Category Archives: Autonomous Vehicles

Volocopter Flying Taxis to Revolutionise Urban Transport

Daimler-Volocopter-830x467

The objective of making flying possible for everyone has drawn closer:  In July 2017 the aviation start-up Volocopter agreed a finance deal over 25 million Euros with the automobile firm Daimler from Stuttgart, the technology investor Lukasz Gadowski from Berlin and further investors. Using this fresh capital  Volocopter will further expand upon the leading technology in its purely electrically driven VTOLs, (eVTOL), speed up the introduction process of the Volocopter serial model and conquer the market for flying air taxis. The safe, quiet and environmentally friendly aircraft, suitable for transporting two passengers, will revolutionize mobility in metropolises. In order to realize this vision Volocopter also invests in its team and  plans to continuously develop it further.

volocopter-2x-innercity-preview

Volocopter is up for a soaring start not just because of the successful round of funding: As early as in June the young enterprise already won top place in the international run for the world’s first pilot project involving air taxis in urban spaces. In the fourth quarter of 2017 Volocopter, together with the state transport authority „Roads and Transport Authority“ (RTA) in Dubai, will conduct initial demonstrations of an autonomous air taxi. By 2030 Dubai aims to carry out 25% of its passenger transportation with the help of autonomous means of transport.

“The strong financial commitment of our new investors is a signal as well as proof of the growing confidence in the newly emerging market for electrically driven VTOLs put to use as personal air taxis“  Florian Reuter, managing director of Volocopter, is pleased to point out. “We deliberately sought a mix of investors with strategic and entrepreneurial backgrounds  and were able to implement this perfectly with Daimler und Lukasz Gadowski”.

Automobile companies specifically are intensely interested in the mobility of the future – in autonomous driving or electrical mobility for example. Daimler is therefore a very valuable strategic partner for Volocopter. “We are world leaders in the development of electrical VTOL aircraft” says Reuter, “and for it to stay that way in the future we are very pleased with the participation of the worldwide leader in automobiles”.

The investor Lukasz Gadowski on the other hand, can support the aviation start-up in very different ways: He has already successfully founded and financed numerous enterprises. Gadowski has enormous experience in the fast and global scaling of tech start-ups. This will be of great value to Volocopter in asserting itself on the global market. “I have been interested in flying cars and following their development for a while. When I saw the Volocopter I got it: The “flying car” has no wheels! What is exciting at Volocopter is not just the magnificent vision but also that which has already been tangibly implemented. Huge ambition with both feet on the ground – a unique combination! In the coming years we can expect a revolution in manned aviation. We at Volocopter will significantly contribute to shaping it!”

Together with its partners, Volocopter will be using the new funding to further expand upon technical innovations and its pioneering role within the emerging industry. The plan is to further the development of the Volocopter up to production maturity and commercial licensing through aviation authorities worldwide. Amongst other things, extensive test flight programs are envisaged for this purpose. In order to speed up progress, the employment of additional engineers specialized in the development of flight systems, software and electric propulsion as well as the development of commercial function is envisaged.

To introduce the Volocopter serial model to the market with full impact the company will also apply the investment to developing brand awareness. The prelude to this will be the new website which is launched today. In addition a professional communications team all around marketing and PR will be installed in order to be optimally equipped for planned events and demonstrations of the Volocopter in the coming months. This will create additional interest and customers for the Volocopter – besides RTA in Dubai.


About Volocopter

Volocopter GmbH is the global leader in the development of vertically launching, fully electrical multicopters for the transport of people and of heavy lifting cargo drones. The technical platform is extremely flexible and permits piloted, remote controlled and fully autonomous flight. In addition, the unique design offers a huge degree of safety based on the high redundancy of all critical components. The company’s stated objective is to make every human’s dream of flying come true and to help modern cities resolve their increasing mobility issues. As early as 2011 the company earned its entry into the history of aviation through the manned flight of the world’s first purely electrical multicopter. Since then the young enterprise has set new milestones: In 2016 Volocopter was granted provisional licensing for a two seater Volocopter by the German aviation authority and in 2017 the aviation start-up entered into an agreement with RTA Dubai over the global premiere of an autonomously flying air taxi. The first licensed Volocopter should be on the market next year. In the meantime, the founders Stephan Wolf and Alexander Zosel have gathered an excellentteam of experienced managers like CEO Florian Reuter (formerly of Siemens) and CTO Jan-Hendrik Boelens (formerly of Airbus Helicopters). This paved the way for the further expansion of the company.

