Autonomous Vehicles Tech Digest - February 2017

Volkswagen and Mobileye agree to improve maps

Automobile manufacturer, Volkswagen, and Mobileye, a computer vision for autonomous vehicles company, have signed an agreement to equip future Volkswagen models with camera-based map and localisation technology Road Experience Management (REM) from Mobileye. The REM system would work by taking data from Volkswagen cars equipped with front cameras, to acquire lane marking and road information using Mobileye’s optical sensors. This information is then sent compressed to the cloud. Data from all equipped cars would be collated and the mapping system continuously updated. The press release says the agreement is “the first of its kind to merge data from different automobile manufacturers to create a single ‘high definition world map’” that would form an industry-wide standard. 

Google patent for clever crumple zones

Google has been granted a patent for an injury and damage reduction device. In the event of an impending collision with a person, animal, inanimate object, traffic bollard etc., the car would judge the impact force required to break one or more shear pins holding one of the vehicle’s panels in place. In the event of a collision the shear pins would break meaning the panel could more easily deform to absorb the impact and reduce damage to the person or thing hit.   

Ford invests in AI company and reveal drone concept

Ford is to invest USD1 billion in startup Argo AI over the next five years to develop a virtual driver system for the motor company’s autonomous vehicles project. Ford’s team will be combined with Argo AI to continue working on an autonomous car piloting AI system, with hopes that it will have an SAE Level 4 autonomous car on the streets by 2021. 
Ford also revealed its concept of drones delivering goods from autonomous vans. The concept, named ‘Autolivery’, would see electric self-driving vans used with drones to pick up and drop off parcels in urban areas. The concept is similar to that proposed by UPS in January 2017. Ford admits that the concept is not yet possible. 

Roborace

According to the BBC, during a Roborace motorsports championship race in Buenos Aires one of the participating autonomous racecars, Devbot (a development car used for research and development), crashed out after going too fast into a corner and clipping a barrier. The two driverless racecars were racing in an event before the main Formula E electric car race. The other car finished the race achieving a high speed of 186km/h (116mph). The cars use lidar systems. 

Peugeot Citroen given green light for testing of autonomous vehicles

The French car company Groupe PSA that owns, among others, Peugeot and Citroen has obtained authorisation from the French authorities to conduct autonomous vehicle tests with customers behind the wheel. Tests along 2000 kilometres of French highways start in March 2017. Groupe PSA says it will have completely autonomous cars on the road by 2020. 

Self-driving cars don’t need to be boring

The NIO EP9 is the world’s fastest electric car (based on a previous lap time at the famous Nurburgring in Germany) and since setting the fastest lap time at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) race track in Austin, Texas, is now also the fastest self-driving car, according to NIO. The car set a lap time of 2 minutes 40.33 seconds, with a top speed of 160mph (257km/h). With a human driver the car set a lap time at COTA of 2 minute 11.3 seconds with a top speed of 170mph, which is the fastest lap time for a production car at the circuit. NIO says the EP9 delivers 1 megawatt of power, can accelerate from 0-124mph in 7.1 seconds has a top speed of 194mph and has an interchangeable battery system that can be charged in 45 minutes, and a range of 256 miles. 

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