• The first cars didn't have steering wheels, now steering wheels have capacitive touch sensors

    The first cars didn't have steering wheels, now steering wheels have capacitive touch sensors

    Modern steering wheels do more than control which direction a car goes. They're festooned with buttons that drivers can use to make phone calls or change radio stations. But the first cars didn't even have steering wheels, as you're about to learn. The 1886 Benz Patent Motorwagen—generally considered to be the first true automobile—used a tiller instead of a steering wheel. Many other early cars followed the Benz's example. The steering wheel didn't arrive until 1894, when French engineer Alfred Vacheron was looking for an advantage in that year's Paris to Rouen race. Figuring that a steering wheel would provide more precise control, he installed one on his Panhard et Levassor. Vacheron didn't win the race, finishing 11th, but the steering wheel was here to stay. Daimler adopted steering wheels in 1900 with the Phoenix. And just like modern cars, vehicles at the turn of the 20th century had steering wheel-mounted controls, but instead of infotainment functions, they controlled things like ignition timing. Steering wheels changed their look over the ensuing decades, gaining and losing horn rings, and adding power assist and airbags. Chevrolet designers fitted the mid-engine C8 Corvette with a square wheel, while Infiniti uses a steer-by-wire system with no physical connection between the steering wheel and the road. Mercedes began adding buttons to its steering wheels in 1975, when cruise control became standard equipment on the 450 SEL 6.9 sedan. That evolved into what the automaker calls its first "multifunction" steering wheel, which debuted as part of the first-generation COMAND infotainment system on the W220-generation S-Class in 1998. Mercedes added small touchpads to the steering wheel of the 2016 E-Class, and is taking things even further with the mid-size car's 2021 model year refresh. A two-zone sensor mat detects whether the steering wheel is being held, something that needs to be monitored in the age of sophisticated driver aids. Touchpads are also now capacitive, just like on a smartphone. The much-discussed arrival of autonomous driving may mean the end of steering wheels but, for now, they represent valuable dashboard real estate for automakers looking to integrate complex tech features. ——
  • Economic Watch: China embraces new infrastructure to catalyze new growth drivers

    Economic Watch: China embraces new infrastructure to catalyze new growth drivers

    China has pledged fresh efforts in advancing the construction of new infrastructure projects in a bid to further stimulate new consumption demand and boost industrial upgrading. The country plans to issue 3.75 trillion yuan (about 529 billion U.S. dollars) of special local government bonds this year, up 1.6 trillion yuan from the previous year, with priority given to new infrastructure, new urbanization initiatives and major projects, according to a government work report submitted to the national legislature for deliberation on Friday. In terms of new infrastructure, China will develop next-generation information networks and expand 5G applications, said the report. Also, more charging facilities will be built to promote wider use of new energy vehicles. Rather than resorting to a massive government-led stimulus to shore up growth, China is seeking more targeted investments in projects that facilitate innovation and improve weak areas in economic and social development. The prioritized efforts are expected to not only boost consumption and benefit the people, but also facilitate structural adjustments and enhance the sustainability of growth, according to the report. Take 5G as an example. China's investment in 5G network construction will reach 1.2 trillion yuan in aggregate by 2025, and is expected to leverage about 3.5 trillion yuan of investment in the upstream and downstream of the industrial chain as well as in other areas, according to the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology. Moreover, total economic output indirectly driven by 5G businesses in China will hit 24.8 trillion yuan over the next five years, the academy predicted. To grab the opportunities, local authorities have unveiled massive investment plans for new infrastructure projects including information networks and data centers. Shanghai, for instance, announced that it will invest around 270 billion yuan in its first batch of 48 major new infrastructure projects in the next three years, focusing on the construction of new generation network, innovative infrastructure, artificial intelligence platforms and intelligent terminals. In the period, the metropolis plans to set up 34,000 new 5G base stations and 100,000 smart charging piles for electric vehicles, along with unmanned factories, production lines and workshops. Meanwhile, south China's Guangdong Province has arranged 1,230 major projects this year with a total investment of 5.9 trillion yuan, focusing on 5G telecom networks and inter-city transit systems. Wen Bin, chief analyst at China Minsheng Bank, said construction of projects on 5G, Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and cloud computing, among others, is expected to stimulate economic vitality. Industrial observers also noted that with the implementation of these projects, a batch of new infrastructure industrial clusters are expected to spring up. In Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong, authorities are planning to forge eight major ind...
  • Electric Vehicle Sales Are Expected to Fall by 18 percent in 2020, But the Long Term Outlook Remains Positive

