Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Toyota Announces New Features for 2020 Model-Year Line-Up

Safety is focus of new upgrades.

by on Jun.14, 2019

For the 2020 model year, the Toyota plans to offer some upgrades across most of its vehicle line-up.

When Toyota Motor North America rolls out its vehicle line-up for the 2020 model year, they’ll sport two new features: Automatic Engine Shut Off and Automatic Park, as well as have options for a few others.

Starting with 2020 model year vehicles, Toyota will phase in an automatic park system, which is designed to help reduce the risk of roll-away vehicles. The feature will be available in vehicles with an electronic means of shifting and/or applying the parking brake.

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It will automatically shift the vehicle into the “park” position and/or apply the electronic parking brake, in the event the driver exits the vehicle without placing the vehicle in “park,” Toyota officials said. (more…)

Exterior Airbags Could Save Lives of Passengers and Pedestrians

ZF bag automatically triggers ahead of an collision.

by on Jun.13, 2019

Auto supplier ZF has developed exterior airbags to help mitigate injuries to both vehicle occupants as well as pedestrians.

Today’s cars are loaded with smart safety systems, including technology like forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, designed to prevent crashes. But when a crash does occur, airbags can substantially reduce the risk for vehicle occupants.

Today’s airbags can pop out of all sorts of nooks and crannies, including the steering wheel, the instrument panel and a vehicle’s headliner. But ZF has unveiled a new airbag concept that is mounted outside the vehicle where it can be triggered in the milliseconds before a crash occurs, rather than after an impact already has taken place.

Safety News!

“Occupant safety is paramount when developing new vehicles for automated and autonomous driving,” said Michael Büchsner, head of ZF’s Passive Safety Systems Division. “Our concept of the pre-crash external side airbag is a great example of how ZF wants to achieve its Vision Zero, a world without accidents and emissions.” (more…)

Toyota, SoftBank Preparing Launch of Self-Driving Venture

Monet looks compete with other autonomous entities.

by on Jun.12, 2019

Monet Technologies, led by CEO Junichi Miyakawa, will operate the new self-driving joint venture created by Toyota Motor and SoftBank.

Toyota Motor and its partner SoftBank plan to begin operating a self-driving venture, originated by Monet, in Southeast Asia in 2020.

The move would mark a shift for Japan’s third biggest telco as it looks abroad for growth and potentially bring it into competition with portfolio companies of parent SoftBank Group Corp. and its $100 billion Vision Fund, which has invested in major ride-hailing firms around the world.

Global News!

Monet, which is developing an on-demand self-driving service platform, is planning to export a basic version of the system, Chief Executive Junichi Miyakawa told Reuters. (more…)

Fiat Chrysler Teams Up With Autonomous Vehicle Start-Up Aurora

Move could fill a gaping hole left open after collapse of merger talks with Renault.

by on Jun.10, 2019

Fiat Chrysler CEO Mike Manley hasn't stopped looking for partners the wake of the FCA-Renault falling apart.

Fiat Chrysler will form an alliance with autonomous vehicle start-up Aurora to develop technology for commercial vehicles that could range from hands-free taxis to driverless delivery trucks.

Aurora currently runs operations in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as well as San Francisco and Palo Alto, California, three of the hotbeds of autonomous vehicle research, with more than 200 employees. Earlier this year it raised $530 million through a Series B funding round, with Amazon one of its key investors.

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“As part of FCA’s autonomous vehicle strategy, we will continue to work with strategic partners to address the needs of customers in a rapidly changing industry,” said Mike Manley, chief executive officer, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. “Aurora brings a unique skillset combined with advanced and purposeful technology that complements and enhances our approach to self-driving.”

The deal, which officially links Aurora with Fiat Chrysler’s North American unit, FCA US, was announced only days after the parent company broke off merger talks with Renault. One of the potential benefits of that tie-up would have been access to autonomous and electrified vehicle technologies being developed by the French automaker’s Japanese alliance partner, Nissan.

(French government blamed for collapse of Fiat Chrysler-Renault merger plan. Click Here for the story.)

Fiat Chrysler also supplied Waymo with 65,000 Pacifica minivans for its Waymo One service.

FCA insiders have blamed French government interference for scuttling the proposed “merger-of-equals,” but sources in France have, in turn, claimed that they were concerned that the deal could have fractured the two decade old Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance.

