructure (V2I or V2X), furthering the growth in popularity of these systems. To put it simply, cars will be able to communicate with each other and through a great mainframe to provide a more safe, automated driving experience. Although the growth of ADA system innovation has garnered exponential popularity, the market has experienced restraints in moving forward with this technology on a large scale. One of the largest constraints involves scalability and its immense cost. Getting these systems into more factory-built vehicles requires many costs on many levels of compliance, safety standards, and more. Additionally, increasing the efficiency and performance of the systems comes with a steep price tag. Even with the current roadblocks, the expectation is that the ADAS market for the Asia-Pacific region will reach $9.69 billion by 2023 with a growth rate of 28.6% between 2018–2023. This growth is also attributed to recently proposed mandates within the government regarding these driver assistance systems and the relationship between the systems and a lower number of road incidences. When did ADAS first appear in the United States? Per Greg Smith Equipment, the early ADA systems began gaining popularity in the United States in the early 2000s, including: 2000 Cadillac Deville – Night Vision (NV) 2000 Toyota – Dynamic Laser Cruise Control (ACC) 2004 Infinity FX – Lane Departure Warning (LDW) 2006 Lexus LS – Lane Keeping Assist (LKA) 2007 Audi – Lane Assist (LDW) 2008 GM – Lane Departure Warning (LDW) Earlier, more mechanical technologies appeared in American vehicles as far back as the late 1970s, when the first electronic anti-lock braking systems were i...
  • Autonomous Vehicles to Race at Indy 500 Speedway

    Autonomous Vehicles to Race at Indy 500 Speedway

    One of – if not the – most famous car races in the world, the Indianapolis 500, will take AV form a year from this fall when more than 36 universities globally will compete for $1.5 million in prize money in the Indy Autonomous Challenge, to be held at the world-famous motor speedway in Indiana. MIT, the Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology, the University of Virginia and Graz University in Austria are among the universities that will take part in race, according to an article in today’s Wall Street Journal, in which the autonomous Indy race cars will go 20 times around the 2.5-mile track – with the stipulation that the cars must cross the finish line in under 25 minutes (an average of about 110 miles per hour — a human driven car has circled the track averaging 239 MPH). The race is being organized by the nonprofit Energy Systems Network (ESN), a spinoff from the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership, a regional development agency, to encourage development of emerging technologies. “Self-driving cars have so much potential, but their commercialization efforts are slow; the technologies are still expensive,” said Matt Peak, a managing director at ESN, told the Journal. According to the story, “the teams will develop neural nets, computer vision and other artificial intelligence systems enabling the cars to race at high speeds. They will use a modified version of the Dallara Automobili IL-15 racing car, with Clemson University helping to integrate the teams’ AI software and required hardware into the vehicles.” Just as car racing is an extreme test for human drivers, so it will be for AV technology. The Indy Autonomous Challenge will be the first head-to-head, high-speed autonomous race at the speedway, according to the race organizers, in which the self-driving Dallara IL-15s “will be subjected to the pressures of professional racing conditions, with speeds of up to 200 miles an hour and the need for split-second decision-making around collisions. They also will have to deal with factors such as wind shear and slipstream physics,” the Journal said. “To us, racing is a proving ground,” said Dr. Madhur Behl, an assistant professor at the University of Virginia who is leading one of the teams, told the Journal. “It’s the stress test for AI, for autonomous vehicles.” The first stage of the challenge will be a simulation of the race, to be held next February, using simulation technology from Ansys, which has offered $150,000 to be the top performer in the challenge’s simulation round. The simulation will help the teams test their algorithms on a virtual track – and the simulation-generated data will be used to further train the algorithms. “We can create, with physics, multiple real-life scenarios that are reflective of the real world,” said Ajei Gopal, Ansys president and CEO. We can use that to train the AI, so it starts to come up to speed.” UVA’s Dr. Behl has relatively modest expectations of the Indy AVs – he said the technology i...
  • Nissan introduces the Ariya, an electric crossover with ADAS features

    Nissan introduces the Ariya, an electric crossover with ADAS features

    Nissan introduced the all-new Nissan Ariya, an electric crossover SUV that lets customers travel farther while enjoying greater driving excitement, confidence and comfort, and connectivity. With a 100% electric powertrain, the Ariya promises powerful acceleration and smooth, quiet operation. Drivers and passengers can relax and enjoy the ride thanks to autonomous driving technology, concierge-level assistance, seamless connectivity and a spacious, lounge-like interior. With an estimated range of up to 610 kilometers1, the no-compromise Ariya is perfect for daily commutes and weekend road trips alike. Advanced design and technology for stress-free driving The Ariya is also the most technologically advanced Nissan car to date. Drivers will feel more confident and less stressed thanks to the ProPILOT 2.0 advanced driver assistance system and the ProPILOT Remote Park and e-Pedal features. Also standard across the Ariya lineup is Nissan’s Safety Shield system. This includes Intelligent Around View Monitor, Intelligent Forward Collision Warning, Intelligent Emergency Braking and Rear Automatic Emergency Braking technology. An all-new human-machine interface lets customers use natural speech to adjust car settings. Over-the-air firmware updates keep the Ariya feeling fresh and exciting. The Ariya also includes Amazon’s Alexa to help customers simplify and organize their lives. ——
  • China leads world in electric car charging piles

