July 24th, 2017 News of the Day: Daimler & Bosch Team up on Autonomous Parking Garage, Jaguar Land Rover Opens Engine Factory in China
Daimler and Bosch Team up on Autonomous Parking Garage
Parking can be a pain sometimes, especially when trying to navigate in a narrow space-saving parking garage. Daimler and Bosch teamed up to bring autonomous driving tech to one of the more frustrating parts of driving — finding and parking a vehicle in a tight, multi-story parking structure.
Their automated valet system is debuting today at the parking garage for the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany, making it easy for vehicles to simple drive up, leave their vehicle, and trust the system to negotiate the multi-story parking facility, find and park in a spot. The valet system will allow museum visitors to reserve cars from the facility using a smartphone app.
The vehicle then autonomously heads to the pick-up spot, and then once the visitor is through and wants to drop off the car, they simply drive it up to the drop-off zone and check it in using the same smartphone app.
The car then drives itself to its assigned parking spot, guided by the facility's infrastructure and its own onboard sensors.The infrastructure component is supplied by Bosch, and it works in concert with the car tech provided by Mercedes-Benz on its vehicles. There are sensors both throughout the structure, and on the car, providing info both about where vehicles are located and moving throughout the facility, as well as making it possible for the vehicle to sense and react to objects in its path, including pedestrians.
The goal of the project is to find out how people react to having automated parking services available, and how they use the service. Bosch and Daimler note that it's possible to retrofit existing parking structures with similar tech, which could lead to up to 20 percent more efficiency in use of their available capacity. This is another way autonomous tech could change the face of our cities without requiring extensive changes to existing infrastructure.
Kakao Working With Hyundai on Speech Recognition in Cars
Seoul, South Korea based Kakao announced plans to co-operate with Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp. (Hyundai/Kia) to implement server-based speech recognition technology in cars utilizing Kakao's artificial intelligence (AI) platform called Kakao I. The implementation is expected to begin in September with the Genesis G70 model.
Kakao I is a comprehensive AI platform combining Kakao's key AI technologies involving multimedia and language, including speech and image recognition, text-to-speech, natural language processing, image recognition and chatbots. Kakao plans to grow the platform by connecting it with in-house services and opening it up to various outside partners. All products and services utilizing Kakao I will be authenticated with a "Kakao I Inside" logo.
The server-based speech recognition technology co-developed with Hyundai/Kia is the first outside service to incorporate Kakao I. The ‘One Shot' process allows drivers to voice search for various destinations, including restaurants, landmarks, and service stations with just a single step.
After pressing the voice search button on the steering wheel, drivers can see accurate navigation information by simply stating the command word and destination. The system supports a large variety of search and filtering functionality, including addresses, businesses in specific neighborhoods, and others.
Once the driver's search word is registered, it is processed through Kakao's speech recognition servers. From there, the relevant navigation information is delivered to Kakao Map servers, then transferred into Point of Interest (POI) data on the car's navigation system.
Kakao and Hyundai/Kia have been co-developing the technology after signing an memorandum of understanding (MoU) last year, and plan to continue the partnership on AI technology, as well as commercialization of connected cars.
Jaguar Land Rover Opens Engine Plant in China
Jaguar Land Rover opened its first overseas engine plant in Changshu, China. Britain's Largest carmaker, which already operates a plant in China as part of a partnership with Chery, said the new facility was part of a 10.9 billion yuan ($1.6 billion) investment with the Chinese automaker."The new engine plant demonstrates Jaguar Land Rover's long-term commitment to the Chinese market, providing customers with an exciting range of vehicles and powertrain options, as well as to its joint venture," JLR said in a statement.
The site in Changshu will make the new Ingenium 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine.
JLR's car plant in Changshu opened less than three years ago. The Range Rover Evoque, Land Rover Discovery Sport and a long wheelbase Jaguar XFL are built in the factory. The Jaguar E-Pace compact SUV will be added next year.
China was JLR's fastest growing market in 2016, accounting for 20% of global sales.
JLR, owned by India's Tata Motors, is rapidly expanding its production levels and model line-up and decided in 2015 to build a major new plant in Slovakia, rather than expand its operations in Britain.
Earlier this month, the automaker said it would build the new E-Pace at Magna Steyr in Austria and in China, the first Jaguar car made for global sale to be built outside of Britain.
Nexar Releases 55,000 Image Dataset for Autonomous Cars
Today Nexar, the provider of the world's first vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication network for road safety, issued a challenge to researchers to develop a geography-adaptive autonomous driving perception model. For the challenge, the company released its NEXET image dataset that includes over 55,000 street-level images from over 80 countries.
The goal of the challenge is to initiate a collaborative effort to address the problem of building a driving perception that performs consistently over different geographies. The key element for developing an all-weather, all-road, all-country driving perception is the ability to obtain data from an large and diverse training dataset. NEXET was carefully curated to contain scenarios of varying lighting, weather, and topographical conditions, as well as varying driving cultures in different countries to offer a comprehensive dataset.
"The robustness of learning driving policy models depends critically on having access to the largest possible training dataset exposing the true diversity of the 10 trillion miles that humans drive every year in the real world. Current approaches are trained using homogenous data from a small number of vehicles running in controlled environments, or in simulation, which fail to perform adequately in the true diversity of real-world dangerous corner cases," said Bruno Fernandez Ruiz, co-founder and CTO of Nexar.
"Safe driving requires continuously resolving a long tail of those corner cases. The only way to ensure safety in ADAS is to continuously capture as many of these cases as possible. By releasing this diverse dataset, we are opening our challenge to researchers to help us develop these algorithms and together create more robust ADAS models - essential to a safe autonomous future."
Britain Launches $320 Million Fund to Boost Electric Battery Technology
Britain launched a 246 million-pound ($320 million) fund on Monday to boost the development and manufacturing of electric batteries, a major growth area for the car and energy sectors.
The plan allows those in business and academia to apply for government funds to work on a range of possible electric battery projects, is part of Britain's industrial strategy which Prime Minister Theresa May published in January.
It is designed to take a more hands-on approach to developing key industries to help protect the economy as Britain leaves the European Union.
Automakers worldwide are racing to build greener vehicles and improve charge times in a bid to meet rising customer demand and meet air quality targets. However, Britain lacks sufficient manufacturing capacity, an area ministers are keen to build up.
The first tranche comprises a 45 million-pound pot of money which will help to establish a 'Battery Institute' for research to help improve the affordability of the technology, which needs to bolster charge and use times, reduce storage sizes and boost capacity.
"Joining together the research, development, application and manufacture of energy storage technologies – and specifically battery storage – is a huge opportunity for the energy sector and the automotive sector alike," Clark said in a speech in Birmingham.
In May, representatives from politics, academia and business in the central English city of Coventry pitched plans to receive part of the funds for a "National Battery Prototyping Centre" which would focus on research and development and testing.
Japan's Nissan already builds its electric Leaf at its north of England plant but Britain's biggest carmaker Jaguar Land Rover is building its first low-emissions model in Austria.
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