What is clear is that Fiat Chrysler has needed help when it comes to autonomous technology. Under Sergio Marchionne, the former CEO who passed away unexpectedly last summer, it was little more than an afterthought. There was little work done in-house, in sharp contrast to other major competitors such as Nissan, Toyota, Volkswagen, General Motors and Ford.

Prior to this announcement, FCA’s biggest move in the autonomous field was to agree to provide as many as 60,000 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans for use in the new Waymo One ride-sharing service started by the Google spinoff Waymo in the Phoenix area – which is scheduled to expand to at least 20 more cities in the coming years.

In an ironic twist, Aurora’s CEO Chris Urmson, a pioneer in the autonomous field, previously headed Waymo before it was spun off by Google and new CEO John Krafcik came onboard.

In the non-monogamous world of high-tech transportation, the connecting lines crisscross all over one another. Amazon, which is now paired with FCA though Aurora, led a consortium that purchased a major stake in electric vehicle start-up Rivian earlier this year. While the digital retailer hasn’t explained its goals, it is widely believed to be working up plans to field a fleet of driverless delivery trucks.

Meanwhile, another investor in Rivian is Ford Motor Co., a key rival of Fiat Chrysler’s in the commercial vehicle market.

(Click Here for more about the failed FCA-Renault merger.)

Neither FCA nor Aurora would discuss specific details of their new alliance, including any financial arrangements. Earlier this year, after the Series B funding round was completed, the start-up reportedly had a $2.5 billion valuation, according to the Reuters news service.

Along with the new FCA deal, Aurora has also forged relationships with Hyundai, Volkswagen and Chinese electric vehicle start-up Byton.

“We are thrilled to forge a partnership with FCA US to develop a meaningful business model for delivering the benefits of self-driving commercial vehicles,” said Sterling Anderson, Aurora co-founder and chief product officer.

Precisely what those vehicles will be isn’t clear, but the dozens of automakers and research firms exploring autonomous technology see a number of possible options. The general consensus is that costs will run too high, at least in the early years, for most consumers, putting the focus on commercial ventures. These include autonomous cabs like those Waymo One is fielding, with General Motors and its Cruise Automation subsidiary promising to launch their own operation later this year.

Local delivery services would like to dispense with costly drivers, as well, though the challenge is resolving the “last 100 foot” problem, getting packages from the truck to the door. Some experiments have required customers to go and pick up their packages but that isn’t seen as a popular option. Drones are a possibility, but Ford last month demonstrated a robot that could take packages from truck to drop-off.

(Waymo kicks off autonomous taxi and ride-sharing service. Click Here for the story.)

Long-haul trucks are also a possibility, though not an area in which FCA competes. Its former partner, Daimler AG, however, has been fleet testing hands-free technology through several subsidiaries, including the U.S.-based Freightliner.

Cadillac Expanding Coverage of Hands-Free Super Cruise

Luxury marque adds 70,000 miles of territory.

by on Jun.06, 2019

Cadillac will add another 70,000 miles of roadway to Super Cruise's coverage by this fall.

Cadillac is adding more highway miles to range of its Super Cruise feature, which allows for hands-free driving on limited access roadways.

Super Cruise will now be availability for travel to an additional 70,000 miles of compatible, divided highways in the United States and Canada. This expansion will make the industry’s first true hands-free driver assistance feature available on more than 200,000 total miles of compatible highways by the fourth quarter of 2019, according to official from General Motors.

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“We are constantly working to make Super Cruise the most beneficial system for our customers,” said Mario Maiorana, Super Cruise chief engineer. “Expanding our offering of compatible highways will allow people the ease and convenience of traveling hands-free more often.” (more…)

GM, Michelin Team Up to Let the Air Out of the Tire

Airless Uptis concept could go into production by 2024, the two partners announce.

by on Jun.04, 2019

Steve Kiefer, GM’s global purchasing chief, talks about Uptis, the revolutionary new tire being tested by GM and Michelin.

The pneumatic tire revolutionized transportation, and while it might often be ignored, it’s an essential part of the modern automobile. But not for much longer, at least if a new partnership between Michelin and General Motors pans out.

GM said on Tuesday that it will begin testing the French company’s prototype wheel/tire combination, called Uptis, with a goal of putting the airless design in production by “as early as 2024.”

