News This Week: Autonomous Vehicles, Connected Vehicles, Clean Mobility, Research and India

These are some important developments that took place this week in the field of Autonomous Vehicles, Connected Vehicles, Micromobility, and Clean Mobility.

Autonomy: ADAS, Autonomous Vehicles

Zoox unveils Purpose-Built Robotaxi

Zoox recently revealed its first fully functional, electric, autonomous vehicle that is designed for complex urban environments. The purpose-built, autonomous vehicle features no steering wheel, and carriage seating, which consists of two rows of seats that face each other.

Designed for dense, urban environments, the robotaxi is capable of operating up to 75 miles per hour. It also offers bidirectional driving capabilities and four-wheel steering, which enables maneuvering through compact spaces and changing directions without the need to reverse.

The vehicle also features a 133 kWh battery, one of the largest available in electric vehicles today, allowing it to operate for up to 16 continuous hours on a single charge.

Hyundai Motor Group to acquire controlling interest in Boston Dynamics

Hyundai Motor Group and SoftBank Group have agreed on main terms of the transaction pursuant to which Hyundai Motor Group will acquire a controlling interest in Boston Dynamics in a deal that values the mobile robot firm at $1.1 billion.

Under the agreement, Hyundai will hold an approximately 80% stake in Boston Dynamics and SoftBank, through one of its affiliates, will retain an approximately 20% stake in Boston Dynamics after the closing of the transaction. The companies aim to create robotics value chain ranging from robot component manufacturing to smart logistics solutions.

Motional and Lyft to deploy a fully-driverless, multimarket rideshare service

Motional, a driverless technology company, and Lyft plan to launch a multimarket robotaxi service in major US cities, beginning in 2023.  Motional’s next generation, fully-driverless vehicles will be integrated, operationalized, and deployed on the Lyft network.

This agreement marks one of the largest robotaxi deployment partnership for a major ridesharing network, said Motional in a Press Release.  It follows an ongoing and successful three-year partnership, in which Motional and Lyft operate the world’s longest-standing commercial robotaxi service in Las Vegas.

Walmart and Gatik Go Driverless in Arkansas

Walmart has been working on an autonomous vehicle pilot with Gatik to move customer orders on a two-mile route between a dark and a Neighborhood Market in Bentonville, Arkansas. Since then, the company has safely driven more than 70,000 operational miles in autonomous mode with a safety driver.

Taking the next step forward, the companies announced that Gatik’s multi-temperature Autonomous Box Trucks will operate this route driverless in the state of Arkansas. This achievement marks a new milestone that signifies the first ever driverless operation carried out on the supply chain middle mile for both Gatik and Walmart.

The companies also plan incorporating driverless Box Trucks into the Bentonville operation next year

Partnership between Foresight Partners and University of Michigan’s TechLab

Foresight Autonomous Holdings is  joining hands with the University of Michigan’s TechLab at Mcity 2021 startup cohort, managed by the Center for Entrepreneurship, to further develop its automotive vision system designed for Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) and autonomous vehicles.  

Foresight will participate in the one-year program with a team of students from technical departments at the University of Michigan focused on the development, demonstration, and deployment of key autonomous vehicle technologies. The team will be mentored by Foresight’s Head of Algorithm and leading team members.

By joining the program, Foresight will have access to a test facility in the heart of the largest automotive hub in the United States, and will be able to run short-cycle demonstrations to local prospects. Mcity’s test facility mimics real communities and roadways and is focused on connected and automated testing.

Nuro receives permit to deploy autonomous vehicles on public streets in California

Nuro has received the permit to deploy autonomous vehicles on public streets from the California Department of Motor Vehicles. This permit allows the company’s vehicles to operate commercially on California roads in two counties.

Nuro has said that it will soon announce its first deployment in California with an established partner. The service will start with a fleet of Prius vehicles in fully autonomous mode, followed by custom-designed electric R2 vehicles.

