|From: Sam||7/30/2020 9:18:17 AM|
| Computing is the new horsepower, carmaker Audi says|
REUTERS 9:15 AM ET 7/30/2020
Symbol Last Price Change
|AAPL ||380.16 ||0 (0%)|
|QUOTES AS OF 04:00:00 PM ET 07/29/2020 |
* Team of 200 to work on new computer-driven vehicle system
* "Project Artemis" aims to better compete with Tesla
* New system will serve VW group, but be used at Audi first
By Edward Taylor and Jörn Poltz
INGOLSTADT, July 30 (Reuters) - Carmakers that once competed mainly over the power of their engines are now vying over a much less tangible sort of power as they race to develop automated vehicles - computing.
New Audi boss Markus Duesmann is assembling a team of about 200 engineers within parent company Volkswagen Group to develop a new computer-driven vehicle system, he told Reuters.
Dubbed "Project Artemis" after the Ancient Greek goddess of hunting, the plan is to chase down - and overtake - Tesla , widely viewed as the industry leader in software.
"When it comes to digitalisation we are lagging behind - for now," Duesmann said in an interview at Audi's headquarters in Ingolstadt, southern Germany.
With the advent of self-driving cars, vehicles need processors and software operating systems to analyse data from radar, lidar, and camera sensors to calculate driving reflexes so cars can navigate and avoid accidents on their own.
In the past, bigger cars with more powerful engines were automatically better. Now computing power and intelligence will be a key metric for defining what is premium, forcing Audi and Volkswagen to retool the way they design cars.
"Technical development of vehicles is no longer organised according to a vehicle's size, but by the car's electrical and electronic architecture," Duesmann said, explaining that premium and value models would now differentiate themselves according to their computing power and sensor levels.
To build the new system, Duesmann is assembling a "results oriented" engineering team to work on accelerating development of a scalable vehicle platform.
"(Project) Artemis will be smaller than a Formula One team. I am thinking around 200 staff," he said.
"To develop a new car with so many new features in this period until 2024 is so demanding that it is probably without precedent. That's why we have decided to work with a separate unit," said Duesmann, who is also head of research at Volkswagen Group.
The idea is that an agile development group will be less encumbered by the bureaucracy within Volkswagen Group, which owns brands including Bugatti, Bentley, Porsche, Skoda, and Lamborghini, as well as Audi and VW.
VW has more than 10,000 employees working in research and development at the company's Wolfsburg headquarters alone.
Artemis will be led by Alexander Hitzinger, who was responsible for autonomous driving at Volkswagen and built up the Porsche racing team that won Le Mans endurance race in 2015, 2016, 2017. Hitzinger also worked at Apple(AAPL), where he set up and managed product development for autonomous vehicles.
The Artemis team will harness the engineering know-how within Volkswagen Group, but also have the authority to use outside partners.
"If we gain speed with a supplier or with a software company, we will consider it. Speed is extremely important," Duesmann said. China will also play a role, Duesmann added, declining to elaborate.
Project Artemis will sit alongside Volkswagen Group's Car.Software organisation, also based in Ingolstadt.
"They need each other," Duesmann said, adding many of Artemis's staff would remain embedded within Volkswagen Group brands, but receive instructions from Ingolstadt.
"The result will be a common concept which is scalable for all of us," Duesmann said. "The first model will be an Audi." (Reporting by Edward Taylor and Joern Poltz in Ingolstadt, Germany and Paul Lienert in Detroit; Editing by Mark Potter)
|RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last Read|
|From: Eric||8/5/2020 10:28:34 AM|
| Israel’s RFISee unveils long-range high resolution 4D imaging radar on a chip|
05 August 2020
Israel-based RFISee, a developer of affordable imaging radars for the automotive industry, is unveiling the first Phased Array 4D imaging radar on a chip. The high-resolution, low-cost radar sensor will generate a real-time 3D location and velocity map of a car’s surrounding objects.