    China leads world in electric car charging piles

    China had 1.32 million charging piles for new energy vehicles by the end of June, including 558,000 public charging piles, the highest in the world, People's Daily reported, citing data from the National Energy Administration. Last month, the total charging volume of China's public charging infrastructure surpassed 600 million kilowatt-hours for the first time, up 48.8 percent year-on-year, an official from the China Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Promotion Alliance, told the newspaper. "The number of newly added charging piles is steadily increasing, thanks to effective control of the COVID-19 epidemic." At present, China's public charging infrastructure operators face high concentration. By the end of June, eight charging operation enterprises including TELD, State Grid and Star Charge, had more than 10,000 charging piles in operation, accounting for 88.8 percent of the total. The National Energy Administration is working together with other authorities to further implement the plan for enhancing capabilities to meet the demand for charging NEVs, actively support innovation in the charging business model, and promote the integrated development of charging service platforms. It will also speed up addressing issues regarding charging in residential areas, difficulties in the construction of charging facilities in old residential areas, and safety hazards of charging facilities. Sales of NEVs in China posted robust growth in June, as the world's largest auto market steadily expands its recovery. Some 104,000 NEVs were sold last month, up 26.8 percent from the previous month, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. ——
  • Elon Musk: Tesla 'very close' to Level 5 autonomous cars

    Elon Musk: Tesla 'very close' to Level 5 autonomous cars

    Elon Musk says Tesla is "very close" to developing a completely autonomous driving system, the basics of which he is confident will be completed before the end of the year. During a video played at an AI Conference in Shanghai, Musk said the company had solved most of the problems associated with so-called Level 5 (L5) autonomous driving - when no human interaction is needed. "I'm confident that we will have the basic functionality of L5 autonomous driving this year," the Tesla CEO said, adding: "There are no fundamental challenges." There are considered to be six levels of autonomous driving, starting at zero. Tesla's current autopilot feature is what is known as Level 2 - partial automation. When driving in autopilot, a Tesla is able to steer as well as control acceleration - but a human is needed to sit behind the steering wheel to take control at any time. There have been a number of car crashes associated with drivers using Tesla's autopilot feature when not paying attention to the road - two of which are being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board in the US. In one incident, an Apple engineer died when his Tesla Model X on autopilot hit a concrete barrier - something he had previously complained to his wife about the autopilot feature veering him towards. ——
  • Six reasons for car factory to upgrade Wi-Fi 6

    Six reasons for car factory to upgrade Wi-Fi 6

    Car manufacturers are rapidly adopting Wi-Fi 6, not only because the latest Wi-Fi 6 standard can greatly improve original performance, but also bring many other aspects of optimization to the market. For decades, when car enthusiasts talked about car performance, the topic always revolved around the original speed. For each generation of new models, people focus on how quickly the car accelerates from zero to 60, or how long it takes to run a kilometer. Now, these conversations are changing. Electronic devices provide support for the car, enhance the driving experience, and expand the definition of vehicle performance. People are not only concerned about whether the speed of a given car model is improved, but also whether it is more intelligent, safer and more functional than similar vehicles. A similar situation occurs in the discussion of Wi-Fi standards. When using the previous generation of Wi-Fi standards, speed is the main goal of each generation of new technology improvement. Today, companies are rapidly adopting Wi-Fi 6, not only because the latest Wi-Fi 6 standard greatly improves original performance, but also brings many other optimizations to the market. These optimizations are critical to achieving a seamless wireless experience in the face of a growing use case in vehicles. Growing use cases of Wi-Fi Wi-Fi is the core technology used by customers to connect and interact with vehicles. It can be used to play streaming music and video, provide hot spots for devices in the car, project mobile phones to the digital cluster, and download and update the infotainment system wirelessly. Car manufacturers hope to expand these usage models in the future to support the growing number of innovative use cases, including: ●Data transmission and recording of multiple cameras inside and outside the car to enhance driving safety; ●Upload the data of autonomous driving electronic designs sensor and camera, so that the vehicle factory can improve the drivers’ auxiliary tools; ●Upload maintenance and diagnostic information, so that the repairman can know the fault condition of the car before you order the repair. Car manufacturers even hope to use Wi-Fi to program the vehicles on the production line before handing them over to customers, or update the car toughness when the car is parked in the dealer's parking lot. Wi-Fi technology can also be used to detect children accidentally left in the car in hot weather. Six advantages of in car Wi-Fi 6 1. Reduce network congestion In recent years, with more vehicles (most of which are expected to carry at least one Wi-Fi device by 2022) to provide Wi-Fi functionality, the use of Wi-Fi has increased significantly, resulting in increased network congestion and interference inside and outside the vehicle. This kind of network congestion will affect the wireless performance on roads, in traffic jams, in parking lots, and even in dealer showrooms. Wi-Fi 6 can increase the overall available bandwidth, reduce network...
  • China considers in-car air quality regulations, report says