25 Million Euros for Volocopter
⋅ Lukasz Gadowski and the Daimler AG are amongst investors
⋅ Increased investment flows into the launch of the Volocopter

Souce: Volocopter

George Hotz has created an $88 device that will let you ‘hack’ your car so that it can do new things

georgehotzi

Famous hacker George Hotz put his first car product on the market on Friday, a few months after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration prevented him from selling a self-driving roof kit.

Called Panda, the device sells for $88 and can plug into a vehicle’s OBDII port to access data typically only available to vehicle manufacturers. Hotz also released a software tool called Cabana that will allow car enthusiasts to reverse engineer their cars using the data compiled by Panda.

Why would you want to do that?

The idea is to let people “hack” their cars the same way they can tinker with and customize a computer. That could mean souping up a vehicle with semi-autonomous features. Using the Panda/Cabana combo for example, someone could theoretically write software to give a car automatic braking or advanced cruise control (assuming the car has the necessary sensors built-in).

The Panda dongle can also let car owners geek out and access information about the car’s performance under certain conditions, such as how fast the car can accelerate on a full tank of gas versus a half tank of gas.

Clearly this isn’t aimed at the average driver.

Hotz is best known as the first person to hack the iPhone when he was 17, allowing people to use the phone on other networks aside from AT&T’s. He also broke into the PlayStation 3 in 2010 when he was 20.

 

panda comma aiComma AI just launched its first product, Panda.Comma AI

Both Panda and Cabana are being sold by Hotz’ startup, Comma AI, which initially planned to sell a self-driving retrofit kit for $999 at the end of 2016.

“A car is $25,000. Imagine you can buy a $1,000 add-on kit to the car you already have versus buying like a new Model 3 Tesla? It looks like a pretty good value proposition,” Hotz previously told Business Insider.

But Hotz decided not to sell the roof kit in late October after receiving a letter from the NHTSA that asked the startup to provide information ensuring the product’s safety or face civil penalties of up to $21,000 a day.

Comma AI still has ambitions to build, what Hotz has called, the Android version of Tesla Autopilot. Users can choose to upload the data collected to Comma AI’s chffr cloud app, which Hotz said will be used to build future self-driving car models.

“iOS is a walled garden that only runs on one model, just like Autopilot is a walled garden that only runs on one manufacturer’s car,” he said. “Android on the other hand runs on many different manufacturer’s phones. That’s where we want to be.”

Source: Business Insider

Toyota pushes into blockchain tech to enable the next generation of cars

On the same day that Ford officially ousted its chief executive in a bid to remake itself as future-focused vehicle manufacturer, Toyota announced its own steps to embrace technology’s next wave.

Andwhile Ford is looking to catch up to the leaders in autonomous and electric vehicle manufacturing, Toyota (through the Toyota Research Institute) appears to be taking the next fork in the road toward enabling that autonomous and electric future.

Together with MIT’s Media Lab, Toyota has enlisted a series of partners that specialize in different aspects of blockchain technology (the distributed, encrypted ledger technology that powers the cryptocurrency bitcoin) to explore how the technology may be applied to the car industry.

Toyota unveiled a number of projects that aimed to address how software will help people become comfortable with autonomous technologies. That means monitoring and distributing information about the safety of individual vehicles, the way owners use the cars, and cut down on fraud.

“Hundreds of billions of miles of human driving data may be needed to develop safe and reliable autonomous vehicles,” said Chris Ballinger, director of mobility services and chief financial officer at Toyota’s research institute, in a statement. “Blockchains and distributed ledgers may enable pooling data from vehicle owners, fleet managers, and manufacturers to shorten the time for reaching this goal, thereby bringing forward the safety, efficiency and convenience benefits of autonomous driving technology.”

Initially the research is focusing on sharing data on every trip that an autonomous vehicle takes; on developing tools that users can have to make ride-sharing easier; and to create new insurance products that are usage-based for customers who may prefer that coverage.

“I’m excited Toyota is spearheading this initiative that uses blockchain technology to create an open platform where users can control their driving data,” said Neha Narula, Director, Digital Currency Initiative at the MIT Media Lab, in a statement. “Our hope is that other industry stakeholders will join this effort to bring safe and reliable autonomous vehicles one step closer to reality.”