RFISee’s all-weather radar has proven its ability to detect cars from 500 meters and pedestrians from 200 meters, with an angular resolution greater than 1 degree. The company’s engineers have adapted Phased Array antenna technology, used in advanced military systems including the F-35 fighter jet and in air defense systems, while at the same time reducing the price to the current level of automotive sensors. Prototypes of RFISee’s radar are under evaluation by top automotive OEMs and Tier-1s, the company said.
Unlike many traditional and new types of radar, RFISee’s patented 4D imaging radar uses a powerful focused beam based on proprietary Phased Array radar technology. The focused beam created by dozens of transmitters rapidly scans the field of view. The receivers ensure a much-improved radar image, a better signal to noise ratio, and a detection range of obstacles such as cars and pedestrians that is six times broader when compared to existing radars. The competitive edge of RFISee’s radar prototype has already been proven in extensive testing.
The radar’s capabilities are designed to prevent the types of accidents with which many other existing radar systems are unable to deal. One example is the 1 June accident involving an autopilot-driven vehicle in Taiwan. In that accident, a car crashed directly into a large truck on its side, straddling two lanes of a highway. RFISee’s radar can detect trucks and other vehicles at a distance of hundreds of meters, allowing the driver to take over control or automatically stop and prevent this type of accident.
The company’s unique radar technology can also prove to be useful in other accident prevention scenarios by taking advantage of its numerous capabilities for dealing with bi-directional traffic, detection of multiple pedestrians, recognizing bike riders on the shoulder of the road, Automatic Emergency Braking for trucks and Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) on highways.
RFISee has raised $2.75 million from Clear Future, Drive, NextGear and the Israel Innovation Authority. The company is planning a Series A funding round that will be earmarked for completing the development of its radar product line, providing samples to OEMs and Tier-1 suppliers in late 2021, and establishing commercial partnerships.
The market that RFISee is targeting is expected to grow rapidly in the years to come. According to Yole Research, the global automotive radar market will reach $8.6 billion in 2025, which represents a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of around 16% between 2015 and 2025.
Posted on 05 August 2020 in Autonomous driving, Driver Assistance Systems, Sensors
|RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last Read|
|From: Sam||8/14/2020 12:17:58 PM|
|Norwegian Taxis, Wirelessly Charging While They Wait for a Fare|
Electric Jaguars in Oslo, using tech from a former NASA architect, will soon be able to recharge on special pads embedded under the road.
By Jamie Lincoln Kitman
Aug. 13, 2020
Starting next year, two dozen specially outfitted electric Jaguar taxis will roam the streets of the very green capital of Norway. And when they are idling at special taxi lines, they will be able to be recharged from the ground up.
This new program in Oslo would be the world’s first, and it brings together a British carmaker, a leading Nordic charge-point company and a former NASA architect who grew up in the Marlboro public housing project near Coney Island.
“In the building where a sniper shot from the roof in ‘The French Connection,’” said the NASA alumnus, Andrew Daga, referring to the 1971 police drama with a memorable car chase.
Today Mr. Daga is the chief executive of Momentum Dynamics in Malvern, Pa. The company, which he co-founded in 2009 with a focus on advanced electric vehicle charging, has been tapped to supply components that, beginning in the first quarter of 2021, will power 25 electric Jaguar I-Pace models for Cabonline/NorgesTaxi in Oslo. Inductive charge pads and associated equipment supplied by Momentum will be placed upon and beneath road surfaces at selected taxi queues, enabling fast, hands-off charging for the I-Pace.
continues at nytimes.com
|RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last Read|
|From: Eric||8/27/2020 9:59:26 AM|
| Boeing & Aerospace Business Technology |
SpaceX, Tesla veterans focus on self-flying planes for cargo
Aug. 26, 2020 at 9:06 am Updated Aug. 26, 2020 at 6:05 pm
In June, with approval from the Federal Aviation Administration, Reliable Robotics demonstrated a fully automated remote landing of a Cessna 208 Caravan turboprop owned by FedEx.(Business Wire)
Silicon Valley has been hard at work on the vexing challenge of autonomous cars. Now veterans of SpaceX and Tesla are announcing what they’ve been up to: a new startup working on self-flying planes for cargo.
