Tag Archives: GPS

Sierra Wireless launches interchangeable modules for 2G, 3G & 4G M2M applications

Sierra Wireless delivers new level of flexibility to essential wireless connectivity for M2M

New AirPrime® HL Series modules are the smallest embedded wireless modules to be completely interchangeable across 2G, 3G, and 4G technologies; offer choice of snap-in connectivity or solder-down for scalable production; and are future-proof, thanks to over-the-air upgradability


Sierra Wireless have announced the launch of the latest additions to the AirPrime® HL Series of embedded wireless modules for machine-to-machine (M2M) applications. The new AirPrime HL modules include satellite navigation support and are the smallest embedded wireless modules (22 x 23 mm) to be completely interchangeable across 2G, 3G, and 4G technologies. They provide device manufacturers with the ability to serve different regions, across multiple network technologies, with one device design.

The AirPrime HL Series is designed to be flexible, providing manufacturers with the choice of soldering down the module for efficient high-volume production, or using an innovative snap-in socket. With the snap-in socket, device manufacturers can quickly place the module in the device any time in the production cycle and swap 2G modules for 3G or 4G modules in the future, even in completed and field-deployed devices. With both the snap-in and solder-down options, manufacturers can leverage one design for their 2G, 3G, and 4G deployments, simply by changing the module installed in production – no other changes to the device design would be required.

In addition to the flexible hardware design, the AirPrime HL Series is designed to be future-proof. With AirVantage Management Service, an off-the-shelf cloud-based M2M platform from Sierra Wireless, customers can easily upgrade device firmware over-the-air for thousands or even millions of deployed devices at a time, ensuring they can stay in service for many years while lowering maintenance time and operating costs.

“We know that integrating new technology is one of the key challenges our customers face in their M2M deployments and it can prevent customers from deploying or evolving to new technologies as quickly as they would like to,” said Dan Schieler, Senior Vice President, OEM Solutions for Sierra Wireless. “The AirPrime HL Series meets that challenge head-on, providing a clear and simple 2G-to-4G migration path, the flexibility to swap modules as required, and effective, scalable firmware management for post-deployment upgrades. It’s an innovative solution to some of the most critical issues we see in M2M deployments across multiple industries.”

The AirPrime HL Series is ideal for M2M communications applications in point-of-sale, smart grid, and fleet management or tracking, with GNSS (GPS and GLONASS) included. Samples of the first product in the series, called the HL6528 (2G), are available now with commercial shipments expected to begin in the first quarter of 2014. Samples of the HL8548 (3G) are expected to be available in the first quarter, with commercial shipments expected in mid-2014. 4G LTE versions will follow, with more specific launch dates to be announced later.

Source: Sierra Wireless

GPS Technology used for driverless car trials in Milton Keynes

Battery-powered driverless cars will run on the pavements of Britain within TWO YEARS

GPS technology will enable the battery-driven two-person “pods” to steer round objects, people and each other as part of a “science fiction future”


The future: A Personal Rapid Transit vehicle
The future: A Personal Rapid Transit vehicle

Driverless cars that can hit speeds of 12mph will be gliding along pavements and using sensors to avoid hitting pedestrians by 2015.

GPS technology will enable the battery-driven two-person “pods” to steer round objects, people and each other.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “The number of cars in the world is expected to reach four billion by 2050, four times today’s number, so it is important that the UK is at the cutting edge of new technologies.

“Driverless cars have the potential to generate the kind of high-skilled jobs we want Britain to be famous for as well as cutting congestion and pollution and improving road safety.”

The £2-a-trip pods will be hailed and paid for via a mobile phone app.

David Willetts, the minister for higher education at the business department, said the scheme was part of a “science fiction future”.

He added: “In 25 years we will look back and be amazed at how much time we used to waste driving ourselves places.

“We will be hopping into a car that will drive us to the cinema where we will tell it ‘park yourself and come back and get me at 10.15pm.’

“One aim is to see if driverless cars are safer so we can cut road traffic accidents. They don’t get drunk or drive under the influence of drugs. They don’t get exhausted and fall asleep.”

Google introduced driverless cars in California last year and they have now driven 400,000 miles in America without a single accident

A £65million trial of the cars in Milton Keynes, Bucks, starts in 2015. The 100-strong fleet is expected to be fully operational two years later.

Fleet telematics and satellite communications

The race to space is back on as demand for satellite broadband connectivity continues to outpace supply, with planes being a primary consideration at the moment, but fleets likely to benefit as well. Jenny Neill reports.

The race to space is back on as demand for satellite broadband connectivity continues to outpace supply, with planes being a primary consideration at the moment, but fleets likely to benefit as well.

