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

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

    2020-07-16
    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. ——Source:carmagazine.co.uk
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  • Turning Automotive Windows into the Ultimate HMIs

    Turning Automotive Windows into the Ultimate HMIs

    2020-08-24
    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...
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  • Toyota is working on 1,000km EV battery with Kyoto Uni

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

    2020-08-21
    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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  • Safety tech explained:a guide to the key systems (I)

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

    2020-07-16
    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...
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  • Xpeng Motors Files For IPO On NYSE

    Xpeng Motors Files For IPO On NYSE

    2020-08-11
    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...
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  • ADAS: Everything You Need to Know

    ADAS: Everything You Need to Know

    2020-08-03
    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...
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  • Autonomous Vehicles to Race at Indy 500 Speedway

    Autonomous Vehicles to Race at Indy 500 Speedway

    2020-07-27
    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...
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  • Nissan introduces the Ariya, an electric crossover with ADAS features

    Nissan introduces the Ariya, an electric crossover with ADAS features

    2020-07-24
    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. ——Source:safecarnews.com
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  • China leads world in electric car charging piles

    China leads world in electric car charging piles

    2020-07-23
    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. ——Source:global.chinadaily.com.cn
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  • Elon Musk: Tesla 'very close' to Level 5 autonomous cars

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

    2020-07-17
    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. ——Source:news.sky.com
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