Reliable Robotics isn’t trying to invent a new kind of aircraft. The idea is to bring autonomous capability to existing planes, starting with smaller aircraft that ferry cargo. In June, with approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Reliable Robotics demonstrated a fully automated remote landing of a Cessna 208 Caravan turboprop owned by FedEx.
Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Robert Rose led flight software at Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies, then led the early Autopilot program at Tesla before joining Google. He co-founded Reliable Robotics in 2017 with Juerg Frefal, who worked at SpaceX for almost a decade.
“When I first started taking flying lessons myself, my first thought was, why isn’t this automated?” Rose said. “I worked on autonomous rockets and spacecraft and cars. Aviation is so much more well understood compared to driving.”
Based in Mountain View, California, the 35-person startup is focused on integrating automation into existing systems, starting with a small cargo aircraft. The plane flies on its own, but a pilot helps manage extreme weather or air traffic control from a control center on the ground.
Developers of automated flying technology envision everything from small drones delivering packages to air taxis ferrying human passengers across cities. While the visions are bold, the ones that pan out will take years to materialize.
“There are a lot of companies trying to get into this space, and it’s going to take time,” said Phil Finnegan, director of corporate analysis at Teal Group. “But a market will develop.” FAA regulators are being cautious, he said, “and there’s a lot of hurdles that need to be surmounted before you can have widespread cargo deliveries. Carrying people is years out.”
Reliable has been in discussions with FedEx, which owns the Cessna used during recent test flights. The company is working with the FAA to get its system certified for use in civilian airspace and has raised $33.5 million in two rounds of funding led by Lightspeed Ventures and Eclipse Ventures, respectively.
“I think we’ll see self-flying aircraft before we see massive adoption of self-driving cars,” said Greg Reichow, a partner at Eclipse Ventures who serves on Reliable Robotics’ board. “It’s a more achievable problem. When you are driving a car on the ground it has to deal with all of the variables of the streets: construction and kids and soccer balls and other cars. The air is more controlled: there’s controlled air space, air traffic control, and one regulatory agency in the FAA.
Reichow, who was the vice president of manufacturing at Tesla before becoming a venture capitalist, says that Eclipse wanted to invest in autonomous aircraft and was looking for a strong team that had deep experience in building autonomous aerospace systems — and in actually shipping real products.
“Reliable has a very thoughtful, pragmatic approach that is very different from a lot of companies that are new grads wanting to build an air taxi,” Reichow said. “The world of air cargo is the place to start.”
|RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last Read|
|From: Sam||8/29/2020 8:03:29 AM|
|Little-known EV and lidar firms are raising billions in Tesla’s shadow |
Companies are using the latest Wall Street fad, known as a SPAC, to go public. Timothy B. Lee - 8/26/2020, 10:55 AM
Lidar startup Luminar is going public, the company announced on Monday. Instead of going with a traditional IPO, Luminar is jumping on the latest Wall Street fad: merging with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC). Merging with a SPAC allows a startup to go public more quickly, with less paperwork and more certainty about the sale price. The deal gives Luminar, which only expects to sell about 100 lidar sensors this year, a post-money valuation of $3.4 billion.
It's the latest in a string of companies connected to the electric and self-driving car revolutions that have gone public using a SPAC. Most have found strong interest from investors.
In March, electric truck startup Nikola announced that it would go public with help from a SPAC. By the time the merger concluded three months later, Nikola's value had shot up seven-fold. It has since settled down to four times the initial sale value. That values Nikola—a company that has yet to deliver a single vehicle to customers—at $14 billion, about half the value of Ford.