    Electric Vehicle Sales Are Expected to Fall by 18 percent in 2020, But the Long Term Outlook Remains Positive

    According to new research from BloombergNEF (BNEF), sales of electric passenger vehicles are forecast to fall by 18% in 2020, to 1.7 million vehicles worldwide. BNEF is a leading provider of primary research on clean energy, advanced transport and related sectors. Although its a bump in the road for automakers, the long-term electrification of transport is projected to accelerate over the next decade and beyond, as battery technology improves and the price of electric vehicles falls to be more on par with internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. BNEF published its findings today in its latest annual report "Electric Vehicle Outlook 2020." However, it doesn't mean that cay buyers are switching back to gas-powered models. Sales of combustion engine cars are poised to drop even faster this year by 23%, as the coronavirus and its economic impact has kept people away from dealer showrooms. "The Covid-19 pandemic is set to cause a major downturn in global auto sales in 2020. It is raising difficult questions about automakers' priorities and their ability to fund the transition. The long-term trajectory has not changed, but the market will be bumpy for the next three years." said Colin McKerracher, head of advanced transport for BNEF. EVs Will Account for 58% of New Cars Sold in 2040 BNEF predicts that electric models will account for 58% of new passenger car sales globally by 2040, and 31% of all vehicles on the roads. Currently, electric models account for around 3% of global car sales in 2020. This number is expected to rise to around 7% in 2023, totaling approximately 5.4 million vehicles. The numbers are even higher for commercial vehicles, such as public transit buses and delivery vehicles, and light trucks. Electric buses will account for around 67% of all municipal buses on the road by 2040 and 24% of light commercial vehicles, according to BNEF. BNEF's analysis suggests that global sales of internal combustion engine vehicles already peaked in 2017 and will continue their long-term decline as global economies recover from the coronavirus crisis. For the first time, BNEF sees overall new passenger vehicle sales peaking in 2036 as changing global demographics, increasing urbanization and more shared mobility options outweigh the effects of economic development. Advances in EV battery technology ,such as low cobalt battery chemistries, as well as improved manufacturing are expected to cause prices of EVs to fall even further over the next five years. Average market prices for battery packs have already plunged from $1,100/kWh in 2010 to $156/kWh in 2019, representing an 87% decline, according to a report released by BNEF in Dec 2019. For automakers, an average cost of $100 per kWh is a goal in making EVs just as affordable as gas-powered vehicles. BNEF expects the industry to reach this target as early as 2023, according to its research. In addition, further decreases in lithium-ion battery prices will mean that the lifetime and upfront costs of...
  • Carmakers already diving into next-gen tech to disinfect cars

    Carmakers already diving into next-gen tech to disinfect cars

    It's an automaker's job to keep tabs on deep, global trends that could contribute new features or technology to future product, and what deeper, more global trend could there be than the coronavirus? An article in the Detroit Free Press surveys how automakers, suppliers and tech companies are "investigating ways to virus-proof their vehicles to win customers in a post-COVID-19 market." Ideas began bubbling to the surface of public awareness in March, coming out of China. Geely — parent company of Volvo — said its new Icon electric crossover had been designed with an N95-certified air filtration system. Later that month, more Chinese carmakers announced a host of measures able to sterilize a city, like an autonomous 5G-capable van rolling through the city spraying disinfectant, or a manned van fitted with a negative pressure containment system. In May, Hyundai said it "is about to use UV light sterilization technology" that would be installed like a dome light in its vehicles. This week, Peugeot, Citroën and Vauxhall dealers introduced an anti-bacterial cleaning service and 29-point vehicle check.  When IHS Markit surveyed car owners in five countries, 80% said they'd pay extra for technology that could sterilize a vehicle. A Cox Automotive survey found a third of vehicle shoppers thinking about "air quality features" in a future car purchase. That's why all of the above ideas are in play closer to home, in addition to antimicrobial seating and surface materials.  A Fiat Chrysler spokesperson told the Freep, "Recent events have directed us to investigate additional technologies for improving cabin air for our heating and air conditioning systems. We're also looking at antimicrobial materials and easily-cleanable surfaces for our interiors." Michigan-based tech firm GHSP unveiled its grēnlite (pronounced "greenlight") UV-C light at CES this year. Much like the Hyundai UV light scheme, it sterilizes a vehicle when sensors detect there are no occupants, automatically scheduling new cleansing cycles when needed — and is already in use in emergency vehicles in three states. A VP at Tier 1 supplier Faurecia said, "We must combine the quick development and evaluation processes we’ve learned from the medical community with the auto industry’s needs for safety and durability," in reference to the large and small interior components the company makes. Faurecia is also looking at foggers that would spray a disinfectant such as hydrogen peroxide. Magna is evaluating "an ozone-generating system." The popular memory is short, and car development times are long, so there's no telling how this plays out. If a reliable vaccine appears in the near-term to reduce the threat of coronavirus, it's possible the public will rearrange its vehicle wishlist, returning sterilization to the same, much lower spot it held last year. Any innovations could come in through a side door, though; rehabilitating public transportation in the eyes of those who can afford other...
  • Automotive Radar Chip Processes 30 Gb/s of Data

    Automotive Radar Chip Processes 30 Gb/s of Data

    Tel Aviv-based Arbe has developed an automotive-grade (AEC-Q100) high-resolution radar chipset designed to help autonomous vehicles, as well as passenger vehicles equipped with advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), detect and identify objects. The technology can separate, identify, and track hundreds of objects in high horizontal and vertical resolution at a long range in a wide field of view. Arbe claims its radar chipset generates an image 100 times more detailed than any other solution on the market today. The system is then able to take those images and simultaneously localize and map the environment. The company’s proprietary millimeter-wave automotive-grade radar RFIC chipset includes a transmitter chip with 24 output channels and a receiver chip with 12 input channels. This processor is capable of processing 30 Gb/s of data, representing a virtual array of over 2,300 virtual channels. It can support over 100,000 detections per frame and is designed in accordance with ISO 26262 functional safety, enabling ASIL B (Automotive Safety Integrity Level) qualification. The radar processing chip makes it possible to integrate smart detection algorithms, post-processing, and SLAM (simultaneous localization and mapping) into the chip. SLAM is the computational problem of constructing or updating a map of an unknown environment while simultaneously keeping track of an object’s location within it. AI-based post-processing and SLAM can be leveraged to identify and track objects, differentiate dynamic objects from their surroundings, predict multiple object trajectory, and conduct sensor fusion with camera and other, parallel, automotive sensor systems. Achieving High-Res Object Separation Arbe’s chipset transmits and receives signals from multiple antennas. By converting information from time to frequency domains, the system provides a 4D image with high azimuth and elevation resolution while simultaneously sensing the environment in long range with a wide field of view in real time. 4D imaging radar uses echolocation and the principle of time-of-flight measurement to capture a space in 3D. In addition to azimuth, elevation angle, and slant range, it takes into account Doppler frequency as a fourth measure. Arbe’s processing chip generates 30 frames/s of 4D image, with equivalent processing throughput of 3 Tb/s. A radar system that has high-resolution object separation in azimuth and elevation will in theory lead to more accurate decision-making. When distance, height, depth, and speed are simultaneously assessed, radar can be repositioned from a supportive role to the backbone of the sensing suite. Indeed, Arbe is so confident in its radar chipset that CEO Kobi Marenko says it will enable Level 3 automation in passenger vehicles without requiring LiDAR (light detection and ranging radar). Level 3 is a designation by SAE that means conditional automation in which a driver must still be prepared to intervene. Arbe’s baseband processing chip integrat...
  • Prediction: Market for Artificial Intelligence in Cars Will Grow 1,200% in Next Six Years

    Prediction: Market for Artificial Intelligence in Cars Will Grow 1,200% in Next Six Years

    The market for artificial intelligence in the automotive industry will go from $1 billion today to $12 billion by 2026, according to a report from the prognosticators at Global Market Insights Inc. The increase is due to the push for more assistive and autonomous features for improved driving comfort and safety, as well as realizing the goal of self-driving cars and trucks. AI-powered features are already being developed, tested and offered on consumer vehicles. These include lane assistance, adaptive cruise control and automated parking. For instance, Toyota announced the launch of driver assistance for future cars that will get to level 4 of self-driving. One such feature, automatic valet parking, was jointly developed by Toyota and Panasonic; will provide affordable parking help to Toyota customers. There are several companies currently developing AI for vehicles. They include Audi AG, Daimler AG, Ford Motor Co., Harman International Industries, IBM, Microsoft, Alphabet Inc., BMW, Didi Chuxing, General Motors, Honda Motor Co., Tesla, Uber Technologies and Volvo Car Corp. These companies are primarily focused on long-term contracts and strategic collaborations to develop AI for the automotive market. Technology providers such as AMD, Intel and NVIDIA are constantly upgrading and introducing new features and energy-efficient hardware that will function in cars and consume little power. It is hoped AI can support situational intelligence with the help of several next-generation sensors and onboard computers to detect and classify parameters such as traffic, road infrastructure and pedestrians. It is predicted that this “context awareness” segment will see 35% annual growth between 2019 and 2026 based on the high demand for semi-automated cruise control and driver-assistance features. To support context awareness, computer companies are investing in all sorts of innovative technologies. For example, Intel invested $250 million into key technologies such as deep learning, security, connectivity and deep learning—technologies that will likely be broadly used if AI succeeds. Another area of development for AI is in image/signal recognition that will let cars “recognize and understand” traffic signs and speed limit indicators so the car can lower its speed without human intervention. Several government initiatives are promoting traffic sign recognition that would ensure adherence to speed limits, which would also help bump up demand for artificial intelligence in automotive markets. For example, the European Commission last year mandated that all vehicles manufactured after 2021 have built-in image or signal recognition. The goal is to reduce speeding and bad driving while promoting on-road safety. The image/signal recognition segment accounted for more than 65% of AI’s automotive market share last year, thanks to the widespread adoption of the idea that speed control is needed to reduce accidents. Europe has several major market leaders such as Audi,...
  • New tech that helps drivers steer clear of ditches and drops

    New tech that helps drivers steer clear of ditches and drops

    Driving in rural areas can be tricky when unmarked road edges become ragged and give way to open land, muddy ditches and sheer drops. Driving at night – in unlit areas especially – can be a challenge too. Most road fatalities in Europe occur on rural roads and – unlike in urban areas – car occupants make up the biggest share of those fatalities. Now Ford has introduced new technology to help make rural driving easier. Road Edge Detection scans the road ahead and can gently steer the vehicle back on track when needed. However, the company adds that "driver assist features are supplemental and do not replace the driver’s attention, judgement and need to control the vehicle.". How it works Designed for use on rural roads at speeds of 45-70mph / 70-112kph, Road Edge Detection uses a camera located below the rearview mirror to monitor road edges 50m in front of the vehicle and 7m to the side. Where a paved road becomes a soft verge, gravel hard shoulder or grass, the system provides gentle steering support as required to prevent the vehicle from drifting off the carriageway. The system features an advanced algorithm, added to Ford’s existing Lane-Keeping Aid, that determines when there are clear structural changes from the road to the area beside the road. It can also provide steering support on marked roads when the lane marking is obscured or hidden by snow, leaves or rain. If the driver is still close to the edge following initial steering support, the system vibrates the steering wheel, to prompt the driver to steer. At night, the system uses the illumination from the headlights and functions as effectively as during the day. Rural roads can be every bit as challenging for drivers as urban streets – especially for those who may be unfamiliar with their route. Road Edge Detection helps alleviate one concern to make journeys more comfortable and easier. ──


    WHAT IS A HYDROGEN FUEL CELL? A HYDROGEN FUEL CELL is an electrochemical power generator that combines hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity, with water and heat as by-products. Simply put, hydrogen fuel cells form energy that can be used to power anything from commercial vehicles to drones. HYDROGEN FUEL CELL (HFC) TECHNOLOGY offers a clean and reliable alternative energy source to customers in a growing number of applications – electric vehicles including forklifts, delivery vans and cars, primary and backup power for a variety of commercial, industrial and residential buildings, and more futuristic-sounding applications like drones and mobile phone recharging. The U.S. Department of Energy and the Fuel Cell & Hydrogen Education Association (FCHEA) are two organizations working with the fuel cell industry to promote the technology across a growing number of commercial applications. HFC TECHNOLOGY EXPLAINED How does a fuel cell work? A fuel cell is composed of three main components:an anode, a cathode, and an electrolyte membrane. Some people even call them a “fuel cell battery.” The “magic” of the PEM fuel cell is its proton exchange membrane, which looks like a piece of construction paper. It works by passing hydrogen through the anode side and oxygen through the cathode side. At the anode site, the hydrogen molecules are split into electrons and protons. The protons pass through the electrolyte membrane, while the electrons are forced through a circuit, generating an electric current and excess heat. At the cathode, the protons, electrons, and oxygen combine to produce water molecules. Fuel cells are very clean, with their only by-products being electricity, a little heat, and water. Additionally, as HFCs do not have any moving parts, they operate very quietly. ADVANTAGES & BENEFITS – 5 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT FUEL CELLS ZERO EMISSION POWER. HFCs produce no harmful emissions, eliminating the costs associated with handling and storing toxic materials like battery acid or diesel fuel. In fact, when fueled with pure hydrogen, the only by-products are heat and water, making this a zero-emission sustainable power source. HFCs are a part of many well-planned corporate sustainability programs. Hydrogen fuel cell products utilize environmentally-benign hydrogen as a fuel source, which eliminates the environmental impact of fuel spillage, leaks or air pollution and results in simplified zoning requirements. Because of this, they are exempted from the very stringent California Air Resources Board (CARB) and a number of other states’ emission permitting requirements. ROBUST RELIABILITY. HFCs have proven themselves against tough conditions including cold environments as low as -40 degrees F/C, weather environments like hurricanes, deserts and winter storms, and even the hard-working business environments of material handling warehouses. IMPROVED EFFICIENCY. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, HFCs are generally between 40–60% en...
  • Engine is not the first cost of automobile production, and the electronic system has gradually become an important part!