Nuro has also recently acquired autonomous trucking startup Ike. It is a startup founded by veterans of Apple, Google and Uber Advanced Technologies.

Toyota e-Palette for Autono-MaaS applications

Toyota has announced an operations management system to support the providing of services that will enable practical use of the e-Palette, a battery-electric vehicle for autonomous mobility as a service (Autono-MaaS) applications that will realize future mobility services.

In collaboration with a range of partners, it is also planning to operate the vehicles in Woven City, a fully connected prototype city, while targeting commercial use in multiple areas and regions in the early 2020s.

The operations management system for e-Palette vehicles is based on the Toyota Production System (TPS) ideology. This system will be provided as new functions on Toyota’s Mobility Services Platform (MSPF) and will consist of the Autonomous Mobility Management System (AMMS), for connecting to vehicles and the e-Palette Task Assignment Platform (e-TAP) for connecting to people.

Velodyne Lidar in Motional driverless vehicles

Velodyne Lidar has entered into a multi-year sales agreement for Alpha Prime sensors with Motional, a driverless technology company. Velodyne will be the exclusive provider of long-range, surround view lidar sensors for Motional’s SAE Level 4 driverless vehicles.

Velodyne’s Alpha Prime is a next generation lidar sensor that utilizes Velodyne’s patented 360-degree surround view perception technology to support autonomous mobility. According to the company, it supports autonomous operation across a broad range of road settings, including urban and highway environments.

Velodyne Lidar to provide long-range, surround view lidar sensors to May Mobility

Velodyne Lidar has announced a sales agreement for Alpha Prime sensors with May Mobility, a company known for operating autonomous vehicle shuttles. May Mobility selected Velodyne as a provider of long-range, surround view lidar sensors for its entire growing fleet of self-driving shuttles. Velodyne’s Alpha Prime is a next generation lidar sensor that utilizes Velodyne’s patented 360-degree surround view perception technology to support safe, high-performance autonomous mobility.

Spin launches on-vehicle Artificial Intelligence (AI) platform

Spin, the micromobility unit of Ford Motor Company, has announced an exclusive partnership to incorporate Drover AI’s PathPilot technology into the next generation of its Spin Insight e-scooter monitoring.

Drover AI’s computer vision and machine learning platform, equips Spin’s vehicles with a camera, an array of sensors, and on-board computing power. According to the company, by leveraging Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools, Drover’s technology is highly adaptive and easily scaled to new environments, allowing an e-scooter to understand its surroundings in real time and assist riders in making safe riding decisions.

Akin to advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) that use on-board sensors to help automobile drivers park, brake, and stay in their lanes, Spin Insight Level 2 has the ability to combine the latest in sensor and artificial intelligence technologies to enable local regulation compliance enforcement and create a safer experience for riders and pedestrians. Spin currently operates electric scooters in many cities and universities nationwide in the U.S. and Europe.

Renesas R-Car V3U ASIL D System on Chip

Renesas Electronics Corporation, a supplier of advanced semiconductor solutions, unveiled the R-Car V3U – an ASIL D system on chip (SoC) for advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and automated driving (AD) systems. It claims to delivera 60 TOPS with low power consumption for deep learning processing and up to 96,000 DMIPS. The R-Car V3U is built for the performance, safety, and scalability (up and down) demands of ADAS and AD architectures driving next-generation autonomous vehicles.

The new R-Car V3U is the first SoC using the R-Car Gen 4 architecture within the open and flexible Renesas autonomy platform for ADAS and AD. With the launch of R-Car V3U, the platform is now ready to offer complete scalability from entry-level NCAP applications up to highly automated driving systems.

Clean Mobility: E Mobility, Hydrogen Fuel

Volkswagen Group’s mobile charging robot

Volkswagen Group Components recently gave a first glimpse of the prototypes of its mobile charging robot. This is one of the charging concepts that the group hopes will expand the charging infrastructure over the next few years.

