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February 7, 2018 News of the Day: Half of All Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles Sold in California, Dubai and HERE Technologies to Develop Data Infrastructure for Autonomous Transportation

February 7, 2018 News of the Day: Half of All Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles Sold in California, Dubai and HERE Technologies to Develop Data Infrastructure for Autonomous Transportation

Author: Eric Walz   

Half of All Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles Sold Were in California

WASHINGTON — By the end of 2017, 6,475 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles were sold globally since 2013, when the vehicles first became available commercially. The figures were disclosed by market research firm Information Trends in its upcoming report, "Global Market for Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles, 2018."

According to the report, over 50 percent of these fuel cell vehicles were sold in California, making the state a global leader in adopting the technology. Of the remaining countries, the majority of sales were in Japan, which is also at the forefront of hydrogen station deployments.

Among the major automakers, Toyota has been the most successful, accounting for over 75 percent of all fuel cell vehicles sold. The numbers represent a twofold increase in 2017 over the previous years.

Hydrogen infrastructure is coming along steadily, said Naqi Jaffery, the lead author of the report. In northeast U.S., hydrogen station buildout is gathering momentum, giving automakers a second market in the U.S.

According to Jaffery, a respectable hydrogen fueling ecosystem will not be ready until 2020. The slow buildout of the hydrogen stations has given an opening to battery electric vehicles whose sales are rapidly gaining ground.

Jaffery, who is bullish on the future of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, said battery electric vehicles will be short-term beneficiaries of the movement towards zero-emission vehicles. However, as the hydrogen infrastructure evolves, fuel cell vehicles will pick up traction.

By 2021, at least 11 automakers will have rolled out hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, including Toyota, Lexus, Hyundai, Kia, Honda, Mercedes-Benz and BMW. Honda's hydrogen powered Clarity was first made available nationwide on December 1st of last year.

Dubai and HERE Technologies to Develop Data Infrastructure for Autonomous Transportation

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The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) of Dubai and HD mapping company HERE Technologies today announced that they have signed a memorandum of understanding on a long-term technology collaboration with the aim of mapping the city of Dubai with high definition (HD) technology for the first time. HD maps are a prerequisite to moving Dubai closer to its goal of having 25% of public transport self-driving services by 2030.

Both parties plan to deploy newly available location technologies in the development of a data infrastructure to support safe, sustainable and efficient autonomous transportation. These efforts are in line with Dubai's Smart City strategy and its self-driving transport roadmap, which ultimately aim to increase the quality of life for people in Dubai.

As part of their planned cooperation, RTA and HERE intend to conduct a number of pilots aimed at enabling HD Live Map, HERE's map for autonomous cars, for public service vehicles operating in Dubai. HD Live Map is a high definition and self-updating map designed to provide vehicles with accurate information about what is happening on the road.

An additional focal point is on utilizing the HERE Open Location Platform (OLP) as a system to intelligently connect vehicles with each other as well as the road infrastructure, such as traffic lights and sensors on roadways and sidewalks.

The OLP enables multiple automakers and other organizations and sources to transmit live sensor data that is then aggregated, enriched with high-precision location data, and transmitted back to cars in the form of near real-time, geo-targeted, contextually-relevant information about changing road conditions.

Following initial planning and proof-of-concept phases, RTA and HERE share the objective to target joint pilots utilizing the new technologies as part of preparation to deploy self-driving vehicles at EXPO 2020, which Dubai will be hosting.

Abdulla Al Madani, CEO of RTA's Corporate Technology Support Services Sector expressed his pleasure to sign this MoU with HERE Technologies, reaffirming RTA's commitment to work with internationally recognized technology companies to deliver the latest solutions to the public in Dubai.

"RTA has always been a forerunner in harnessing the most sophisticated technologies through collaborating with the world's best providers taking into consideration the contribution to make Dubai the world's smartest city and make its residents, tourists and visitors happy and satisfied," said Al Madani.

Leon van de Pas, SVP, Internet of Things at HERE Technologies, said: "Dubai recognizes the importance of new location technologies in making transportation more efficient, safer and sustainable for people. Driven by our vision of enabling an autonomous world for everyone, the HERE Technologies team is excited and energized to help Dubai deliver on its ambition plans for a driverless future."