TRI isn’t just working with MIT on the initiative, but also with a few choice startups and smaller companies big in the blockchain space. Berlin-based BigchainDB, a startup which raised over $3 million to develop a flexible, scalable blockchain-based ledger; is helping develop the kind of architecture Toyota will need to roll out to have growth and scale it wants. Meanwhile Oaken Innovations and Commuterz, from Dallas and Tel Aviv, respectively, are working to develop blockchain apps for car sharing, vehicle access and payments and carpooling.

Finally, Toyota is tapping the Los Angeles-based blockchain application developer, Gem to port the applications it has been developing for the healthcare insurance industry to car insurance. The company provides a ledger for distributed inputs from a number of different sources that can then be used to automate much of the insurance claim process.

With Toyota, Gem will specifically work on usage-based insurance products tied to the telematics coming off of a users’ vehicle.

TRI’s partners include: Berlin-based BigchainDB, which is building the data exchange for sharing driving and autonomous vehicle testing data; Oaken Innovations, based in Dallas and Toronto, is developing an application for P2P car sharing, vehicle access and payments with a newly created mobility token; Commuterz, a startup from Israel, is working with TRI on a P2P carpooling solution; Gem, from Los Angeles, is working with Toyota Insurance Management Solutions (TIMS) – Toyota’s joint venture telematics car insurance company – and Aioi Nissay Dowa Insurance Services on the usage-based insurance platform.

FEATURED IMAGE: CHOMBOSAN/SHUTTERSTOCK

Source: Jonathan Shieber Techcrunch

Uber plans flying cars to beat jams

 

Flying cars may finally move from science fiction to factVALERY HACHE/AFP/GETTY

The $70bn (£54.6bn) ride-hailing giant has made much of its plans for self-driving cars. The next step is more outlandish. The San Francisco company is one of more than a dozen pouring money into the development of crafts that take off like a helicopter but fly like an aeroplane — VTOL (vertical take-off and landing vehicles).

Uber claims that these flying machines could be the key to ending millions of hours that are wasted by people sitting in traffic. The company will this week hold a summit in Dallas to unveil progress towards the
large-scale introduction of airborne cars.

Source: The Sunday Times

 

Stan Boland Revved up for driverless


Stan Boland’s Streetwise will get £12.8m to test driverless vehiclesADRIAN SHERRATT

Plans to put driverless cars on Britain’s roads have been fired up by a government decision to support a consortium led by a veteran technology entrepreneur.

Stan Boland, pictured, leads the StreetWise project, which will receive £12.8m from Whitehall for its £23m project to test driverless vehicles on London’s roads in two years.

The Streetwise consortium is led by Boland’s FiveAI, a Cambridge and Bristol start-up that uses artificial intelligence for software to run driverless cars. It includes the Transport Research Laboratory, Oxford University, Transport for London and insurer Direct Line.

The grant underlines the commitment to supporting driverless cars and AI in business secretary Greg Clark’s industrial strategy green paper.

“We can look to become a technology leader and catch up with countries such as the US, Germany and Sweden that have already staked their claim in the market,” said Boland, 57, who started FiveAI, whose backers include Amadeus Capital Partners, in 2015. He has a strong track record of building technology firms. At Acorn Computers, he created a new business called Element 14, which was bought by US giant Broadcom in 2000 for $640m.

He co-founded chip designer Icera, sold to America’s Nvidia in 2011 for $367m (£286m).

The London trial will test a “personal mobility service” for commuters to cut congestion and pollution, improve safety and free up parking spaces.

Source: Andrew Lynch. The Sunday Times

Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC) Elects Mahfuzur Rahman of Samsung as Its President

CCC_LOGO_Registered_color

The Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC) today announced the election of Mahfuzur Rahman, Director of Standards & Technology at Samsung Research America, as its new President. Mahfuzur will oversee the CCC, an organization driving global technologies and standards for car connectivity solutions. He will also chair and serve on the CCC Board alongside representatives from General Motors, Volkswagen, Daimler, RealVNC, HTC, PSA, Honda, LG Electronics, Hyundai, Alpine, Toyota, and Panasonic. Mahfuzur has been an active CCC Participant and Board member since the beginning of 2016.

Mahfuzur brings two decades of Consumer Electronics industry experience in connected device services & strategies to this new position. Mahfuzur, in his role as Director of Standards & Technology Enabling at Samsung, is leading R&D and industry consortia activities. Prior to Samsung, Mahfuzur was a Scientist at Panasonic Research in Princeton, New Jersey. Mahfuzur has a vast experience in industry consortia governance due to his involvement on boards of directors or in executive roles in a number of industry consortia including the Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA), the UPnP Forum, the NFC Forum, and the IMS Global Learning Consortium. He has published over 20 articles at various international conferences, journals, and books and has filed and/or granted over 40 patents.