The charging robot – started via an app or Car-to-X communication – operates totally autonomously. It independently steers the vehicle to be charged and communicates with it: from opening the charging socket flap to connecting the plug and decoupling it. The entire charging process takes place without any human involvement whatsoever. To charge several vehicles at the same time, the mobile robot moves a trailer, essentially a mobile energy storage unit, to the vehicle, connects it up and then uses this energy storage unit to charge the battery of the electric vehicle.

The energy storage unit stays with the vehicle during the charging process. In the meantime, the robot charges other electric vehicles. Once the charging service has ended, the robot independently collects the mobile energy storage unit and takes it back to the central charging station.

Enel X expands its charging network

Enel X has achieved a key milestone in terms of supporting the mass market spread of e-Mobility by reaching more than 90,000 charging points available through JuicePass. This substantially increases service coverage as well as DC charging points accessible to its end users compared to one year ago.

Enel X has more than 12,500 charging points installed throughout Europe while the accessible network has been further enabled through interoperability via Hubject’s e-mobility platform. Interoperability allows Enel X JuicePass app users to charge their EVs throughout Europe with a single sign-on, without entering into new contracts with different providers, on a network that now includes more than 90,000 public charging points, including alternating current (AC) charging up to 43kW, direct current (DC) fast charging up to 50kW, and High Power Charging (above 100kW) technologies.

LG and Magna form JV focused on Powertrain Electrification Market

LG Electronics and Magna have announced a joint venture (JV) to manufacture e-motors, inverters and on board chargers and, for certain automakers, related e-drive systems to support the growing global shift toward vehicle electrification.

The new company, tentatively called LG Magna e-Powertrain, marries Magna’s strength in electric powertrain systems and automotive manufacturing with LG’s expertise in component development for e-motors and inverters, accelerating both partners’ growth in the electric powertrain market.

EIB invests €50 million in Spain to deploy over 470 charging stations

EIB has invested €50 million in Wenea to deploy over 470 charging stations for electric vehicles in Spain. The fast and ultra-fast charging stations will be located along Spanish motorways, including those of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T).

The EIB financing of €50 million will enable the company to carry out an investment of around €100 million to increase long distance mobility in Spain. The project will contribute to reducing CO2 emissions by 31 000 tonnes a year.

Canoo unveils Fully-Electric Multi-Purpose Delivery Vehicle

Canoo, a Los Angeles-based company known for electric vehicles, bold innovations in design and a unique business model, has created a multi-purpose delivery vehicle.

The MPV is designed, according to the company, from the inside out, with the ergonomics of the driver in mind and with attention to detail to help them be happier and more productive at work. The vehicle is also claimed to be affordable and with greater cargo capacity than the current electric delivery offerings in its class.

The multi-purpose delivery vehicle will be built on Canoo’s proprietary EV platform. The vehicle will be fully connected with data reporting capabilities and will feature Level 2.5 autonomy and over-the-air software updates. The vehicle will also support cutting-edge software-as-a-service (SaaS) to help fleets improve

The two vehicle variants, multi-purpose delivery vehicle 1 (MPDV1) and multi-purpose delivery vehicle 2 (MPDV2), are expected to offer three battery sizes—80, 60 and 40 kilowatt-hours (kWh)—with the 80-kWh size featuring a DC Fast Charging time of 28 minutes from 20% to 80% charge.

NewMotion is FCA’s charging partner

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and NewMotion, a Europe based smart charging solutions provider, have announced a new partnership to support FCA’s business customers’ transition to electric mobility.

FCA’s business customers will receive access to NewMotion’s full charging ecosystem – from smart charging infrastructure to back office services to emergency customer care – helping them to achieve a seamless transition to EVs by making charging as easy as possible.

The partnership will be rolled out across 12 countries, starting with France, Germany and the UK, followed by the Netherlands, BeLux, Switzerland, Austria and the Nordic countries.

