TATA MOTORS, MICROSOFT | WILL ENHANCE IN-CAR CONNECTIVITY
Tata Motors and Microsoft recently announced a strategic agreement whereby the two companies will work to enhance connected and personalised driving experiences for the Indian automobile market. Tata Motors will leverage Microsoft's connected vehicle technologies that bring together artificial intelligence (AI), advanced machine learning, and the Internet of Things (IoT) capabilities on the global hyper-scale Azure cloud, to bridge the digital and physical worlds and create a personalised and safer driving experience for vehicle owners.
The first vehicle showcasing the vision for these enhanced driving experiences will be unveiled at the 87th Geneva International Motor Show on 7th March 2017. This will be via Tata Motors' indigenous user interface application and services suite utilising Microsoft enabled functionality like advanced navigation, predictive maintenance, telematics and remote monitoring features.
Using Microsoft technology will empower Tata Motors to provide connectivity features on mainstream, mass-market vehicles at affordable prices. Tata Motors said that it will continuously develop and launch new connected services and applications that make it easier for people to stay connected to work, entertainment and social networks, with greater safety and security, as well as services to maximise better use of newly found in-car free time.
In the future, Tata Motors said that its entire vehicle range will offer drivers and passengers a highly digital driving experience. Microsoft Azure cloud computing technologies will allow advanced navigation, predictive maintenance and vehicle centric services, remote monitoring of car features, external mobile experiences and over-the-air updates. These will be powered by Microsoft Azure cloud and services such as advanced analytics, machine learning, IoT and artificial intelligence.
Commenting on the partnership, Guenter Butschek, CEO & MD, Tata Motors, said, "With the aim to develop innovative and technologically leading products that excite customers, we at Tata Motors, understand the need for a connected ecosystem that can integrate into the digital lives of customers. We are using Microsoft's connected vehicle technologies to bring the digital lives of our customers into the cars they drive. Making the most of fast-paced innovation cycle that Microsoft has to offer, we will create a fully connected and seamless driving experience for our customers."
VW, MOBILEYE | DEVELOP AUTONOMOUS DRIVING NAVIGATION STANDARD
Volkswagen has signed an agreement with Mobileye, through which company is planning to implement a new navigation standard for autonomous driving from 2018. Future Volkswagen models will use Mobileye's camera-based map and localisation technology, Road Experience Management (REM). In future, both companies will jointly collect data and utilise it for a new generation of highly intelligent maps.
REM uses technologies for accident prevention and autonomous driving, using crowd-sourcing to generate real-time data for precise localisation and acquisition of high-definition track data. Future VW car models with front cameras will acquire lane markings and road information via optical sensor systems from Mobileye, and this information will flow in compressed format into a 'cloud' storage system. This fleet data will then be used for continuous improvement of high-definition navigation maps with highly precise localisation capability, which will serve as a foundation for autonomous driving and further ADAS development.
The future of autonomous driving depends on the ability to create and maintain precise high-definition maps and scale them at minimal cost, noted Professor Amnon Shashua, Co-Founder and CTO, Mobileye. He said the VW agreement is a turning point, which utilises crowd-sourcing technology to automatically generate high-definition maps and scale them cost-effectively. A much more important aspect is that the agreement provides a framework for industry-wide cooperation between automobile manufacturers to jointly produce the map contents that are needed for autonomous driving, added Prof Shashua.
Dr Frank Welsch, Member, Board of Management, Volkswagen Brand responsible for Development, said the agreement is the first-of-its-kind to merge the data of different global automobile manufacturers to create a single 'high-definition world map.' He added that this will form an industry-wide standard. Dr Welsch noted that millions of VW vehicles drive on the streets every day, and many of them are equipped with sensors to monitor the surroundings. "We can now utilise this swarm to obtain various environmental data related to traffic flow, road conditions and available parking places, and we can make these highly up-to-date data available in higher-level systems," he said.
