Volvo Drive Me Project on Hold

Swedish car manufacturer Volvo has not received authorization for the Drive Me project in Gothenburg.
It was planned for years, but now faces an unclear future: Volvo’s Drive Me project intended to outsource semi-automated XC90 models to families who could use the technology as beta testers in Gothenburg. Tests of this kind were also planned in London and China, but nothing will happen in Sweden for the time being.
The Drive Me project was expected to yield essential insights from the experience of the real world providing 100 families with autonomous vehicles, which would then be used, for example, to commute to work. Production of the pilot-assisted XC90 models began in 2016, with tests scheduled to begin in 2017.
The project was supported by a number of cooperation partners who are also involved in the technology development. One of them is the supplier Autoliv, with whom Volvo has founded a whole new company to market autonomous driving: Zenuity.

Families as Test Objects?

The tests had not been approved yet, but Volvo still expected to get the permission. Therefore the families were already introduced to the technology. Latter was stated as the official reason for the delay, until the Swedish transport authorities (Transportstyrelsen) officially refused their permission for the tests. The reason: semi-autonomous technology is still too unsafe to equip families with.
Swedish authorities cited legal difficulties and the question of liability as reasons for the ban on tests. It can be assumed that the fatal accident in Arizona was also one of the reasons for the provisional end of the tests. Investigations have shown that the driver was watching a TV show on her mobile when her autonomous Uber caused the accident. Uber has received many test cars from Volvo, and the car involved in the crash was one of those. The fear of further accidents in Gothenburg will have played a role in the decision of the authorities.

Reaching Level 4 with the Highway Pilot

Meanwhile, Volvo has announced that it wants to reach Level 4 (high autonomy) by 2021 – at least on highways. The company is now working on the Highway Pilot – the successor of Pilot Assist. Here drivers shall be able to devote themselves to other things while driving.

About the author:

David Fluhr is journalist and owner of the digital magazine “Autonomes Fahren & Co”. He is reporting regularly about trends and technologies in the fields Autonomous Driving, HMI, Telematics and Robotics. Link to his site: http://www.autonomes-fahren.de

Report on the Car HMI Europe 2018 – by Peter Rössger, beyond HMI/////

Peter Rössger is founder of beyond HMI///// and an integral part of the Car HMI Europe community. He created a paper reporting all the keynotes and presentations held at the Car HMI Europe in Berlin. The meeting was conducted with about 300 participants at the Titanic Hotel Berlin – all statements listed below were made by the speakers of the Automotive HMI community. This article only shows a few examples, download the full report to read all remarks and findings.

Background, Markets and Trends

  • User experience (UX) steers user perception (joy of use, desirable, attractiveness, trust). Usability steers user performance (effective, efficient, usable). Both build user satisfaction
  • “UX encompasses all aspects of the end-user interaction, with the company, it’s services and products…” Donald Norman
  • A product or service with great UX is usable, feasible, and valuable
  • User interaction is all about shaping the relationship between humans and their environment
  • UX is the crucial identity of the automotive future
  • Megatrends influencing the automotive industry are: digital lifestyle, electrification, autonomy, sharing economy (remark: is see others as well: urbanization, aging societies, health, safety, …)

Processes and Tools

  • A successful HMI/UX development requires a holistic view on the customers’ lives: habits on mobility, eating, digital lifestyles, living in megacities
  • A complete UX innovation practice involves: research on in vehicle UX and UX strategies to support product planning, consumer sentiment analytics, and product evaluation
  • Align with what you want to do and what not, apply the IS/IS NOT tool, create a mission to be different, an aspiration to make a promise, identify concrete benefits, and result in an innovative product, be unique, advantageous, and essential, create myths, rites, and signs for your vision
  • A modern automotive HMI process is human centric and applies user journey, storyboard, identification of requirements, concept, visual design, prototyping, testing, feedback into development
  • Modern HMI development avoid waterfall processes, agile approaches with incremental deliveries are the trend
  • The quality of an HMI needs to be measured. Criteria for a valid measurement procedure are: clear, specific, normalized, comparable, has an impact. The metric will be as unique as businesses are.