H2Accelerate – new collaboration for zero emission hydrogen trucking

Daimler Truck AG, IVECO, OMV, Shell and the Volvo Group have joined forces to create H2Accelerate and hence work together to help create the conditions for the mass-market roll-out of hydrogen trucks in Europe.

H2Accelerate participants will work together to:

  • seek public support to fund early pre-commercial projects to activate the market on the path towards a mass market roll-out;
  • communicate around the technical and commercial viability of hydrogen fuelled trucking at scale; and
  • hold discussions with policy makers and regulators to encourage policies which can support a sustainable and speedy activation of the zero emissions long haul trucking market. 

H2Accelerate participants believe that synchronized investments across the sector during the 2020s will create the conditions for the mass market roll-out of hydrogen fuelled heavy duty transportation which is required to meet the European ambition of net zero emissions by 2050.


Connectivity: Connected vehicles, Shared Vehicles

Gartner Predicts In-Vehicle Payments Will Total $1 Billion by 2023

By 2023, transaction payments made through a vehicle will total $1 billion, up from less than $100 million in 2020, according to Gartner, Inc. In addition to making in-vehicle payments through a cloud platform that connects to the car, car drivers will be able to use a third-party app mirrored on the screen from their phones or through a smart wallet based on blockchain, which lets drivers earn cryptocurrency which can be used for in-car purchases, or through a digital wallet built into the car. The latter could create the capability of the vehicle to not only make payments but accept payments. Gartner also predicts that by 2025, the automotive retail landscape will be disrupted, with 20% of all new cars sold entirely online

Faraday Future agreement with Philips

Faraday Future has signed a joint development agreement with Philips Intellectual Property & Standards to collaborate and showcase vehicle features that use a select set of Philips technologies. Philips’ health technology and software add significant differentiators to FF’s product vision and its upcoming FF 91 and FF 81 luxury electric vehicles.

The collaboration represents a commitment between both companies to explore the feasibility of applying Philips technologies for automotive use cases related to users’ wellness monitoring.

Next Generation Mercedes me connect app

Mercedes-Benz USA introduced the next-generation Mercedes me connect app, available in app stores now, for Model Year 2019 and newer Mercedes-Benz, Mercedes-AMG and Mercedes-Maybach vehicles.

The Mercedes me connect app offers many connected-car features providing customers the added convenience and flexibility of remote vehicle management, including Remote Engine Start, Remote Door Lock and Unlock, and Vehicle Status. This is paired with additional vehicle data such as mileage, fuel level, tire pressure and fluid levels, providing customers with the peace of mind knowing they have everything needed for their next drive.

Chery Automobile and Huawei collaborate on Smart Car

Chery Automobile and Huawei Technologies entered into an agreement for in-depth cooperation in fields such as cloud computing, big data and smart car solutions, to promote the business development of both sides.

Under the agreement, the two sides will carry out all-round cooperation in fields such as electrical and electronic architectures of smart cars, intelligent connection, intelligent cockpit, onboard computing, autonomous driving, intelligent energy and Intelligent Vehicle Cloud Services (IVCS).

They will jointly explore 5G-based innovative application scenarios, and develop the technologies of 5G+V2X, vehicle-infrastructure cooperation and autonomous driving. Besides, the two sides will cooperate in big data infrastructure, storage, analysis, high-performance computing and informatization, to help Chery speed up its reform in the big data era.

Daimler and Infosys announce strategic partnership

Daimler AG and Infosys recently announced a long-term strategic partnership for a technology-driven IT infrastructure transformation. The collaboration aims to empower Daimler to strengthen its IT capabilities, and Infosys, its automotive expertise.

Some of the key deliverables from this partnership include:

  • A smart hybrid cloud, leveraging Infosys Cobalt and leading cloud providers, accelerating the multi-cloud journey with a focus on open source adoption
  • A carbon neutral solution, by consolidating and rationalizing data centers across all regions
  • Standardized technology stack by bringing in an ecosystem of best of breed partners
  • Creation of a state of the art Zero Trust network with seamless technology upgrades
  • Persona-driven and cognitive, AI powered anytime-anywhere workplace solution that empowers the end-users

The new MyŠKODA App launched

The Czech car manufacturer is combining its mobile services into a single app – the new MyŠKODA App. At the beginning of the year, the previous ŠKODA OneApp was integrated into the ŠKODA Connect App, and now the ŠKODA Connect App has been incorporated into the current MyŠKODA App.

