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Automotive Technology

The Automotive Technology Blog is the place for conversation and discussion about electrical/electronic components, materials, design & assembly, and powertrain systems. Here, you'll find everything from application ideas, to news and industry trends, to hot topics and cutting edge innovations.

How Ford Motor Company Views the Future

Posted June 18, 2016 12:00 AM by Engineering360 eNewsletter

Wearables, personal assistants, and augmented reality — Ford is exploring the possibilities of all these technologies in the company's different Research and Innovation Centers. While some of this work focuses on the long term, 10 to 15 years from now, about 60% of the effort is dedicated to the near term, or three to five years ahead. Collaboration is critical. As this report explains, Ford is quick to team up with universities and companies outside of the car realm to expand their own horizons.


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Concept Car Shows Off Future Manufacturing Trends

Posted May 16, 2016 12:00 AM by Engineering360 eNewsletter

Shell has unveiled a concept car that dramatically reduces primary energy use over its entire lifecycle. According to the company, the car would require about half the energy to manufacture and operate than a small family car, and about two thirds less energy than that required for a sports utility vehicle. Built around the Gordon Murray Design iStream platform, the 550 kg (1,212 lb) vehicle is a showcase for recycled carbon fiber and other lightweight materials as well as components made from 3D printing.


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3 comments; last comment on 05/17/2016
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Not Ready for Prime Time

Posted April 01, 2016 12:00 AM by Engineering360 eNewsletter

The autonomous vehicle was at fault. That was the rendering of California's Department of Motor Vehicles regarding a recent accident between Google's self-driving car and a California bus. Perhaps more disconcerting, the autonomous vehicle - in a recent 15 month period - failed to take control on 341 separate occasions.


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23 comments; last comment on 04/04/2016
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On-the-Go Internet Service

Posted March 19, 2016 12:00 AM by Engineering360 eNewsletter

Before 4G LTE communications have had a chance to become a standard feature in the connected car, a new technology has emerged that may take its place. Toyota has teamed up with Kymeta to develop an embedded flat antenna that mounts inconspicuously on the roof of vehicles and supports on-the-go satellite connectivity. The antenna, called mTenna, leverages software and liquid crystal technologies to acquire, steer, and lock onto any satellite (see video). What makes this technology so attractive? Satellite communications offer a global footprint and provide 1,000x more spectrum and higher transfer speeds than cellular services.


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A Safety Tolerance for Autonomous Cars?

Posted March 16, 2016 12:18 PM by HUSH

Personally, I've yet to even see a driverless car. At the moment, the New York state legislature is preparing to review bill A31, which would establish protocols for testing autonomous vehicles throughout the state. If passed, driverless cars could share roadways within a few months. New York will be an interesting testing ground for driverless technology, as traffic varies from congested metros to endless highways and rough terrain, sometimes with all four seasons experienced in a single day.

Not that I'm the least bit worried, though there could be some growing concern. On Valentine's Day last month, a Google autonomous car pulled out in front of city bus--it was the first case where a driverless car was clearly at fault for a collision. This came after several years and 1.3 million miles of road testing to date. Google engineers feel that the accident was a necessary lesson, and tweaked the car's driving algorithm to represent that large vehicles often behave differently in traffic than cars. Last November a Google car was pulled over for driving too slowly and impeding traffic.

In fact the majority of accidents with autonomous cars have been the fault of humans. In July 2015, all 14 incidents to date were due to human decision making. Tesla reported early issues with its autopilot system were because people expected too much from it. (Though perhaps they should have called it assisted driving, not autopilot.)

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx believes that autonomous vehicles could reduce traffic accidents by 80%. He said that autonomous vehicles can't be held to impossible standards, when they are clearly an improvement on human drivers. In January, his office announced a $4 billion investment in developing and regulating the technology.

It's a very real possibility that due to all these events, the timeline for integrating larger masses of autonomous vehicles has accelerated. More states are allowing driverless cars to be tested and operated within their borders. Google (amongst others) are making swift changes to their driving technologies.

But do driverless technologies need to be 100% accurate? They're likely already better than human drivers, and there is always going be some risk or tolerance. Google engineers spoke about how imperative it is to get real world feedback. How does this conversation shift when the first fatal accident involving a driverless car occurs?

That will ultimately determine if 2020 sees the first waves of driverless cars as Google plans, or if more demanding standards need to be implemented, which could push the technology out another 5-10 years.

5 comments; last comment on 03/17/2016
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