“The CCC, over the years, has become an organization that facilitates the stakeholders of phone-car connectivity ecosystem to develop state-of-the-art connected car features. I am thrilled and excited to lead CCC in this exciting time and be part of the endeavor to drive CCC into new areas,” said Mahfuzur.

The Car Connectivity Consortium is currently expanding its portfolio of technologies beyond MirrorLink including two very exciting projects: “Digital Key,” where smartphones are used to gain access to the car, and “Car Data,” which builds an ecosystem for features such as usage-based insurance. These projects are currently in the development phase since approval by the CCC board in June 2016. For further information about CCC projects please use the link http://carconnectivity.org/contact.

About the Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC)

The CCC is dedicated to cross-industry collaboration in developing global standards and solutions for smartphone and in-vehicle connectivity. The organization’s more than 80 members represent more than 70 percent of the world’s auto market, more than 60 percent of the global smartphone market and a who’s who of aftermarket consumer electronics vendors. For further information, please visit www.carconnectivity.org.

Source: Car Connectivity Consortium

Greg Clark’s Vison for the UK to become an Innovator in Automotive Technology

SMMT_Master_Brandline_(RGB)

On Tuesday, less than two weeks after Business Secretary Greg Clark outlined his vision for the UK as a CAV test bed to an SMMT Connected audience, he joined Transport Minister John Hayes in announcing how £109 million will be invested to help create the next generation of cutting-edge vehicles.

Along with a significant financial commitment from industry, government has backed 38 connected, autonomous and low emission vehicle technology projects across Britain, through the CAV2, OLEV and Advanced Propulsion Centre funding competitions. As ever, the winners exemplify the diversity of R&D taking place within the UK. We eagerly await announcements for the CAV3 competition later this year.

The UK is already a hotbed of innovation and we want to be the destination of choice for the development and testing of connected, autonomous and low emission vehicles. Government collaboration and investment, combined with funding from industry, will help this technology flourish and the UK to reap substantial economic and social benefits.

Following last week’s news that diesel cars are proving more popular than ever, SMMT set out to put the record straight on their contribution to air quality, climate change and the functioning of the national economy and society. Delivering only one side of the argument does a disservice to consumers, who must make a decision about which vehicle is right for their driving needs. For many, especially those that cover high miles, the answer will still be a new, Euro 6 emissions standard diesel. These modern cars, which contribute greatly to reducing CO2 emissions, are the cleanest diesels ever produced and, importantly, they will not be subject to charges in the new London Ultra Low Emission Zone.

There remains much more to discuss for UK Automotive as the year goes on and Brexit negotiations begin. The SMMT International Automotive Summit, launched this week, sees a return to the stage of last year’s lively Brexit panel, including Chris Giles, Economics Editor at the FT, and Bronwen Maddox, Director of the Institute for Government. Further sessions will focus on supply chain and retail, as well as the ever-important topic of sustainability, coinciding with the 18th edition of SMMT’s annual Sustainability report. Make sure Tuesday 20 June 2017 is in your diary and then get your tickets here.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive
Follow @SMMT on Twitter

Source: Mike Hawes SMMT

 

Volkswagen’s Latest Project: The AI Car

CeBIT Logo 2000px PNG

Volkswagen’s Latest Project: The AI Car

“The next three or four years will be decisive,” says Chief Digital Officer at Volkswagen Johann Jungwirth on the reinvention of the car.

At the CeBIT Global Conferences, he explained what VW is working on and what role artificial intelligence will play for the car of tomorrow.

Let’s start with what Jungwirth did NOT speak about at the Sakura Stage in Hall 8: alternative engines. That was it really. Instead, the Volkswagen CDO showed, in fast-forward, how the corporation is digitizing its core business. The key term here was artificial intelligence. “AI is everywhere and it will take on a central role in the car of the future,” states Jungwirth. No one expects it to replace humans, but to complement us where it can – in the dashboard, for example.

“Today you have to push seven or eight buttons before you find what you’re looking for on the in-car entertainment system. We want to reduce that number to one – if not zero.” With this, he means to say that our voices and gestures will come to control far more than just the sat nav. The car recognizes its driver’s expressions, mood, and destination. By monitoring location data and road behavior, the user experience adapts to each specific situation.