    Engine is not the first cost of automobile production, and the electronic system has gradually become an important part!

    In the past, the largest proportion of automobile production cost was 30% of the power system, followed by 20% of the transmission and steering system, while the rest of the vehicles body, chassis, suspension, brake, electronic parts and other equipment shared the remaining 50%. However, with the development of technology, the proportion of electronic equipment is no longer the same. According to foreign research, automobile electronic equipment has accounted for the overall production 40% of the cost by 2017 will even reach 45% by 2030. In the future, you will buy a mobile electronic product. According to the semiconductor white paper released by Deloitte, the demand for electronic parts in the automobile industry is increasing year by year. The cost of electronic parts in automobile production has increased from 18% in 2000 to 20% in 2007, and reached 40% by 2017. The reason is that the common digital instruments, touch screens, active safety protection systems, electric steering machines, intelligent headlights, etc. Technology has boosted the number of electronic chips. The report points out that the semiconductor industry has jumped to a point in the automotive supply chain. In 2013, the total cost of electronic chips was about 312 US dollars, which has been raised to 400 US dollars so far. It is estimated that by 2022 it will be more than 600 US dollars. After all, the trend of the electric vehicle is obvious. Its functions of battery, motor, automatic driving system, vehicle communication network interface will gradually become popular, especially for self-driving. To achieve the level 4 goal, the sensors installed around the car body will have 24 modules. Without these chips to support your vehicle, you may not be able to drive. Therefore, the high growth of electronic equipment has gradually reshaped the automobile industry. ──
  • Flying cars are about to become a part of life, flying a taxi is not a dream

    Flying cars are about to become a part of life, flying a taxi is not a dream

    According to information released by Morgan Stanley, by 2040, the market value of self-driving flying cars will reach 1.5 trillion US dollars (equivalent to about 10.4 trillion yuan). The author's survey found that several large companies that are now involved in the development of flying cars and have made good progress have set the landing time of flying cars in 2030. According to Uber's survey data, by 2030, urban infrastructure will face tremendous pressure from urbanization, 60% of the population will migrate into urban life, and the existing public transportation layout will even use the ground and underground transportation resources. Maximization is still difficult to support. At this time, the unlocking of urban short-distance travel is imperative. This huge outlet, whether it is a start-up company or Google, Uber, Geely and other companies we are familiar with, even the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has entered the board. Boeing As early as the 2018 Farnborough International Aerospace Exhibition, Boeing Chief Technology Officer Greg Hyslop said that it is very optimistic about the future of flying cars, and Boeing's existing technology can support it to create safe flying cars. "Autonomous flying cars will be a market with great potential, and Boeing's Boeing NeXt department will be used to solve the problems that arise in the development of flying cars." The Boeing NeXt department is headed by Steve Nordlund, Vice President of HorizonX, the venture capital business of Boeing. It will use the resources of the entire company to promote development in the future. If the progress is smooth, Boeing NeXt will also be independent from Boeing. Value. In addition, considering the automation and electrification of flying cars, Boeing has also established a cooperation with artificial intelligence company SparkCognition. Both parties will use blockchain technology and artificial intelligence to develop an air traffic management system. This new air traffic management system can improve the safety factor and operational efficiency by tracing the flight routes and conditions of unmanned flying vehicles in the air, allocating traffic routes and passages for flying vehicles. In terms of electrification, Boeing has invested in power and battery power technology-related industries to prepare for future electric flying vehicles. Auspicious As a well-known automobile group in China, Geely's actions have always been bold, after Geely fully acquired the flying car company Transition to enter the flying car industry. The first mass-produced flying car launched by Terrafugia, Transition, has passed safety inspections by the US Air Traffic Control Agency and the Department of Defense. It began accepting reservations in October 2018. The official guide price is 280,000 US dollars (about 1.9 million yuan). Transition not only has the appearance of a car, it also has two huge wings, the wings on both sides can be automatically deformed, and it on...
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