Satellite network operators are betting that efficiency improvements and new inventions will drive down the costs of delivering high-throughput, two-way satellite data, thus making it available to more people, in more places.

The medium and low-Earth orbiting satellite systems designed in the mid- to late-90s have been integrating a number of technological improvements, and they are now poised to come fully to fruition. And some analysts expect that inventions like Kymeta Corporation’s metamaterial beam-tracking antenna will disrupt the markets.

Still in product development, a prototype of the antenna, which combines a standard PCB-like circuit board composed of several thousand sub-wavelength resonators with proprietary software that tunes them, closed a satellite downlink in an internal test earlier this year.

Both airline passengers and fleet owners are likely to benefit, as, with more people buying satellite services, hardware and transmission costs are expected to drop.

Providing connectivity in areas with gaps in cellular coverage, or in parts of the world where building a mobile phone network is too costly, is an obvious place to start.

But there are other opportunities.

Vern Fotheringham, CEO of Kymeta Corporation, envisions using satellite to deliver in-vehicle infotainment to long-haul truckers. There is the possibility of making software updates to vehicles. And Tom Freeman, Kymeta’s senior director of the advanced products and servers group, anticipates the data capabilities and ancillary advancements to include the ability to “inventory items out in the middle of nowhere.”

First Movers

Two satellite service providers, O3b Network and Inmarsat, have already penned agreements with Kymeta to develop flat panel antennas.

Founded in 2007 with backing from Google, Liberty Global and HSBC to build a medium-Earth orbit constellation, O3b Network is a relative newcomer. Inmarsat, on the other hand, was among the first to offer mobile satellite services to marine fleets in 1982.

Both development deals entail incorporating Kymeta’s mTenna into products for underserved markets.

In the case of O3b Networks, the low-cost and lightweight antenna is expected to enable reliable and fast data connectivity for tropical and subtropical nations. The Inmarsat arrangement aims to address another market where demand outstrips service supply: business travelers connected in flight.

SiriusXM is also vying for an early mover advantage in satellite telematics. Its recent move to buy Agero’s connected vehicle services unit may be motivated by a desire to acquire both subscribers and engineering talent.

Another partnership, Aireon, a joint venture between Iridium Communications and NAV Canada, has said it intends to put a global air surveillance system in orbit with the laudable goal of increasing aviation safety and optimizing airliner fuel efficiency.

Finally, NEXT, the re-creation of Iridium’s low-Earth orbiting constellation incorporates into its second generation satellites new GPS receivers designed to track air traffic. And the updated network will also benefit the company’s fleet management customers in the emergency service, mining and construction verticals.

“Fundamentally, we can get more bits per hertz of spectrum with the modern technologies,” says David Wigglesworth, vice president for M2M data services at Iridium. “We just get a lot more efficiency, and we can play that back to our customers in terms of increased speeds.”

According to Fotheringham, a relatively modest-sized flat panel antenna aperture can today deliver about 20 to 30 megabits per second down and two to 10 megabits up, compared to a few hundred or a few thousand bits per second in throughput once available to Omnitracs, one of the first fleet management services to rely on satellite.

The small size of the mTenna prototype shows just how much technology has advanced since the early days of fleet management, and Fotheringham is in a unique position to make that argument. “I was the guy that ran around the country with the very, very first Omnitracs prototype and showed all the trucking companies this first nationwide mobile messaging solution via satellite,” he says.

Creating New Markets

The reason senior managers, like Wigglesworth and Fotheringham, can so readily recite spectral efficiency rates or tout benefits for customers are obvious. They are vying to keep the attention of potential business customers while systems get deployed, integrated and tested; and new business models are designed and pitched.

Although the main focus is currently on airline passengers, fleets are expected to become the main customers in another three or so years.

Peter Vanderminden, industry manager at Microsoft responsible for tracking manufacturing, transportation and supply chain trends, remarks: “Satellite telemetry has long held out promise, but it left a lot of corpses, if you will, littering the landscape – companies that were maybe ahead of their time, hadn’t really thought through the business model. Many proposed a solution that, although it enabled you to be connected all the time, was just cost prohibitive.”

So, when will the price be right?

Analysts and innovators alike predict that all but the largest multinational logistics companies will wait until demand is high enough that a strong case for return on investment can be made.

Still, plenty of market opportunity exists.

According to projections presented by Dominique Bonte, practice director covering global telematics for ABI Research, there was a less than 15% market penetration rate for embedded fleet management telematics systems in the United States overall.

And to be able to provide reliable global coverage remains an elusive goal for many in fleet management telematics. This is especially true of those relying only on cellular networks, according to Microsoft’s Vanderminden.