Ex Uber CEO Kalanick Testifies Uber Sought Partnership With Google on Self-Driving Ride Hailing Service

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SAN FRANCISCO — As the Uber Waymo trial begun its third day, Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick testified that he once thought of Google as a "big brother."

During his testimony on Wednesday, Kalanick said he had repeatedly tried to partner with the search engine giant on an autonomous vehicle ride-hailing service. Kalanick said Uber decided to start its own autonomous vehicle development after repeated requests for meetings with Google were ignored, according to Automotive News, who is covering the trial.

"We had been going to them really interested in partnering in some fashion," Kalanick said. "Maybe we could find a way to take our efforts to partner and get to the future faster. And they were generally not receptive."

Karen Dunn, an attorney from Boies Schiller Flexner representing Uber, showed emails Kalanick received reporting rumors that Google was launching its own robo-taxi service. The former executive said he repeatedly tried to meet with the tech giant, which had invested in Uber in 2013, to partner on the service.

In 2015, Uber acquired a robotics startup formed by Carnegie Mellon University researchers, launching its Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh focusing solely on the development of autonomous vehicles and related technologies.

Google, which had publicly begun its own self-driving research in 2014, was "unpumped," Kalanick said. Kalanick was referring to one Uber's core principles it called "Superpumped" used to describe its employees enthusiasm.

"Larry [Page, CEO of Google parent company Alphabet] was fairly upset with us for acquiring the CMU team and starting autonomous vehicles for ourselves," the former Uber executive said. "He got all angsty and said, 'Why are you doing my thing?' "

He added that the relationship continued to sour after Uber acquired former Google engineer Anthony Levandowski's startup Otto, in August 2016. Kalanick said Page called him in October 2016, accusing him of taking Google's people and intellectual property, though he did not specifically mention Levandowski or the trade secrets disputed in the current lawsuit.

Kalanick also explained the bellicose language detailed in former Uber manager John Bares' notes. He described "cheat codes" as "elegant solutions to problems that haven't been thought of before," such as the sensors equipped on Tesla vehicles collecting data to improve the automaker's self-driving software.

Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi and DiDi Chuxing Exploring Car-sharing Partnership in China

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Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi, one of the world's largest automotive alliances, today announced it has signed a memorandum of understanding with DiDi Chuxing to explore future business cooperation on a new electric vehicle car-sharing program in the People's Republic of China.

The memorandum of understanding signed with DiDi underlines the commitment to new mobility services at the Alliance, including the launch of robo-vehicle ride-hailing services, as part of the Alliance 2022 strategic midterm plan launched last year by Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi.

Ogi Redzic, senior vice president of Connected Vehicles and Mobility Services for Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi, said: "The potential business and technology opportunities that we will explore with DiDi are quite promising. This cooperation fits with the Alliance expansion in vehicle electrification, autonomy, connectivity and new mobility services."

Chen Ting, General Manager for the Express Mobility Group of DiDi Chuxing, said, "Strategic partnerships with the world's leading industry players like Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi will enable us to pool our strengths and resources to meet diversified mobility demands and create an open, sharing-based transportation ecosystem, as we innovate vehicles for a future of ridesharing, AI technology and new energy."

As the world's largest automotive group in unit sales, the Alliance is accelerating convergence and synergy initiatives in a range of new automotive technologies. By the end of its strategic plan, the Alliance will launch 12 pure electric models worldwide, utilizing common EV platforms and components, while also bringing to market 40 vehicles worldwide with autonomous drive technology and developing robo-vehicle ride-hailing services.

Under the Alliance 2022 strategic plan, Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi is forecasting that the combined revenues of its member companies will reach $240 billion and that annual unit sales will exceed 14 million by the end of 2022, compared with 10.6 million units sold by its member companies in 2017.

Eric Walz
Eric Walz
Originally from New Jersey, Eric is an automotive and technology reporter specializing in the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley. Eric has over fifteen years of automotive experience and a B.A. in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the automotive industry and beyond. He has worked on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology. Outside of work, Eric likes to travel to new places, play guitar, and explore the outdoors.
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