The new app will keep the name MyŠKODA App and offers users access to all the mobile online services of ŠKODA Connect. In addition, it provides all the information about their vehicle and the network of ŠKODA service partners.

Porsche Digital develops artificial intelligence for noise detection

Porsche Digital expanding its product portfolio has developed digital assistant ‘Sounce’ that claims to offer an improved ability to detect noise – for example, during vehicle component tests. Among other things, the aim is to improve the development and production of components in the automotive industry.

The technology, which uses deep learning methods, can reliably and precisely detect noise, for example during endurance tests. This takes the strain off development engineers in particular, who normally have to be personally present throughout such tests. The assistant also makes error documentation more precise and simplifies root cause analysis.

Continental and SHARE NOW work on prediction of tire tread depth

Continental recently demonstrated real time tire tread depth monitoring in a pilot that entailed electric vehicles of carsharing provider SHARE NOW Denmark. In cooperation with its project partner and telemetry specialist Traffilog, the company connected information of tire sensors and telemetry data of the fleet’s cars with a proprietary algorithm in the cloud. As a result, Continental can predict tire tread depth in real time with an accuracy of below one millimeter. Pilot also entails real time remote tire pressure and temperature monitoring of the entire fleet of SHARE NOW Denmark, with approximately 600 cars currently in operation.


Tesla in India in early 2021: A top Indian minister recently gave a statement that Tesla will begin operating in India in “early” 2021. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been hinting from some time that it may start operations in the world’s second-most populated market soon. The Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways and the Minister of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, Nitin Gadkari’s statement just confirms that the tech centric automaker’s entry in the Indian market is just around the corner.

Hero Electric has tied-up eBikeGO, with an e-mobility startup under which Hero Electric will supply over 1,000 bikes to the start-up. These bikes will focus on providing last-mile deliveries. These 1000 Hero Electric bikes will be procured through the next financial year with the first batch of 120 already delivered to the startup.

VoltUp- HPCL tieup: VoltUp, a start-up providing lithium-ion battery swapping solutions for two-wheelers and three-wheelers, has partnered with Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) to open battery swapping centres across India. The companies plan to open 50 battery swapping solutions centers in the next six months, two such centres in Jaipur, Rajasthan, have already been unveiled.

Bangalore to get 100 battery-swapping stations: SUN Mobility plans to roll out ‘Swap Points’ battery-swapping stations 100 in number by the end of 2021. According to reports, these stations will have capacity to replace an EV’s dying batteries with fully charged ones in two to three minutes. Some four of there 100 stations are already functional at Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) outlets in Indiranagar, Jayanagar, Koramangala and HSR Layout.

MG Motor India ties up with TES-AMM: MG Motor India has now joined hands with TES-AMM, a global e-waste recycling and end-to-end service provider. The partnership aims to ensure environmentally-sustainable and secure recycling of MG ZS EV batteries. TES-AMM has Asia’s only Li-ion battery recycling plant and is one of the few companies certified in multiple management systems including 18001:2007/R2 (Responsible Recycling) alongside others. It uses a unique mechanical-hydrometallurgical process for enhanced asset recovery that according to the company  is environmentally superior and safer.

Tata Motors Ultra T.7 Truck introduced: Tata Motors introduced its new Ultra T.7 truck in the Indian market. The truck designed specifically for urban transportation has a host of features like connected vehicle solutions for better fleet management. The other features like crash-tested cabin, adjustable seating positions, air brakes, lower NVH levels, music system, USB charging port, LED tail lamps are also there.

(Based on News Reports and Press Releases)

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