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City versus Car: How everything will change

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Ever-increasing urbanisation and the demand for development of cities is the catalyst needed to bridge both the greatest challenges and most creative solutions for a future of automotive sector, writes TREVOR HILL, head of Audi South Africa.

Ever-increasing urbanisation and the subsequent demand for development of cities is the catalyst needed to bridge both the greatest challenges and most creative solutions for a future of automotive sector. What we face now is undoubtedly the next automotive revolution.

And, it makes sense.

The city is where human life is expected to take the most significant quantum leap. Associated with this, is demand for technology that keeps (or even exceeds) the pace of how society will itself expect to be mobile.

According to McKinsey, Africa is urbanising faster than any other region – where cities are projected to gain an estimated 24-million more people each year until 2045. If the McKinsey numbers stack up, then it follows course that as an automotive sector our own investment in technology and innovation must adapt at a faster pace to meet what will be changing mobility demands.

The most logical question is, how?

For Audi, this starts with the integration of the car and its environment, especially as physical car ownership is expected to decline over time. Critical to this is an appreciation that ownership is not necessarily an indication of slower mobility demand, but rather points to the need to drive progress around innovation in the mobility space. Our work through the Audi Urban Future Initiative is just such a case in point. The initiative is an internal, interdepartmental think tank dedicated to issues of urban mobility.

The city and the car have been interacting for generations, but this latest phase of their evolution is different. Instead of urban planners designing cities around the automobile, engineers and developers are now designing cars around the functionality of the city.

With this in mind, Audi has pushed ahead with cooperation agreements with Boston and Mexico City, where we are working in partnership with local government to explore how Audi innovation technologies can be applied in an urban environment to trigger maximum benefit for both residents and businesses.

In the Boston metropolitan area, Audi is testing the advantages of its new technologies for the city in two different pilot projects. In the transformation of the city centre, car-to-X technologies will improve the traffic flow; while at the same time – automated parking will contribute to creating more space for other modes of traffic. In addition to this, Audi is working with the real-estate developers to combine the benefits of automated parking and smart fleet management.

The third Audi Urban Partnership is a joint project in Santa Fe, one of the leading business districts in Mexico City. Here, Audi is working with the association of the business district to develop ways to end permanent traffic congestion.All three projects profile the successes of our investment in technology and our ability to adapt to changing demands that will respond to the next automotive revolution.

This paradigm shift towards mobility that is compatible with the city will eventually make for an intelligent, sustainable and liveable city with zero emissions and networked traffic that flows easily. And at the heart of this new concept will be the individual, accessing mobility in the way most convenient to him or her, in harmony with the city, the environment and other road users.

As automakers, we are privileged to be at the apex of this pivotal innovation moment, where digitalization, sustainability and urbanization come together for our next great leap forward. While we are synonymous with making cars, we are also reinventing the way cars are used. In the future, many will choose not to own their cars, but to access them on demand.

Part of the newly defined future will be machine learning, where a computer, in our case the car operating system, learns from specific situations, and can later handle unforeseen events. The more miles it clocks, the better it becomes. At Audi, we have already developed a model car that uses machine learning for intelligent parking strategies. In the next step, we will transfer that to a real car.

Indeed, the car of the near future will be constantly collecting masses of data to facilitate automated driving in a type of traffic swarm intelligence. One car on its own knows little; many cars know a lot. Each individual car can help enhance the overall performance of all cars by providing data via the cloud.

Carmakers are finding solutions for many of cities’ greatest challenges. Electric mobility will – for example – reduce emissions. Self-parking cars will cut the space needed for parking, freeing up room to improve the quality of urban life. Intelligent car interfaces with traffic light information will optimise traffic flow.

With the legacy mobility model, having caused many of the environmental issues we currently face, a reinvention according to principles of artificial intelligence and connectivity could make city living more efficient and more enjoyable while also helping to put life on earth on a more sustainable path

The trigger to a smart future mobility system is one that benefits all stakeholders. For Audi, urbanisation is a vital source for future business solutions. That’s why it has become a central part in our corporate strategy. It is something that we are gearing our business and our cars towards and something we are excited to share with our customers in the places they live, work and shop.

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Auto rivals team up for connected car demo

Rivals BMW, Ford and Groupe PSA, maker of Peugeot and Opel cars, have teamed up with the 5G Automotive Association (5GAA), Qualcomm Technologies and Savari for Europe’s first live demonstration of C-V2X direct communication technology operating across vehicles from multiple auto manufacturers.

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The live demonstration also featured a live showcase of C-V2X direct communication technology operating between passenger cars, motorcycles, and roadside infrastructure. C-V2X is a global solution for vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communication in support of improved automotive safety, automated driving and traffic efficiency.

The demonstration exhibited the road safety and traffic efficiency benefits of using C-V2X for Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) collision avoidance, as well as Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) connectivity to traffic signals and Traffic Management Centers (TMC). C-V2X was operated using real-time direct communications over ITS spectrum and demonstrated its ability to work without cellular network coverage, and underscores its commercial readiness for industry deployment as early as 2020. Superior performance and cost-effectiveness compared to other V2X technologies, along with forward-compatibility with 5G, make C-V2X direct communications a preferred solution for C-ITS applications.

Six demonstrations were shown including: Emergency Electronic Brake Light, Intersection Collision Warning, Across Traffic Turn Collision Risk Warning, Slow Vehicle Warning and Stationary Vehicle Warning, Signal Phase and Timing / Signal Violation Warning and Vulnerable Road User (pedestrian) Warning. The vehicles involved included two-wheel e-scooters provided by BMW Group, and automotive passenger vehicles provided by Ford, Groupe PSA, and BMW Group, all of which were equipped with C-V2X direct communication technology using the Qualcomm® 9150 C-V2X chipset solution.  V2X software stack and application software, along with roadside infrastructure, were provided by industry leader, Savari.

C-V2X is globally supported by a broad automotive ecosystem, which includes the fast growing 5GAA organization.  The 5GAA involves over 85 global members comprised of many leading automakers, Tier-1 suppliers, software developers, mobile operators, semiconductor companies, test equipment vendors, telecom suppliers, traffic signal suppliers and road operators.  

Cellular modems will be key to the C-V2X deployment in vehicles to support telematics, eCall, connected infotainment and delivering useful driving/traffic/parking information. As C-V2X direct communication functionality is integrated into the cellular modem, C-V2X solutions are expected to be more cost-efficient and economical over competing technologies, and benefit from accelerated attach rates.  C-V2X direct communication field validations are currently underway in Germany, France, Korea, China, Japan and the U.S.

C-V2X currently stands as the only V2X technology based on globally recognized 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) specifications, with ongoing evolution designed to offer forward compatibility with 5G.  C-V2X also leverages and reuses the upper layer protocols defined by the automotive industry, including the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) organization. C-V2X includes two complementary transmission modes: 

  • Direct communication as shown in this demonstration for V2V and V2I use cases
  • V2N network communication, which leverages mobile operators for connectivity and delivers cloud-based services, including automated crash notification (ACN, as mandated by eCall), hazard warnings, weather conditions, green light optimal speed advisory (GLOSA), parking spot location, and remote tele-operation to support automated driving, to name a few.

“This demonstration builds on the successful C-V2X showcase we organised with our members Audi, Ford and Qualcomm in Washington DC in April, said Christoph Voigt, Chairman of 5GAA.

“We are excited to witness the growing momentum behind this life-saving technology and to see our members working together to deploy C-V2X, and to make it hit the road as soon as possible.”  

“The BMW Group introduced the first C-ITS use cases already in 2013 with the market introduction of the BMW i3. