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Renault, Nissan, Microsoft, co-drivers for car future

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Renault and Nissan along with Microsoft have signed a global, multiyear agreement to partner on next-generation technologies to advance connected driving experiences worldwide.

The companies will work together to develop next-generation connected services for cars powered by Microsoft Azure, one of the company’s intelligent cloud offerings. These new services will improve customer experience via advanced navigation, predictive maintenance and vehicle centric services, remote monitoring of car features, external mobile experiences and over-the-air updates.

“A car is becoming increasingly connected, intelligent and personal,” said Ogi Redzic, Renault-Nissan Alliance senior vice-president, Connected Vehicles and Mobility Services. “Partnering with Microsoft allows us to accelerate the development of the associated key technologies needed to enable scenarios our customers want and build all-new ones they haven’t even imagined. We aim to become the provider of connected mobility for everyone with one single global platform.”

The Renault-Nissan Alliance is pioneering autonomous driving and connectivity features on mainstream, mass-market vehicles at affordable prices. The Alliance aims to develop connectivity technologies and features to support the launch of more than 10 vehicles with autonomous driving technology by 2020 with services to maximize better use of newly found in-car free time.

Renault-Nissan will continuously develop and launch new connected services and applications that make it easier for people to stay connected to work, entertainment and social networks, and offer vehicle centric services that will simplify and enhance engagement with the car through usage-based information, remote access, remote diagnostics and preventive maintenance

Microsoft Azure provides a proven, secure global cloud platform with unlimited scale that allows Renault-Nissan to deliver services worldwide to its broad customer base.

Renault-Nissan selected Azure in part because of its enterprise-grade security and Microsoft’s rigorous commitment to compliance. In addition, Azure supports multiple operating systems, programming languages and tools, providing flexibility and choice to build a common platform for Renault-Nissan to deploy services to both Alliance brands.

“While the connected car experience is in its infancy, we believe there’s so much potential to dramatically change the industry. We are partnering to accelerate Renault-Nissan’s mobile and cloud strategies and unlock new experiences for their customers,” said Jean-Philippe Courtois, executive vice president and president, Microsoft Global Sales, Marketing and Operations, Microsoft. “Renault-Nissan is an exceptional partner thanks to its global presence and range of brands, which enable it to bring entirely new mobile and digital experiences to so many people. This collaboration will bring a new standard to connected cars.”

Focus on next-generation technologies

The partnership will accelerate development of best-in-class infotainment and location-based services that will:

Allow customers to personalize and protect their settings: Customers will be able to customize their settings knowing that data is safe and that they have the option to transfer the settings from one car to another, or lock them and disable transfer. By adding a driver-centric experience in the car, the drive becomes personal and allows for things like adaptive route suggestions and advanced navigation.

Productivity: With Microsoft, Renault-Nissan will expand the realm of productivity into the car – transforming the daily commute into a productive experience by seamlessly integrating the digital experiences present at work and life into the car.

Give access to over-the-air updates: Customers will be able to download over-the-air updates to, for example, have the latest autonomous drive software and collision-avoidance applications.

Help customers stay in touch: Customers will be able to easily check in and communicate their estimated time of arrival, or alert friends to a change of plans. They will also be able to use automatic payment from the car for highway tolls or parking, with a simple touch from the comfort of their seat.

Monitor the car from a distance: Car owners will be able to monitor their car from anywhere, through their mobile phone or laptop. They could transfer control to a friend or relative who needs their car – without transferring physical keys. They will use a mobile application that helps them find the car, can trigger remote charging and preconditioning and lock and unlock the car.

Protect the vehicle: Tracking software locates a stolen car and disables it at the next practical opportunity. “Geofencing” technology creates invisible fences around the car that will enable notifications when the car enters or exits a predefined area or route.

Improve the vehicle experience: By adding connectivity, customers will be able to have access to advance vehicle diagnostic services, allowing the car manufacturer to deliver unique features. Collecting real usage data will also support vehicle engineering to improve manufacturing quality.

Cars

Why sports cars make us feel good

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Forget romance, fine dining or an epic boxset binge – new preliminary research reveals that driving a sports car on a daily basis is among the best ways to boost your sense of wellbeing and emotional fulfilment.