MERCEDES-BENZ | PREPARES FOR E-MOBILITY
Daimler AG has announced that Mercedes-Benz is taking the next step in the modernisation of its Untertürkheim plant in Germany, which is its lead plant for powertrain production globally. Mercedes-Benz is working on creating the framework for further growth of conventional powertrains, while also preparing for the addition of electric powertrains in the near future. This company had earlier announced that its Sindelfingen plant will produce electric vehicles of the new product brand 'EQ.'
The Untertürkheim plant will have a new e-technology centre and will be developed into a competence centre for electric drives, and thus become the ramp-up factory for future technologies. The new e-technology centre is where prototypes for electric powertrains will be constructed, with the 'E-Technikum' becoming the ramp-up factory for key technologies, noted Mercedes-Benz. The plant will also take first steps in the assembly of electrified powertrain modules and start producing components for electric vehicles in the near future. The company noted that production of engines, transmissions and axles will remain an integral part of the Untertürkheim product range, while production of products such as fuel system components and turbine housings will be relocated, in order to make space for electric mobility components.
Markus Schäfer, Member, Divisional Board, Mercedes-Benz Cars, Production and Supply Chain Management, said the company is establishing ground-breaking production technologies in Untertürkheim and added that this is a further step to ensure Mercedes-Benz's competitiveness in the new age of electric mobility.
RENAULT-NISSAN, TRANSDEV | WORK ON DRIVERLESS FLEETS
The Renault-Nissan Alliance has announced an agreement with Transdev to jointly explore the development of mobility services with fleets of electric driverless vehicles for public and on-demand transportation. According to the agreement, the companies will collaborate to develop a comprehensive, modular transportation system to enable clients to book rides, and mobility operators to monitor and operate self-driving car fleets.
The research will initially include field tests in Paris-Saclay with Renault ZOEs electric vehicle and Transdev's on-demand dispatch, supervision and routing platform. The Renault-Nissan Alliance said it has been forming partnerships to accelerate the development of advanced connected-car technologies and mobility services. Meanwhile, Transdev is a pioneer in autonomous vehicle services and is engaged in a series of pilot autonomous vehicle deployments in multiple countries. Transdev currently operates the first commercial driverless service on EDF's campus in Civaux, France.
Ogi Redzic, Senior Vice-President, Connected Vehicles and Mobility Services, Renault-Nissan Alliance, said as the mobility services landscape keeps evolving, there is an opportunity to offer innovative, connected mobility solutions for evolving needs of customers. He added that this is fully aligned with the company's vision of a zero-emission, zero-fatalities society. Partnering with Transdev allows the alliance to share knowledge as leaders in electric vehicles, autonomous drive and connected-car technologies with one of the largest multi-modal mobility operators worldwide, noted Redzic.
RENESAS | WILL HELP BOOST EV EFFICIENCY
Renesas Electronics Corporation has announced the development of a dedicated motor control circuit technology for automotive microcontrollers (MCU), which would boost the energy efficiency of next-generation electric vehicles. The company noted that this technology reduces operation time to one-tenth or less than that of software implementation on the CPU, while providing functional safety. This newly-developed technology is an Intelligent Motor Timer System (IMTS), which is a dedicated circuit block that can be integrated into automotive MCUs for both EVs and hybrid EVs.
The IMTS performs field-oriented-control operations, which Renesas said are essential to EV motor control, in 0.8 microseconds (μs), making it the fastest at present. This is said to be less than one-tenth the operation processing time of software implementation on a CPU running at the same operating frequency. The circuit also enables functional safety support required for the automotive powertrain field, Renesas noted. It added that to increase the range of such motor-driven vehicles, it is necessary to boost the energy efficiency of motor control. This can be achieved by not only making mechanical improvements to the motors, but also to enhance the functions and performance of the electronic control units (ECUs) that control the motors. ECUs capable of supporting next-generation EVs require advanced functionality and complex control software and this results in a substantial increase in the operation processing load placed on the MCUs.