Products and Technologies

  • The new Ford Focus has a new HMI solution. It is based on a human centric, low clutter design and sold worldwide. Cluster and HUD focus on driving related information, the content can be adapted to personal use cases. The steering wheel gives control to the driver by a reduced number of input devices and a driver-oriented grouping. The infotainment system allows effortless connectivity, it uses an old HMI paradigm by having two rotary knobs. The driver assistance systems are easy to use, the 360° function integrated various driver assistance systems. The global requirements are: covering the broadest spectrum of mid-size car users, simplified design, intuitive driving experience
  • The MBUX contains cutting edge design thinking, multimodality and has no limits to realize a unique UX. The HMI is easy to use, multimodal, intuitive, and personal. It contains benchmark connectivity, best possible graphics and artificial intelligence. It is part of the Internet of Things and contains natural speech interaction for most languages
  • To gain UX emotion needs to be added to usability. Possible technologies are: haptic surfaces, holography, virtual reality, user stare and health measurements, caring technology, embodiment, empathic convenience, artificial and emotional intelligence in the HMI
  • An understanding between car and driver is required, co-learning, co-driving, co-mmunicating
  • 70% of users turn ADAS systems off due to a poor initial experience

The full report including all insights and graphics is available for download. Please find the download button below to access your report:

Human-Controlled Vs. No Control At All

Some automakers are toying with how to completely eliminate pedals and steering wheels. It sounds interesting on paper, but what if the car’s safety features fail and a passenger needs to intervene? Intervention is thought to be a huge danger to AVs, but would cars really be better off without any human control?

“I think that’s the question everyone has,” said Michael Schuldenfrei, a technology fellow at Optimal+, a big data analytics company. “Even an aircraft, which can do just about everything automatically – takeoff through landing – even then people still have manual overrides for everything. No one is pretending you can do it completely automatically.”

Maybe not, but Christophe Begue, director of solution strategy and business development at IBM’s Global Electronics Industry Team, said that you could argue it’s possible to remove pilots. Automobiles are a whole other story.

“Driving a car is more complicated than flying a plane,” said Begue.

Between traffic lights, intersections, varying road designs and fluctuating speed limits, it’s easy to see why. Planes are also dwarfed by the number of cars jamming the world’s biggest roads, which adds to the complex nature of driving.

“I think it’s going to take quite a bit of time unless it’s in a very controlled environment, like a controlled campus,” Begue added.

Controlled environments are already being tested. But while there are some shuttles that offer low-speed, pedal and wheel-free mobility in a geo-fenced environment, most automakers are not yet willing to drop human controls.

“I think what you see is everyone is being very aggressive about going to completely autonomous level 5 autonomy in the vehicle,” said Schuldenfrei. “And then as soon as something happens, they back away very fast. The Uber [incident] is a classic example.”

Schuldenfrei does not expect an override-free AV to arrive as quickly as the hype suggests. However, he is concerned that no amount of control will keep passengers safe if something goes wrong.

“Even if you have an override, when the car is driving itself, you’re already opening up tremendous risk that the driver won’t even be concentrating,” said Schuldenfrei. “So if something goes wrong, the driver [may not] notice.”

Schuldenfrei also thinks about the classic moral dilemmas faced by human drivers. If a human driver has to crash into a tree to avoid hitting a bunch of kids, he or she will likely do so without thinking twice. It’s a natural instinct. Autonomous cars would have to be programmed to do the same. No amount of machine learning will change that.

“So what do you do: do you drive into a tree and kill the driver or drive into the kids and kill the kids?” Schuldenfrei asked. “On the flipside, where is the liability and to what extent does it play a role? If you look at the statistics, autonomous cars are significantly safer per mile, per kilometer driven than human-driven cars. But it doesn’t mean they’re not going to make a mistake ever or that there won’t be a situation where you’ll be in an accident.”

Begue thought about all this for a moment. It takes a lot to develop an autonomous car, but the progress has been impressive, to say the least. New AV tests are cropping up all over the place.

“I live in San Francisco,” said Begue. “I cannot go out into the street and walk for more than 30 minutes without seeing one or two of these autonomous cars. Five years ago, would I have imagined that I’d see one every day? Probably not. Things are moving pretty fast.”

About the author:

Louis Bedigian is an experienced journalist and contributor to various automotive trade publications. He is a dynamic writer, editor and communications specialist with expertise in the areas of journalism, promotional copy, PR, research and social networking.