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“I would consider it revolutionary,” said Steve Kiefer, GM’s global director of purchasing, during a news conference in Montreal on Tuesday. If it works out as well as preliminary tests indicate, “We end up with a tire that’s maintenance-free,” while matching the basic characteristics of conventional pneumatic tires. (more…)

Lexus Lifts the Covers on Updates RX Line in Bid to Retain CUV Dominance

More aggressive styling, more features – but there also are plenty of new competitors.

by on May.30, 2019

Lexus VP Lisa Materazzo shows off the 2020 RX 350 F Sport during a CA event Wednesday.

For countless American family buyers, the Lexus RX has served as the luxurious alternative to a minivan. Almost from the moment it was introduced, 22 years ago, it has dominated the high-line midsize crossover market, and that’s a position Lexus is determined to retain as what was once a small niche has become one of the U.S. luxury market’s largest segments.

Four years after launching the fourth-generation RX, Lexus is giving the CUV a significant enough “refresh” to stage a roll-out event for journalists in both the U.S. and China on Wednesday night. What they got to see was a vehicle with more distinctive styling, more high-tech features and more advanced safety gear as a standard feature – but with the 2020 Lexus RX facing significantly more competition than ever before, the question is whether it can maintain its traditional momentum.

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Part of the challenge is that Lexus has, since it first launched in 1989, been a Baby Boomer brand, and the RX line is one of the examples of that, said Rebecca Lindland, an automotive analyst with RebeccaDrives. “The RX,” she added. “is no longer aspirational” for the subsequent generations “just starting their families.”

(more…)

Honda Offering Optional Camera Sideview Mirrors New e Urban Hatchback

Are camera mirrors finally here? In Europe and Japan, Yes. U.S.? Still waiting.

by on May.28, 2019

Honda's new e urban electric vehicle will uses cameras in place of side view mirrors. It debuts in Europe later this year.

Honda is set to become the next automaker to offer customers the option of replacing conventional glass sideview mirrors with a system relying on cameras instead.

The technology will debut on the Honda e urban electric vehicle that will make its debut in the European market – though the automaker hasn’t said precisely when that will be. It will follow the launch of similar technology on the Lexus ES, the Japanese version of the sedan becoming the world’s first production vehicle to offer sideview cameras.

What a Concept!

The technology has long been used on concept cars, automakers contending it could offer a number of advantages, including reduced wind noise and fuel economy-robbing drag. But regulators are only beginning to give camera systems a go in Europe and Japan, with no clear sense when it will be approved by U.S. authorities. (more…)

General Motors Debuts New Digital Brain for Future Vehicles

New architecture allows for future connected car tech.

by on May.21, 2019

GM's new digital vehicle platform can process 4.5 terabytes per hour and will debut on the 2020 Cadillac CT5 sedan.

General Motors is pushing to remain a leader in autonomous technology with new vehicles and mobility services; however, it’s latest development may be the most critical to ensure it remains at the front of the pack.

The company unveiled its new all-new digital platform architecture, designed with the needs of future, such as connected cars, autonomous electric vehicles and other technologies, in mind. Until now, GM has been loading up its previous gen architecture with new tech, despite the fact it is more than 20 years old and comes with limitations.

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The new architecture, which will underpin the 2020 Cadillac CT5 sedan and its Super Cruise semi-autonomous driving feature, should be available across nearly all GM product lines by 2023, the company says. (more…)

GMC Tightens Up Premium Truck Segment with 2020 Sierra 1500

More technology and engine choices highlight new truck.

by on May.17, 2019

For 2020, the GMC Sierra gets a slew of new technology as well as a new engine offering.

The competition to produce the best-equipped pickup truck continued to get tighter today with GMC’s announcement that its “taking premium to the next level” for its 2020 Sierra 1500.

GMC’s full-size light-duty pickup can now get a slew of new options to take it up a notch, including expanded availability for its carbon fiber bed, 3.0-liter Duramax turbo-diesel and 10-speed automatic transmission, additional technology like Adaptive Cruise Control – Camera.

Product News!

While options are great, functionality is still king among truck users and GMC is looking to make a statement in that arena too. For 2020, the Sierra 1500 will be available with the upgraded ProGrade Trailering System introduced earlier this year on the 2020 Sierra HD. The updated system offers 15 camera views – the class leader –  an in-vehicle Trailering App which has been enhanced to simplify the trailering process. (more…)


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