“With a company like a UPS or a Fed Ex, it’s great that their devices tracking their deliveries can work almost ubiquitously in urban and suburban areas,” he says. “But even here, within the U.S., there are places where you just don’t have the cellular connection – out in the middle of North Dakota, South Dakota, Idaho, Montana; or up into the Adirondacks of New York state trying to make a delivery up to Blue Mountain Lake.”

If marketing hyperbole is to be believed, as early as 2015, nowhere on Earth will be out of reach of the new and updated constellations. Central to such claims are technologies designed to deliver higher throughput through spot beams in the Ka and Ku frequency bands, which is where innovations like Kymeta’s come in.

“Our satellites can now be overhead instead of at the horizon,” says Kymeta’s Freeman. “We can track satellites as they move. So all of a sudden, trees, trucks, buildings and adjacent containers aren’t blocking us. Satellites moving around up there with vehicles moving down here is no longer an issue.”

Source: Jenny Neill /Telematics Update

Fueltek Fuel Management & Masternaut Telematics: taking the driver out of the loop

FUELTEK, well known suppliers of end-to-end fleet fuel management solutions are delighted to announce a partnership with vehicle telematics specialist MASTERNAUT to offer a reliable simple-to-use solution that improves the quality of information captured at the point of refuelling.

FUELTEK’S established Datadisk fuel management system when coupled with MASTERNAUT’S proven on board telematics can download information about the vehicle which is to be fuelled. Traditionally data has been captured using keypad entries or data capture equipment with varies degrees of accuracy. The FUELTEK Datadisk system automatically identifies the vehicle and then talks to the MASTERNAUT telematics software to establish the exact vehicle mileage at the point of fuelling.   “Asking a driver to enter the mileage reading at the point of fuelling has always been problematic, most of the electronic data capture equipment has proved less than robust, leading to unreliable usage which creates unreliable statistical analysis when producing reports,” says Martin Devine, Managing Director of Fueltek

“The relationship with MASTERNAUT has helped us develop a fantastic innovation simplifying almost every aspect of a fleet’s fuel logging and management. Datadisk technology makes sure that whenever a vehicle is fuelled, the system knows exactly how much fuel is taken on-board, the previous and current mileage readings ensuring the relationship of fuel pumped to the mileage is absolute”.

“The combined service enables us to finally take operator error out of the equation for our Fuel Management applications. When the system can automatically identify each vehicle as it is presented for fuelling and automatically log both its fuel demand and logged mileage, then the operator can be absolutely confident that his fuel security is complete.” affirmed Martin Devine.

All Fuel monitoring reporting and management functions are done through Fueltek FMO web based software.

Masternaut’s patented MuxyGPS technology combines non-intrusive installation protecting warranty and servicing with contactless CANbus reading technology reporting on vehicle odometer capture – an improvement on GPS or MapMatching technology. This means that reporting error rates are transformed regardless of vehicle type or operation.

“Masternaut’s brand of telematics is beyond traditional map-based software and focuses on the benefits for multiple business applications. Our Partnership with Fueltek is the latest in string of innovations where we can combine products and applications to uncover an increasing number of value-added services to our customers” Commented Steve Towe, Managing Director, Masternaut.

“With our partnership with Fueltek we are delighted we can offer customers return-on-investment measured in process time, automated data collection and new layers of data accuracy improvement that will assist the provision of strategic business information including fleet economy or emission reporting”.

Mercedes S 500 Drives 100 KM Autonomously through interurban and urban route

When it sent its S 500 INTELLIGENT DRIVE research vehicle along a historic route in August 2013, Mercedes-Benz became the first motor manufacturer to demonstrate the feasibility of autonomous driving on both interurban and urban routes. The route in question, covering the 100 kilometres or so from Mannheim to Pforzheim, retraced that taken by motoring pioneer Bertha Benz exactly 125 years ago when she boldly set off on the very first long-distance drive. In the heavy traffic of the 21st century the self-driving S-Class had to deal autonomously with a number of highly complex situations – traffic lights, roundabouts, pedestrians, cyclists and trams. It should be noted that this trailblazing success was not achieved using extremely expensive special technology, but with the aid of near-production-standard technology, very similar to that already found in the new E and S-Class. The project thus marks a milestone along the way that leads from the self-propelled (automobile) to the self-driving (autonomous) vehicle.

In August 1888, Bertha Benz set off on her famous first long-distance automobile journey from Mannheim to Pforzheim. In doing so, the wife of Carl Benz demonstrated the suitability of the Benz patent motor car for everyday use and thus paved the way for the worldwide success of the automobile. Precisely 125 years later, in August 2013, Mercedes-Benz recorded a no less spectacular pioneering achievement following the same route. Developed on the basis of the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the S 500 INTELLIGENT DRIVE research vehicle autonomously covered the approximately 100 kilometres between Mannheim and Pforzheim. Yet, unlike Bertha Benz all those years ago, it did not have the road “all to itself”, but had to negotiate dense traffic and complex traffic situations.