Startup PerceptIn developed an Autonomous Vehicle for less than $10,000

Until now, the race for autonomous driving was mainly about vehicles that can drive on public roads. But there also are alternative models that target other locations.

According to most studies, Waymo (Google’s subsidiary in the Alphabet Group) and General Motors are leading the competition for the introduction of autonomous driving. Both want to develop a driving service with robot taxis that targets vehicles that can drive on all roads.

Competition for Speed

However, this still requires some development work. The faster a car drives, the better the technology must be around it – this also applies to autonomous driving. Fatal accidents can occur at high speed, as the recent accidents involving Tesla and Uber have shown. Fast driving autonomous cars require efficient sensors that are able to “see” what is happening in the distance. This applies to all sensor types such as radar, camera or Lidar sensors.

Additionally, the data collected by the sensors has to be processed promptly in order to initiate the right actions at high speed in an emergency – not to mention the braking distance. This also implies a high computing capacity.

Why not go slower?

The problem is that powerful sensors and high computing capacities are very expensive and this is an obstacle to the technology. That’s why startup Perceptin follows another path, making it possible to significantly reduce the costs for an autonomous vehicle. Former Baidu employee Shaoshan Liu founded Perceptin in 2016 with the goal of creating a reliable vehicle that should not be used on public roads but in confined areas – i.e. on university campuses, on company grounds or in parks.

To this end, the company developed an electric car that can be produced for less than $5,000 in China. Hardware and software for autonomous driving doubles the price. Here the factor speed comes into play again. The slower the vehicle, the less computing capacity is needed. It does not use a Lidar system either, but inexpensive camera, radar and ultrasound technology.

The omission of Lidar sensors is compensated by camera technology that enables a 3D image via point clouds. This is certainly not suitable for high velocities, but is perfectly fine for vehicles not faster than 20 km/h. Its position is determined with an accuracy of 20 centimeters by GPS and an autometry sensor. The medium-range radar can only see 50 meters and the inexpensive ultrasonic sensor has a range of five meters.

Sales and Customers

Perceptin has already found its first customer – ZTE. The Chinese telecommunications company purchased five units, which will be used on its own premises. Overall, Perceptin hopes for sales figures in the six-figure range.

About the author:

David Fluhr is journalist and owner of the digital magazine “Autonomes Fahren & Co”. He is reporting regularly about trends and technologies in the fields Autonomous Driving, HMI, Telematics and Robotics. Link to his site: http://www.autonomes-fahren.de

Don’t enter Carwash Facilities with Autonomous Vehicles!

Countless experts and organizations are talking about autonomous driving, although we haven’t seen it in its final form yet. Today, we are still stuck at Level 3 automation, but Level 4 seems to be in reach.
Virtually all players of the autonomous vehicle market are testing their cars on the streets or with simulators. Latter enable companies to simulate any traffic situation imaginable and evaluate the car’s behaviour. However real traffic still holds scenarios that cannot be simulated as seen with the fatal crash of an Uber in Arizona. In this case the misbehaviour was caused by a software bug, but sensors can also fail when they are dirty after a completing a long distance without cleaning.

Pollution as a main Source of Error

Sensors have to be cleaned regularly in order to work properly. If they are covered with dirt, autonomous cars can barely „see“. Now one could think: “No problem, I just let the automatic carwash do the job.“ Unfortunately autonomous vehicles are not allowed to enter carwash facilities as Futurism found out.
The cleaning brushes could dislodge external sensors entirely and strip the car its ability to locate itself, other objects and road users. In addition soap or water leftovers on the car may interfere with the sensors‘ functionality and lead to false interpretations of the environment. It’s also a matter of costs – although Lidar sensors are getting cheaper, they still cost 5-digit sums. Imagine the costs if some autonomous cars got their Lidar swept off the roof now.

Self-Wash your Self-Driving Car

Companies like Waymo and Uber confirmed that they hired personal to clean their fleets manually instead of using automatic carwash. In order to protect sensors, they are treated with mircofiber and special cleaning liquids. Of course this is not a mass-market solution. Just think of future traffic ruled by autonomous vehicles that have to be cleaned by hand. The industry is already working on automatic cleaning units, that start operating as soon as there is dirt or smear detected on a sensor.