Self-Driving Cars Right to Your Door

“The engine used to represent the heart of a car, but the autonomous driving system will soon take over.” AI is of course central here as well. The self-driving car is expected to make transport safer, preventing over a million traffic-related deaths a year. It should make parking easier, too. According to Jungwirth, we waste a third of our time in cars looking for parking spots. The autonomous vehicle would solve this problem by dropping the passenger off at their front door before finding a place to park by itself. It could then be summoned back at the touch of a button.

And discussions on parking didn’t end there. Huge car parks have long been required in highly-developed cities. But Jungwirth claims that in a couple of years only a seventh of these will be necessary. This is because fewer people will be buying cars, with the preference shifting towards using them only on demand. “For 96 percent of the time, cars just sit there,” states Jungwirth. An autonomous shared vehicle would be almost permanently in motion, dropping one passenger off and immediately locating the next – like a self-driving taxi. VW is the first company to develop this kind of mobility concept – which it has given the working title “Sedric” (self-driving car).

Will it remain just a concept? Yes, most likely. But a whole host of Sedric-inspired ideas will undoubtedly become reality – perhaps even in the next three to four years.

Find out more about Sedric and the CeBIT Global Conferences .

Source: CeBIT

 

Driverless Vehicles Demoed in Formula E

 

Roborace unveiled its Robocar at MWC’s ‘Connected Vehicles’ keynote, with CEO Denis Sverdlov stating the initiative will push the industry to improve driverless and autonomous vehicles.

He also believes driverless car racing will help people accept robots on the street, and is a great way to show the public the benefits of artificial intelligence (AI).

“It was very important for us that we created an emotional connection to driverless cars and bring humans and robots closer together to define our future,” he said.

Software engineers will be the “true heroes” of the initiative, which is a “fair competition” of intelligence rather than budget, as all teams have the same Robocar to work with – in order to win they have to focus entirely on the software.

So far, Roborace has performed demos with ‘Devbots’, which completed 12 driverless laps in Morocco. Despite a recent crash, Sverdlov is confident in the technology, adding that accidents will only help improve learning.

The car, designed by Daniel Simon, who created vehicles for Hollywood sci-fi films like Tron Legacy, uses a number of technologies to drive itself including two radars and six AI cameras, and makes up to 24 trillion AI operations per second.

The Roborace series takes place on Formula E city street circuits.

Alejandro Agag, CEO of Formula E, said all the big auto companies, like Audi, Renault and Mahindra, want their teams to win and this pushes them to invest resources into improving electric cars, and this will play a big role in boosting the autonomous car industry.

Source: Mobile World Live

Germany, France agree on transnational self-driving test zone

In a bid to win the race to develop self-driving cars and give a leg-up to their automakers over their rivals from Silicon Valley, the two EU nations have joined hands to test the cars on a stretch of road linking them.

Daimler Trucks LKW autonomes Fahren (Daimler AG - Global Communications Commercial Vehicles)

European neighbors Germany and France plan to test self-driving vehicles on a section of road linking the two countries, the transport ministry in Berlin said Wednesday.

The route stretches around 70 kilometers (43 miles), from Merzig in Germany’s western Saarland state to Metz in eastern France. It is aimed at testing “automated and connected driving in real cross-border traffic,” the ministry noted.

“Manufacturers will be able to test the connectivity of their systems, for example when lanes or speed limits change at the border,” German Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt said in a statement following a meeting with his French counterpart Alain Vidalies.

“We want to set worldwide standards for this key technology through cooperation between Europe’s two biggest car-producing countries,” he added.

The route will allow testing of 5G wireless communications between cars and infrastructure, automated maneuvers such as overtaking and braking, and emergency warning and call systems, among others.

An automated future?

Germany, home to car giants such as Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW, already boasts a number of test zones for automated vehicles on motorways and in cities, but this is the first that will cross into another country.

The transport ministry has offered 100 million euros ($107 million) in funding for the projects.

The tests come as the nation’s traditional carmakers are racing to catch up to Silicon Valley newcomers such as Tesla, Uber and Google parent company Alphabet in the new field, seen as the future of driving.

Automated trucks in particular are expected to shake up the road transport sector in the years to come.

In a glimpse of what lies ahead, manufacturers took part in an experiment last year that saw six convoys of “smart” trucks cross several European countries using “platooning,” in which a leading truck sets the route and speed for wirelessly-connected self-driving followers.

sri/uhe (AFP, Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure)

Source: Deutsche Welle