“This S-Class spells out where we’re headed with “Intelligent Drive” and what tremendous potential there is in currently available technology,” says Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chief Executive Officer of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars. “Of course, it would have been a lot easier to take the autobahn for the autonomous drive from Mannheim to Pforzheim. But there was a special motivation for us to carry out this autonomous drive along this very route 125 years after Bertha Benz. After all, we wouldn’t be Mercedes-Benz unless we set ourselves challenging goals and then went on to achieve them.”

Autonomous driving with production-based sensors

The Mercedes-Benz S 500 INTELLIGENT DRIVE research vehicle was equipped with production-based sensors for the project. Based on a further development of the sensor technologies already in use in the new S-Class, the developers taught the technology platform to know where it is, what it sees and how to react autonomously. With the aid of its highly automated “Route Pilot”, the vehicle is able to negotiate its own way through dense urban and rural traffic.

“For us, autonomous vehicles are an important step on the way to accident-free driving,” says Zetsche. “They will bring greater comfort and safety for all road users. That’s because autonomous vehicles also react when the driver is inattentive or fails to spot something. On top of that, they relieve the driver of tedious or difficult tasks while at the wheel.”

“With our successful test drives following in the tracks of Bertha Benz, we have demonstrated that highly automated driving is possible without the luxury of specially closed-off sections of road and relatively straightforward traffic situations,” says Professor Thomas Weber, member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG with responsibility for Group Research and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars Development. “In line with the goal of the project, we have gained important insights into the direction in which we need to further develop our current systems in order to enable autonomous driving not just on motorways, but also in other traffic scenarios. Even we ourselves were quite surprised at just how far we got using our present-day sensor technology. But now we also know how much time and effort is needed to teach the vehicle how to react correctly in a host of traffic situations – because every part of the route was different,” adds Weber. This experience will now be incorporated into the engineering of future vehicle generations to be equipped with such innovative, further-developed functions. The Head of Daimler’s Research and Development stresses: “With the new S-Class, we are the first to drive autonomously during traffic jams. We also want to be the first to bring other autonomous functions in series production vehicles. You can expect that we will reach this goal within this decade.”

Several levels of autonomous driving

The main advantages of autonomous driving are plain to see: it allows motorists to reach their destination quickly, safely and in a more relaxed frame of mind. Above all on routine journeys, in traffic jams, on crowded motorways with speed restrictions and at accident blackspots, an autonomous vehicle is capable of assisting the driver and relieving them of tedious routine tasks. However, the intention is not to deprive the driver of the experience and pleasure of doing the driving for themselves. “Our autonomous systems offer to assist and unburden the driver. Those who want to drive themselves are free to do so, and that won’t change in future either,” stresses Daimler development chief Weber. “It’s clear, however, that autonomous driving will not come overnight, but will be realised in stages. With this drive, we’ve now taken another important step into the future.”

A distinction is made between three levels of autonomous driving. These have been defined by a VDA working group in collaboration with the German Federal Highway Research Institute (BASt): partially, highly and fully automated.

  • With partially automated driving, the driver must constantly monitor the automatic functions and must not pursue any non-driving-related activity.
  • In the case of highly automated driving, the driver need not permanently monitor the system. In this case, non-driving-related activities are conceivable on a limited scale. The system recognises its limitations by itself and passes the driving function back to the driver with sufficient time to spare.
  • With fully automated driving, the system is capable of autonomously coping with every situation; the driver need not monitor the system and can pursue non-driving-related activities. Equally, driverless driving is possible at this level.

Partially automated driving is already available to drivers of new Mercedes-Benz E and S-Class models: the new DISTRONIC PLUS with Steering Assist and Stop&Go Pilot is capable of steering the vehicle mainly autonomously through traffic jams. This system thus forms the core of “Mercedes-Benz Intelligent Drive”, the intelligent networking of all safety and comfort systems on the way to accident-free and, ultimately, autonomous driving.

The now successfully conducted autonomous test drives along the Bertha Benz route allowed the Daimler researchers to gather important information on the challenges that remain to be addressed on the way to highly and fully automated driving and what, for example, still needs to be done to enable a car to navigate safely in highly complex situations involving traffic lights, roundabouts, pedestrians and trams.