The hydrogen fuel strategy behind Nikola’s truck dream
Nikola's success triggered something of a gold rush among little-known electric vehicle makers. Luminar and another lidar company, Velodyne, have now joined the SPAC bonanza.
It's impossible to be sure what drives market prices. But one factor has undoubtedly been the rapid rise of Tesla's stock. Since the start of the year, Tesla's share price has more than quadrupled, making it the world's most valuable automaker. Investors seem to be looking around for the "next Tesla." That has made it easier for any company with a plausible claim to that title—or even just a Tesla-adjacent business model—to raise money.
An EV gold rush
Last month, after a reported bidding war among SPACs, electric vehicle maker Fisker announced a SPAC deal that valued the company at $2.9 billion. The value of the SPAC's stock—itself a proxy for Fisker—is up more than 30 percent since the announcement, a sign investors considered it a good investment.
Earlier this month, a little-known electric truck maker called Lordstown Motors announced a SPAC deal that valued the company at $1.6 billion. The SPAC's stock has since risen by 50 percent.
Last week, electric vehicle startup Canoo jumped on the SPAC bandwagon with a deal valuing the company at $2.4 billion. This deal has gotten a lukewarm reception from the market, with the SPAC's share price little changed since the merger was announced.
Tesla rival Rivian raises $2.5 billion to make electric trucks and SUVs
Aside from Nikola, none of these companies have completed their mergers. Theoretically, the deals could still fall apart before closing.
One of Tesla's most formidable EV rivals, Rivian, has not yet joined the SPAC bandwagon. But it has been raking in cash the old-fashioned way, with a $2.5 billion fundraising round last month.
While investors may be thinking of these companies as possible "next Teslas," they all have a long way to go. Tesla has been selling cars for over a decade. It has demonstrated that it can sell hundreds of thousands of vehicles a year and generate a modest profit in the process. By contrast, none of these would-be Tesla killers has started delivering its products to customers. A lot could still go wrong on their path to commercialization. Investing in them is a big risk.
Lidar makers join the SPAC party Last month, lidar company Velodyne announced a SPAC merger valuing the company at $1.8 billion.
Velodyne is not a startup. Started as an audio equipment manufacturer decades ago, Velodyne has been selling lidar ever since founder David Hall invented modern lidar sensors in 2005. Aside from Tesla, most companies working on self-driving technology consider lidar sensors to be essential.
Velodyne continues to be the lidar industry leader. Until recently, Velodyne was able to charge as much as $75,000 for its best sensors, creating a juicy opportunity for rivals. Its dominance is threatened by a number of startups that are trying to build better, cheaper lidar sensors.
Volvo plans cars with lidar and “eyes off” highway driving by 2022
One of those rivals is Luminar. While Velodyne's classic lidar design mounts 64 (or, more recently, 128) lasers on a spinning gimbal, providing 360-degree coverage, Luminar sells a fixed sensor with a single laser that scans the scene in front of the vehicle.
Luminar believes it can get the cost of its sensor down below $1,000, making it viable for the mainstream automotive market. Luminar scored a major coup back in May when it announced a contract to supply lidar to Volvo beginning in 2022. It was the first time an automaker had committed to purchasing high-end lidar sensors for use in production vehicles.
Unsurprisingly, Luminar has rosy predictions for its own future. Luminar expects to sell only around 100 units in 2020. But Luminar hopes to ink more deals with automakers in the next couple of years and thereby ramp up sales to 600,000 units by 2025.
Ironically, surging investor interest in electric vehicle and lidar companies comes in the wake of cooling venture capital interest in the closely related autonomous vehicle sector. Zoox, a startup widely respected for the quality of its self-driving software, was recently forced to sell to Amazon at a fire-sale price because it couldn't raise another round of funding.