    China considers in-car air quality regulations, report says

    BEIJING -- China is considering mandatory in-car air quality regulations to protect the health of drivers, in a move that could increase costs for automakers importing vehicles from markets without such rules, people with knowledge of the matter told Reuters. New in-car air quality rules in the world's biggest auto market will likely pose a headache for auto interior parts suppliers too as they will need to tweak their products to meet new requirements, the people said. According to talks led by officials from the environment watchdog, new vehicles will be required to clear an in-car environment test after their doors have been shut for hours. Regulators will test the level of contaminants including formaldehyde and benzene, three people familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity as the talks are not yet public. Officials also want to test electromagnetic radiation levels as electric vehicles and combustion-engine cars use more electronic devices, the people said. Some customers have expressed concern about radiation from these electronic devices, but an official at China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said last year that such radiation would not harm human health. China's Ministry of Ecology and Environment did not immediately respond to a request for comment. China currently allows global brands to sell cars without local certification for in-car air quality standards. In 2011, China's environment and quality watchdogs published a guideline for passenger vehicle's in-air quality but stated the standards were just recommended and not compulsory. However, in recent years, China has been trying to enforce its own vehicle certification standards. In 2019, it accelerated an independently designed strict emissions standard for gasoline cars after using European-like emissions rules for years, leading to a sales chaos. ——
  • Surprise! The new Mercedes S-Class has a massive touchscreen

    Surprise! The new Mercedes S-Class has a massive touchscreen

    To tide us over until we see the actual car in a few months, Mercedes has given us a sneak peek of its new flagship’s interior tech. And unsurprisingly there’s not a button in sight. Yep – the new S-Class is going to be a veritable tech fest, with a gigantic 12.8-inch touchscreen infotainment system at its core. And no physical climate controls, because it’s 2020 and apparently those aren’t allowed anymore. Climate controls are always displayed though, in a band running across the bottom of the screen. And Merc has elected to keep separate control panels, buttons and stalks for headlights, wipers and so-on. Don’t worry, it hasn’t gone full Tesla just yet. We’re told the new MBUX system has 50 per cent more processing power than the old one. Its GPU has 691 ‘gigaflops’ – whatever those are – and there’s a built-in 320GB solid-state hard drive. You can touch, swipe and pinch your way through menus, much as you can on your phone. You can talk to it, too – Merc claims its “Hey Mercedes” voice assistant, which can understand 27 different languages, is now cleverer and more ‘natural’ than ever and can do pretty much anything you ask of it. For some functions, though, you can just glance or gesture in a given direction. We’ve seen gesture control before and to be honest it’s a bit rubbish, but Merc’s new “MBUX Interior Assistant” promises more. Using cameras pointed at the car’s occupants, the system can effectively guess what it is you want to do, then do it for you. Look over your shoulder and it’ll automatically open the rear sunblind, for example. And if it sees you scrabbling around on the passenger’s seat at night looking for something, it’ll turn a light on for you. The system has other benefits – it knows when you want to get out of the car just by interpreting your body language, then can warn you about passing cars, cyclists or pedestrians. Clever if it works, but probably quite annoying if it doesn’t. The augmented-reality head-up display (AR-HUD) sounds cool. The S-Class can project directions (and so on) onto an area equivalent in size to a 77-inch telly, at a virtual distance of around ten metres. It can project arrows and instructions onto the road surface, leaving you in no doubt as to what lane you need to be in. Moreover the instrument cluster uses yet another camera to track your eyes and create a clever 3D effect. But the S-Class is a limo, really, so Mercedes says it has “systematically designed the new edition of its flagship model with the rear in mind”. Rear seat passengers get up to three screens, all with full access to the main infotainment system. In all, the S-Class gets up to five screens, some of which make use of OLED tech and haptic feedback. Content can be shared between screens, and all passengers can even set up their own profile, which is stored in the cloud and can be downloaded to other compatible Mercs. Or other seats in the same Merc. Your S-Class will know quite a bit about you, then. But fear not, because Merc ...
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