Initial road tests using technology platforms based on the E and S-Class

Unnoticed by the public, yet authorised by appropriate official exemptions and certificates from the TÜV (German Technical Inspection Authority), testing of the “Route Pilot” on the Bertha Benz route began in early 2012 with a total of three technology platforms based on the E and S-Class, which are equipped with all available active and passive safety systems.

These test vehicles employed only those sensor technologies that are already today used in similar form in Mercedes-Benz standard-production vehicles. This is because those technologies are already affordable and suitable for everyday use, which facilitates a possible transfer to subsequent standard-production models. However, improvements were made to the number and arrangement of the sensors in order to achieve comprehensive coverage of the vehicle’s surroundings in every direction, and to obtain additional information on the area around the vehicle.

Based on these sensor data and determination of the vehicle’s own position with reference to information from a digital map, an autonomously driving vehicle analyses the available free area for driving and plans its own route. The required algorithms were developed by the Mercedes-Benz research team in collaboration with the Institute for Measuring and Control Technology at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT).

The specific technical modifications compared with the standard-production version of a Mercedes-Benz S-Class are as follows:

  • The base width (distance between the eyes) of the stereo camera was increased to allow more-distant objects to be detected not only by the radar, but also by the camera.
  • Two additional long-range radars were installed at the sides of the front bumpers to provide early detection of vehicles coming from the left or right at junctions. A further long-range radar monitors the traffic to the rear.
  • Four short-range radars at the corners of the vehicle provide improved detection of the nearer surroundings and other road users.
  • Traffic lights are monitored by a colour camera behind the windscreen with a 90-degree opening angle.
  • Another camera looks towards the back through the rear window to locate the vehicle with reference to known environment features. These environment features were previously entered on a digital map. By comparing what has just been seen by the camera with what is stored on the map, the vehicle is able to locate its position with significantly greater accuracy than would be possible with GPS alone.

For the trip along the Bertha Benz route, Mercedes-Benz collaborated with KIT and HERE, a division of Nokia specialised in the production of digital maps and location-specific services, to produce a 3D digital map of the route between Mannheim and Pforzheim that was specifically adapted to the requirements of an autonomous vehicle. In addition to the road layout, this map – which must meet special requirements with regard to accuracy – includes information on the number and direction of traffic lanes and traffic signs as well as the positions of traffic lights. Digital maps of this kind are a key prerequisite for autonomous driving. Mercedes-Benz and HERE will therefore continue their collaboration in future with regard to the development of “intelligent” 3D digital maps for autonomous vehicles.

Route Pilot reacts to diverse traffic situations

The Route Pilot in the research vehicle is required to cope with a host of different challenges both on country roads and in urban traffic: roundabouts, obstructions in built-up areas with oncoming traffic, cyclists on the road, turn-off manoeuvres, variously parked vehicles, red traffic lights, “right before left” priority junctions, crossing pedestrians and trams.

The autonomously driving S-Class was monitored during the tests by specially trained safety drivers who, whenever the system made an incorrect decision, were able to intervene immediately and take over control of the vehicle. As real traffic is unpredictable – which means that no driving situation is exactly the same as an earlier one – a record was made each time it became necessary for the safety driver to take over control of the vehicle. This information was then evaluated by the development team, thus making it possible to extend the vehicle’s repertoire of manoeuvres. This advances the development of the technology platform, enabling it to cope with more and more traffic situations.

The test drives along the 100-kilometre-long route deliver important information for further development of the technology and the product. “For example, it became apparent that the recognition of traffic light phases under different lighting conditions and the correct pairing of individual traffic lights with traffic lanes represents a major challenge,” explains Prof. Ralf Herrtwich, head of driver assistance and suspension systems at Daimler Group Research and Advance Development, a role in which he initiated the autonomous driving project. “However, it is not our intention that the vehicle should master every situation on its own. If, for example, the road is blocked by a refuse collection vehicle, we certainly don’t want the vehicle to automatically overtake it, especially as the vision of the vehicle’s sensors is restricted in such a case. In such a situation, the vehicle passes control back to the driver.”

For the company, the success of the autonomous road tests lies above all in having identified those areas on which the development team needs to concentrate in future. “We now know where we can make further improvements and refinements to the vehicle’s repertoire of programmed manoeuvres, i.e. the situation-dependent control commands for steering, engine and brakes, such as how to autonomously negotiate a roundabout.” A further challenge is to correctly locate the vehicle on the road, in order to determine, for example, precisely where a vehicle should stop at a junction while at the same time having a view of cross-traffic.