Zoox was unusual among self-driving vehicle companies because it was planning to design its own electric vehicle from scratch. If it could have held out for a few more months, it might have been able to jump on the SPAC gravy train.
|RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last ReadRead Replies (1)|
|From: Sam||9/13/2020 11:17:42 AM|
|Germany aiming to be the first country to put driverless cars on the streets|
13 September 2020, by William Nehra
German politicians came together with vehicle industry bosses and trade union leaders to discuss the country’s beleaguered automotive industry on Tuesday. During the meeting, the participants agreed that Germany should begin to pioneer the use of self-driving cars.
No drivers needed
On Tuesday, Chancellor Angela Merkel hosted a video conference with federal ministers, representatives from the automotive industry, trade union leaders and the heads from “car states,” to discuss the digitisation of transport. At the end of the meeting, there was a general agreement that Germany should take a “leading role in autonomous driving.”
During the meeting, a target was set for self-driving cars to be used regularly in Germany by 2022. There were also discussions regarding the creation of a “mobility data room,” a data centre which would collect, process and store the data needed for autonomous vehicles.
Following the meeting, a new law is set to be drafted that will help make Germany "the first country in the world to permit driverless vehicles in regular operation as well as in the entire country.”
continues at iamexpat.de
Seems pretty ambitious to me! 2022 is almost around the corner!
|RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last ReadRead Replies (1)|
|From: Sam||9/14/2020 9:29:27 AM|
|Lidar Is Finally Becoming a Real Business|
The success of lidar companies was unclear until this summer, when three leading makers offered glimpses of their finances.
TIMOTHY B. LEE, ARS TECHNICA
09.11.2020 08:00 AM
FOR YEARS, THE lidar business has had a lot of hype but not a lot of hard numbers. Dozens of lidar startups have touted their impressive technology, but until recently it wasn't clear who, if anyone, was actually gaining traction with customers.
That's starting to change. This summer, three leading lidar makers have done major fundraising rounds that included releasing public data on their financial performance.
The latest lidar maker to release financial data is Ouster, which announced a $42 million round in a Tuesday blog post. That post also revealed a striking statistic: The company says it now has 800 customers.
That's interesting because we can compare it fairly directly to two other prominent lidar companies that have released data in recent months. Velodyne, which has been considered the industry leader for the past decade, revealed in July that it had 300 customers.
The lidar startup Luminar hasn't revealed its number of customers, but it disclosed two other figures in August: The company has 50 commercial partners and expects to sell roughly 100 lidar sensors in 2020.
By the metric of total customers, then, Ouster seems to be well ahead of two of its better-known rivals. But saying that Ouster has become the industry leader would be too simplistic. In reality, the three companies are each pursuing different segments of the market.
At the high end of the lidar market are powerful sensors that sell for tens of thousands of dollars each. Self-driving-vehicle companies buy these units for their prototype vehicles. Because these companies are well-funded and are making only a few prototype vehicles, they're willing to pay piles of money to get the most powerful sensors available. This market has traditionally been dominated by Velodyne, which has charged as much as $75,000 for a single sensor.
At the opposite end of the spectrum are lidar sensors intended for mass-market automotive applications. Lidar sensors for this market generally need to stay under $1,000 to be viable.
The pioneer here was a little-known company called Ibeo, which partnered with auto supplier Valeo to provide lidar sensors for the 2018 Audi A8. The sensor was primitive, with only four vertical "lines" of resolution. But it was the best lidar Audi could afford given the financial constraints of the consumer car business.
This is the market Luminar is gunning for. Luminar's lidar is much more powerful than the sensor in those early Audis, and the company believes it can get the cost below $1,000 at scale. Back in May, Luminar announced a deal with Volvo to incorporate its lidars into vehicles beginning in 2022. It's the first deal to put high-performance lidar into consumer vehicles. Luminar hopes it will be an inspiration for other automakers.