About the author:

David Fluhr is journalist and owner of the digital magazine “Autonomes Fahren & Co”. He is reporting regularly about trends and technologies in the fields Autonomous Driving, HMI, Telematics and Robotics. Link to his site: http://www.autonomes-fahren.de

Mobileye and Intel test Autonomous Vehicles in Jerusalem

In March 2017, Intel bought Israeli tech company Mobileye – this was not Intel’s first step towards autonomous driving, but definitely one of the most important ones. Mobileye provides computing capacity and sensors for the area around Jerusalem. The company also uses its expertise to guide several countries on the implementation of autonomous driving. Mobileye’s expertise is undisputable, at the latest since they sent 100 self-driving test vehicles onto the streets of Jerusalem.

The operation’s slogan: If you can do it in Jerusalem, you can do it everywhere, as its traffic is said to be extremely heavy and exhausting for human drivers. Apart from that, Jerusalem is also Mobileye’s company location.

Camera Sensors & True Redundancy

For the moment the testing fleet is only equipped with camera sensors. 8 cameras capture images to detect obstacles and traffic signs and for positioning and mapping. By this the vehicle can develop optimal routes by itself. The procedure of using camera sensors only is called “true redundancy”. The advantage over the use of different kinds of sensors (“real redundancy”) is the small amount of data processed.

KI & RSS

Data is processed by AI and converted into corresponding actions. In order to prevent AI from commanding dangerous maneuvers, Mobileye developed the so-called Responsibility-Sensitive-Safety (RSS) – a mathematical model that aligns AI orders with internal protocols. If a certain action or maneuver is not listed in the safety protocols, RSS prevents the execution. Intel has published the standards behind these protocols.

Computing Power

Today, all testing vehicles are equipped with the EyeQ4 chip. However, Mobileye has already unveiled its successor, the EyeQ5 chip, with a computing power ten times as strong as the current chip. The EyeQ5 will be in full mass production by 2020 and was already ordered by BMW for 2021.

First Troubleshooting

Shortly after sending out the test fleet, first issues emerged. One car ran over a red light despite the efforts of a safety driver. At least Mobileye already discovered the cause of the malfunction and solved it: A TV camera interfered with the transponder signal of the traffic lights. Because of the missing signal, the car crossed the road as if there were no traffic lights.

About the author:

David Fluhr is journalist and owner of the digital magazine “Autonomes Fahren & Co”. He is reporting regularly about trends and technologies in the fields Autonomous Driving, HMI, Telematics and Robotics. Link to his site: http://www.autonomes-fahren.de

Expert Interview with Zielpuls: Changing the existing Automotive Market Landscape

Markus Frey
Managing Director, Zielpuls

Arnd Zabka
Managing Partner, Theme Cluster Manager for Connected and Autonomous Driving, Zielpuls

We spoke with Zielpuls MD Markus Frey and Arnd Zabka, Managing Partner, Theme Cluster Manager for Connected and Autonomous Driving, on the company’s relation to the evolution of ADAS, vehicle automation and new mobility concepts. The two experts pointed out upcoming market changes for the automotive sector, important hurdles to take on the way to level 5 autonomy and exciting projects for Zielpuls in the future.

we.CONECT: What is your company’s/your relation to the evolution of ADAS, vehicle automation and new mobility concepts?

Zielpuls: The beginning change of the mobility market is the biggest challenge in our point of view. It comes hand in hand with new technologies, new developments and validation methods, new players, new customer groups and business models. It will change the game. If we look at mobility studies from 2013, we think that this should have been happened much faster. We at Zielpuls will help our customers to prepare the own organization for this new challenge and work as a catalyst to bring these new technologies to the customer.

we.CONECT: What sets you apart from similar service providers in the industry?

Zielpuls: We at Zielpuls are holistic thinking. Our business is the link between strategy and realisation. On the one hand, we help to start the development immediately, but the second important thing is to start the change management in the internal organizations and way of collaborate. We bring these two workstreams together.

we.CONECT: In your opinion: What are the big hurdles towards autonomous driving (autonomy level 5) that need to be surpassed by different stakeholders? How should they be resolved?

Zielpuls: The first prototypes will be available fast. The critical aspect is: How to get safety, security, privacy and sustainability to these systems? And in a way that is cheap enough to be available for everybody? For that on a short-term focus is the test data acquisition and the test and validation strategy for autonomous systems a hurdle. We have to work hard for test automatization and simulation of the complete system to handle this.