A particular challenge for autonomous vehicles is the way in which they communicate and interact with other road users. Coming to an agreement with an oncoming vehicle on who should proceed first around an obstruction is something that requires a very great deal of situational analysis. “Where a human driver might boldly move forward into a gap, our autonomous vehicle tends to adopt a more cautious approach,” says Herrtwich. “This sometimes results in comical situations, such as when, having stopped at a zebra crossing, the vehicle gets waved through by the pedestrian – yet our car stoically continues to wait, because we failed to anticipate such politeness when we programmed the system.”

To enable the developers to reconstruct the decisions made by the autonomous research vehicle in individual driving situations, the car makes recordings of all its sensor data. Images from the stereo camera alone generate 300 gigabytes of data every hour. Also in later standard operation, some of these data will continue to be stored. That’s because if, for example, an autonomous vehicle is involved in an accident, this information will make it possible to establish what happened.

Challenges on the path to autonomous driving

Before the goal of highly and fully autonomous driving is achieved, the obstacles to be overcome will not be just of a technical nature. Many of the things that are already technically feasible are still not universally permitted.

For instance, international UN/ECE Regulation R 79 (steering systems) allows only corrective steering functions, but not automatic steering at speeds above 10 km/h. Under the Vienna Road Traffic Convention, which is relevant for EU law, the driver must be in constant control of their vehicle and be capable of intervening at all times. As autonomous vehicles were still out of the question at the time this convention was adopted, clarification is needed with regard to what this means for highly or fully automated vehicles. In some US states such as Nevada, there has already been such clarification, at least as far as the trial operation of autonomous vehicles is concerned. Another prerequisite for the transition from partially to highly automated systems is their acceptance in society. Just as when the automobile was originally invented, it will first of all be necessary to build up confidence in the technical capabilities of the systems. This is borne out by a recent study carried out by the Customer Research Centre at Mercedes-Benz involving around 100 test persons aged between 18 and 60. The initial scepticism of the study participants was almost entirely dispelled following an autonomous drive in the driving simulator. Even among those participants who were negatively disposed to begin with, there was a significant increase in acceptance after the drive in the simulator.

One way of ensuring that map data and route information is always kept up to date is to use “Car-to-X Communication”. This could enable future vehicles to help each other to generate real-time maps, because, theoretically, every car is capable of recording the route it has driven and entering it in a database. Information on a red traffic light could be relayed from a waiting car to other road users. Alternatively, the traffic light itself could send a signal to nearby vehicles. Mercedes-Benz has been working for several years on communication between vehicles and between vehicles and their environment. This year, it is set to become the first manufacturer to bring “Car-to-X functions” onto the market.

PROMETHEUS – pioneering achievement on the way to autonomous driving

Mercedes-Benz’s success on the Bertha Benz route is the latest result of years of research in the field of autonomous driving. An earlier milestone was the Daimler-Benz-initiated research project EUREKA-PROMETHEUS (“Programme for European Traffic with Highest Efficiency and Unprecedented Safety”), which ran from 1986 and whose test vehicles made headlines when, in 1994, in normal traffic, they covered around 1000 kilometres, mainly autonomously, on a multi-lane motorway in the Paris region and then, in 1995, drove from Munich to Copenhagen. Consequently, almost 20 years ago, Mercedes-Benz demonstrated that automated driving on motorways, including lane-changing, overtaking and keeping a safe distance, is technically feasible.

One of the outcomes of the Prometheus project was DISTRONIC adaptive cruise control, which went into production in the S-Class in 1998. Based on DISTRONIC, Mercedes-Benz has developed a succession of assistance systems capable of detecting hazardous situations, warning the driver and, ever more frequently, also automatically intervening. The project also resulted in Speed Limit Assist, which went into series production in 2005. Continuous further advances in environment detection using stereo cameras, also first tested as part of PROMETHEUS, created the foundation for the “6D Vision” stereo camera, which has now been launched in the new E- and S-Class. Patented by Daimler, this technology makes it possible to anticipate the real-time movements of other nearby road users.

At a technical level, Prometheus and the Mercedes-Benz S 500 INTELLIGENT DRIVE are worlds apart. “Progress has been due above all to modern-day hardware and software, which have been the focus of targeted optimisation over the years,” explains Mercedes-Benz development chief Weber. “Technical components in those days were much too big and much too expensive for standard use in automobiles. Also, they were not powerful or reliable enough. The situation today is a quite different one. Our modern systems can be installed in compact control units that, while exceptionally powerful, are still affordable. Because that’s the only way in which the maximum possible number of customers can benefit from autonomous vehicle functions – and that’s our ultimate goal.”