The study measured “buzz moments” – peak thrills that play a vital role in our overall wellness – as volunteers cheered on their favourite football team, watched a gripping Game of Thrones episode, enjoyed a passionate kiss with a loved one or took an intense salsa dancing class. Only the occasional highs of riding a roller coaster ranked higher than the daily buzz of a commute in a sports car.

Working with neuroscientists and designers, Ford brought the research to life with the unique Ford Performance Buzz Car: a customised Ford Focus RS incorporating wearable and artificial intelligence technology to animate the driver’s emotions in real time across the car’s exterior. 

Watch the video here https://youtu.be/AFpt6jziFsU

“A roller coaster may be good for a quick thrill, but it’s not great for getting you to work every day,” said Dr Harry Witchel, Discipline Leader in Physiology. “This study shows how driving a performance car does much more than get you from A to B – it could be a valuable part of your daily wellbeing routine.”

Study participants who sat behind the wheel of a Ford Focus RS, Focus ST or Mustang experienced an average of 2.1 high-intensity buzz moments during a typical commute; this compared with an average of 3 buzz moments while riding on a roller coaster, 1.7 while on a shopping trip, 1.5 each while watching a Game of Thrones episode or a football match, and none at all while salsa dancing, fine dining or sharing a passionate kiss. 

For the research, Ford took one Focus RS and worked with Designworks to create the Buzz Car:

From concept, design and installation to software development and programming, the Buzz Car took 1,400 man-hours to create. Each “buzz moment” experienced by the driver – analysed using a real-time “emotional AI” system developed by leading empathic technology firm Sensum – produces a dazzling animation across almost 200,000 LED lights integrated into the car. The Buzz Car also features:

  • High-performance Zotac VR GO gaming PC
  • 110 x 500-lumen daylight-bright light strips
  • 82 display panels with 188,416 individually addressable LEDs

Driver state research

Researchers at the Ford Research and Innovation Center in Aachen, Germany are already looking into how vehicles can better understand and respond to drivers’ emotions. As part of the EUfunded ADAS&ME project, Ford experts are investigating how in-car systems may one day be aware of our emotions – as well as levels of stress, distraction and fatigue – providing prompts and warnings, and could even take control of the car in emergency situations.

“We think driving should be an enjoyable, emotional experience,” said Dr Marcel Mathissen, research scientist at Ford of Europe. “The driver-state research Ford and its partners are undertaking is helping to lead us towards safer roads and – importantly – healthier driving.”

Activity Buzz Moments *
Roller Coaster 3
Driving 2.1
Shopping 1.7
Game of Thrones 1.5
Football Game 1.5
Kissing 0
Salsa Dancing 0
Dining 0

* Average number of high-intensity buzz moments per participant

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Car that sees round corners

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Jaguar Land Rover is leading a £4.7 million (approximately R79 million) project to develop self-driving cars that can ‘see’ at blind junctions and through obstacles.

Britain’s biggest carmaker is leading a project called AutopleX to combine connected, automated and live mapping tech so more information is provided earlier to the self-driving car. This enables automated cars to communicate with all road users and obstacles where there is no direct view, effectively helping them see, so they can safely merge lanes and negotiate complex roundabouts autonomously.

Chris Holmes, Connected and Autonomous Vehicle Research Manager at Jaguar Land Rover said: “This project is crucial in order to bring self-driving cars to our customers in the near future. Together with our AutopleX partners, we will merge our connected and autonomous research to empower our self-driving vehicles to operate safely in the most challenging, real-world traffic situations. This project will ensure we deliver the most sophisticated and capable automated driving technology.”

Jaguar Land Rover is developing fully- and semi-automated vehicle technologies, offering customers a choice of an engaged or automated drive, while maintaining an enjoyable and safe driving experience. The company’s vision is to make the self-driving car viable in the widest range of real-life, on- and off-road driving environments and weather.

AutopleX will develop the technology through simulation and public road testing both on motorways and in urban environments in the West Midlands. Highways England, INRIX, Ricardo, Siemens, Transport for West Midlands and WMG at the University of Warwick join the AutopleX consortium, which was announced as part of Innovate UK’s third round of Connected and Autonomous Vehicle Funding in March 2018.

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