On a long-term view there are massive disruptions how mobility will change. Long-term success needs massive change of the actual mobility-supplier. There will be new business models associated with a new definition of the car. As an example an additional value will be the transport and pick up of children or personal delivery services, your finance consultant will pick you up at home and bring you to your work. As a benefit he gets your time for his service and product presentation.

we.CONECT: According to your expectations: How will autonomous driving technology change the existing automotive market landscape?

Zielpuls: By going from ownership to usership, there will be much more different cars and use cases in the world. The market will grow with new user groups. New players will enter the market. By lowering the entry barrier by using a car as a service, mobility will be assessable to new customer groups like children, people with no driving license or retired persons. Developing a car and production will be much easier for new players in the future and less heavy-industry focused.

we.CONECT: With smart cities beginning to roll out in the near future, how do you see the car markets in less developed cities/countries or regions being effected?

Zielpuls: There is a non addressed market for mobility as big as todays car market. So I think, that the markets in less developed cities will grow rapidly hand in hand with people’s increasing need for mobility without owning a car. Take the market for consumer goods in emerging nations as an example. The big players had problems selling their products in 100 units like laundry detergent. So they offered successfully single portions which people could afford.

we.CONECT: Do you think this is being overlooked by the OEMs & Tier 1s to a certain degree?

Zielpuls: The OEM’s are not focusing on the new market groups without a driving license. So new players can easily enter the market. The next seven years will build the fundament for the new mobility business. Every gap you don’t allocate will be filled by a new company. They will have to change from a car manufacturer to a service provider for their own cars. Additionally they need solutions in fleet management, billing systems and different service provisioning.

we.CONECT: What project would you like to work on next in this sector if given the opportunity?

Zielpuls: We would like to work on the step from level 3(4) to level 5. From the strategy to the realization. We want to take our customers on a journey into the future: We want to push new technologies and services quickly to pilot customers, incubate them in mass market products and parallel push the own organization to speed and bring together development of industry and sectors across the board.

we.CONECT: With the automotive industry moving into a new era, what do you think the car makers are not focusing enough on and how could this be a problem?

Zielpuls: It is all about (development) speed and talents.

By moving into a new era, the car manufacturers have to focus on multiple aspects at the same time. On the one hand side, the development of the “classical” car has to go on and more and more new systems have to be integrated (electric, connected, autonomous, service orientation, new interior, etc.). On the other hand side, complete new cars and architectures have to be developed in parallel. These cars will have a big adding value in the software, new engine systems and a complete new architecture. To have success, this architecture has to be opened for new technologies and platform systems. One important thing is to open the systems engineering and think in collaboration. No player in the market has enough financial power to play in all technology fields as a star. The star will be, who brings all technologies to one service together and can offer this to the customer.

we.CONECT: What do you believe would be a solution to this? And what can Zielpuls offer to OEMs & T1s to work towards this solution?

Zielpuls: A spin-off company in an attractive location and environment can be a possible solution. They attract high educated employees. Zielpuls is such a kind of company. We can help the car manufacturers to develop new state of the art solutions, we go with them on their new way and we’re building new organizations.

About the Interviewees:

Markus Frey: has been managing partner of Zielpuls GmbH since its foundation in 2008 and is responsible for Finance & Controlling and Information Technology. At the same time, he is Managing Director of the Zielpuls subsidiary in China with offices in Shanghai and Beijing. Before becoming an entrepreneur, he worked as a consultant for several years and worked for clients in the automotive and logistics industries. His consulting focus at Zielpuls lies in the areas of IT strategy and digitalization. In particular, Mr. Frey advises in the fields of autonomous driving, driver assistance systems, new mobility concepts, smart connected products and digital transformation. Mr. Frey made Zielpuls GmbH known to technology groups from more than 30 markets worldwide for the sustainable implementation and acceleration of internal development processes.

Arnd Zabka: has been a Managing Partner at Zielpuls GmbH since January 2018 and is responsible for the further development of the technology cluster “Connected and autonomous driving”. Before joining Zielpuls, he worket for Altran. Mr. Zabka has 17 years of consulting and project management experience in the areas of automotive electronics development, HAF, ADAS, infotainment, connected products and e-mobility.