Mercedes-Benz assistance systems with partially automated driving functions in standard-production vehicles

  • DISTRONIC/DISTRONIC PLUS adaptive cruise control (1998/2005) Launched in 1998 and further developed in 2005 with improved radar sensors, adaptive cruise control automatically maintains a safe distance from the vehicle in front. It is capable of autonomous braking and acceleration.
  • PRE-SAFE Brake (2006) Automatically brakes the vehicle if there is a risk of a rear-end collision (autonomous partial/emergency braking).
  • Active Blind Spot Assist (2010) Detects whether there is a vehicle in the driver’s blind spot and, by means of one-sided application of the brakes, can reduce the risk of collision from a change of lane.
  • Active Lane Keeping Assist (2010) Networked with ESP. If the driver unintentionally crosses a continuous or discontinuous lane marking, Active Lane Keeping Assist can brake the wheels on the opposite side, thereby returning the vehicle to the original lane.
  • Active Parking Assist (2010) Uses electromechanical direct steering to navigate the vehicle into a parking space.
  • DISTRONIC Plus with Steering Assist and Stop&Go Pilot (2013) Helps the driver not only to maintain a desired distance from the vehicle in front, but also to stay in the centre of the lane. This makes it possible to autonomously follow vehicles in traffic tailbacks.
  • BAS PLUS Brake Assist with Cross-Traffic Assist (2013) Capable of detecting cross-traffic and pedestrians and boosting the braking power applied by the driver.

Source: Mercedes

Nokia to enter the Telematics market with ‘Here’ connected drive system

Espoo, Finland – HERE, a Nokia business, today announced a complete Connected Driving offer, the only end-to-end driving solution on the market today, which will help car makers and in-vehicle technology suppliers connect the car and the driver to the cloud.

The offering includes HERE Auto, HERE Auto Cloud, and HERE Auto Companion. In addition, HERE has radically improved its Traffic product, HERE Traffic, by building a new system to process data even faster and more accurately than before. The HERE Connected Driving offering will be demonstrated at the International Motor Show in Frankfurt, Germany starting on September 10.

Technology is rapidly transforming driving, with connectivity bringing the outside world to the car and the sensor revolution creating new possibilities for the automobile industry. People today demand that cars become integrated into their ecosystem of connected devices with the same level of innovation they see in their personal devices.

HERE Connected Driving offers a full range of automotive products and services that builds on our high-quality and fresh map to go beyond navigation. The customizable offering is a fully flexible framework that allows automakers to differentiate the driving experience. It will help them solve the problems that drivers face every day such as synching routes and other personal information across their car and devices and finding the right parking spot or closest gas station.

HERE Auto is the first embedded in-car navigation experience that delivers the right map at the right moment with and without a data connection. Drivers can get turn by turn voice guided navigation in 95 countries and 2D, 3D and satellite map views including street level imagery. In the future, car makers will be able to easily extend the HERE Auto experience using a software development kit (SDK) to create entertainment and other applications, such as in the areas of music and social networking. HERE Auto is already integrated in Continental’s next generation Open Infotainment Platform. HERE is also working with partners such as Magneti Marelli and others to bring HERE Auto to the market in the coming months.

HERE Auto Cloud provides drivers with always-on access to several dynamic services such as real-time traffic updates, helping drivers avoid congested areas, road closures or blockages that occur en route. Drivers can also get recommendations on places to eat, parking spots, information on where to charge an electric vehicle or where to find the most inexpensive fuel.

HERE Auto Companion, a customizable mobile and web application, keeps drivers connected outside of the car allowing them to synchronize their favorite places and routes across their devices so that they won’t need to re-enter their route when they get in the driver’s seat. Car makers can tap assets from the existing HERE suite such as walking navigation, public transit routes and even indoor venue maps to build custom mobile applications. Drivers could use the app to remotely find their car with their device using LiveSight augmented reality technology and check the car’s vital stats such as fuel levels and tire pressure.

HERE Traffic has been radically improved by “Halo,” our new engine that processes data quickly and accurately. Every month we’re collecting ever greater numbers of high-quality data, such as probe points and sensor information to deliver real-time information such as weather, traffic congestion, road construction and other factors that affect a drive. With our new Traffic product drivers get improved travel time estimates, so they can better plan their routes and quickly re-route on the go.

“By 2016, the majority of consumers in mature markets will consider in-vehicle web-based data access a key criterion in their automotive purchase,” said Thilo Koslowski, VP of Automotive at Gartner. “Successful connected vehicle solutions will add value to the connected driver’s digital lifestyle and enable integrated cross-device experiences relevant for people everyday.”