Ouster makes spinning lidar that looks a lot like Velodyne's high-end sensors. But inside, Ouster uses solid-state chip technology to pack all of its lasers—16 to 128 of them, depending on the product—on a single chip. Ouster's sensors are much simpler than Velodyne's classic design, which involved packaging together 16 to 128 individual lasers and 16 to 128 individual sensors.
The resulting combination of strong performance and relatively low cost has opened new markets for lidar sensors. Ouster's latest generation of 32-laser sensors start at $6,000. That's way too expensive for mass-market automotive use, but it's much less than Velodyne charged for comparable sensors before Ouster came along.
Earlier this year, I talked to John Williams, chief technology officer at Kudan, which sells software to help robots track their own location (a problem known as SLAM in the robotics world). Williams said plenty of companies are building custom robots for niche applications in mines, warehouses, and other industrial environments.
Lidar sensors have obvious value for this kind of application. But before Ouster came along, high-quality lidar was simply too expensive.
"The fact that you can get a 64-channel spinning lidar for $12,000 was unheard of," Williams told me. While Ouster's lidars were "not quite as good as Velodyne" in his opinion, he argued that the company was "the up-and-comer in terms of disrupting the market."
So that may explain Ouster's 800 customers: Companies shipping robots to real customers can't afford to blow tens of thousands of dollars on a lidar sensor. But in many cases, their industrial customers are willing to spend a few thousands dollars for products that better understand the world around them.
Ouster also offers a compelling value proposition to university researchers. Researchers need high performance, but they don't have unlimited budgets. There are probably a lot more research labs with uses for a lidar sensor than there are self-driving projects.
This "broad middle" market is growing fast. Ouster says its third-quarter sales are already more than three times as high as they were in the third quarter of 2019. And Q3 2020 isn't over yet.
A big question for the next few years will be whether falling prices and improving performance will bring these companies into more direct competition.
The company with the most to lose is Velodyne, which has dominated the market for a decade but now faces growing competition from low-cost rivals—especially Ouster. History has shown that it's difficult for a company with a high-performance, high-cost product to deal effectively with a challenge from a cheaper, disruptive rival. It may prove much easier for Ouster to gradually improve its sensors than for Velodyne to slash its prices enough to compete with cheaper rivals.
In discussions with Ars, Ouster CEO Angus Pacala has argued that Ouster will benefit from progress in the broader semiconductor industry. If all goes well, Ouster's solid-state lasers and sensors will continue to get cheaper and more powerful in much the same way that computer chips have over the last 50 years.
Velodyne is certainly trying to meet the threat here. For example, the company has a product called the Velarray that's designed to be cheap enough for the automotive market. Whether Velodyne's lower-cost products have been gaining traction is not clear.
Meanwhile, Ouster and Luminar have very different go-to-market strategies. Luminar has focused on scoring big, multiyear deals with major automotive customers. Ouster has eschewed that market, focusing on selling lidar units a few at a time to a wide range of individual customers.
If Luminar is able to deliver on its Volvo contract and score similar deals with other carmakers, that could provide enough volume to achieve unrivaled economies of scale. Luminar might then be able to undersell higher-price rivals like Ouster and become the overall market leader.
Supplying equipment to automakers, on the other hand, is a notoriously cutthroat, low-margin business. If Luminar can't sign up other automakers, it could find itself yoked to a demanding but not especially lucrative customer.
Lidar is not just a three-horse race, of course. Velodyne is facing competition from Chinese rivals like Hesai and Robosense. Velodyne sued both companies last year for patent infringement.
Luminar, meanwhile, faces formidable competitors in the automotive market, including tier-one auto supplier Bosch. And there are a number of other independent lidar companies that could become significant players in the future.
This story originally appeared on Ars Technica.
|RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last Read|
|To: Sam who wrote (375)||9/14/2020 9:51:36 AM|
|Given the German bureaucracy, I very much doubt Germany becoming the first country to allow driverless vehicles. China is a much more likely contender. |
|RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last Read|