For more information about HERE Auto, please visit our blog: http://conversations.nokia.com/?p=134388

About HERE and Nokia
HERE, a Nokia business, offers the world’s best maps and location experiences across multiple screens and operating systems. HERE inspires a new generation of location services and devices helping more people to navigate their lives with ease and confidence. Built on more than 25 years of experience in cartography and drawing on more than 80,000 sources of data, HERE offers “Maps for Life” for more than 190 countries, voice guided navigation in 95 countries in more than 50 languages and live traffic information for 34 countries. To learn more about HERE, visit http://blog.here.com

Nokia is a global leader in mobile communications whose products have become an integral part of the lives of people around the world. Every day, more than 1.3 billion people use their Nokia to capture and share experiences, access information, find their way or simply to speak to one another. Nokia’s technological and design innovations have made its brand one of the most recognized in the world. For more information, visit http://www.nokia.com/about-nokia.

Source: Nokia

EU continues eCall trials

The EU continues to trial its eCall initiative across Europe before it is due to be fully functional in 2015. Tim Clayton looks at some of the opportunities the scheme will present

The European eCall initiative to bring faster help to motorists after accidents is looking increasingly like that rare beast: a successful Europe wide cooperation. Based on early trials, the European Commission estimated that eCall initiative could reduce emergency response times by 50 per cent in rural areas and 40 per cent in urban areas, saving countless lives as well as up to €14 billion in the EU 25 annually. Beyond this, it also represents a fantastic opportunity, creating completely new markets for telematics devices and services, and adding rocket fuel to the already fast-expanding M2M space.


The eCall program

The European Commission introduced eCall, a groundbreaking initiative intended to bring rapid and automatic assistance to motorists involved in an incident anywhere in the European Union (EU), several years ago. To meet the challenge of developing an interoperable Pan-European eCall program, ERTICO and its member organisations launched a pilot programme, known as HeERO. The scheme has developed interoperable eCall programmes in participating EU regions and it will synchronise systems across country and network borders. The HeERO pilot, which began in 2011 and is continuing through 2013, has already been successfully pre-deployed in several regions using 112 as the pan-European Public Safety Answering Points (PSAP) emergency call number.

This is probably the world’s biggest deployment of M2M technology, and though the participants in the trial and rollout, because of its scale and strategic importance, will be major blue chip businesses, it will bring wider opportunities. The aftermarket for retrofitting these devices will be huge – Cinterion estimates 100 million vehicles. In addition, the availability of a standard telematics platform in a significant proportion of European vehicles could drive a thriving market in third party applications. The European market alone is big enough to achieve this, but globally, the adoption of a single, standard eCall platform in Europe is likely to influence the adoption of a very similar platform in the US and Asia. Drivers can be offered other telematics services such as route advisories and traffic information, and the location of anything from the nearest service station to the nearest pizza parlour can be conveyed. With drivers’ permission, vehicle location data can be used to monitor traffic conditions even more accurately than at present. Whilst these services are already available on proprietary satnavs, a universal telematics platform in every European vehicle will take this market to a completely different level.

Finally, with the automotive supply chain absorbing millions of M2M modules, volumes on the components they contain will rise significantly, with a corresponding reduction in manufacturing cost. This will benefit every single application that relies on these technologies.


Module support

The first two of these opportunities require access to an eCall-compliant module, and Cinterion was first out with an eCall compliant M2M wireless platform.  The AGS2 is prepared to meet the comprehensive requirements of the European eCall initiative. Its eCall compliant AH3 module and development kit were used and became essential to achieving the successful upgrade of the PSAP system in the first full trial in Romania.

Simultaneous to Romania’s PSAP infrastructure upgrade, Civitronic also collaborated with Cinterion to design and launch the “ubiq eCall IVS Solution”, an In-Vehicle Solution (IVS) that provides the minimum set of data compliant to the EU norm as well as advanced fleet management services. Civitronic’s ubiq eCall IVS integrates Cinterion’s automotive-grade AH3 that provides cellular voice, data and Internet connectivity, GPS capabilities and eCall functionality from one component.

The Cinterion AH3 delivers reliable always-on communications across global 2G and 3G cellular networks for automatic eCall and emergency roadside assistance as well as onboard vehicle computing, Internet access, fleet management, integrated hands free calling and many more. The module’s SIM Access Profile enables easy integration of additional wireless devices, connection with smartphones and software applications, while analogue audio processing and advanced voice support provide superior hands-free capabilities. Its three antennas allow always-on communications with simultaneous voice, data and continuous GPS tracking for true multi-tasking. In short, it is ideal for the creation of a future-proof telematics solution.



Wireless M2M-powered public safety and eCall solutions provide peace of mind for consumers while better enabling emergency service personnel to respond to life’s dangerous moments – but the benefits it will bring are much wider. Anyone designing in-vehicle telematics should be looking at the opportunities it presents, and even beyond this major market, the sheer scale of eCall will create new opportunities.

Source: Land Mobile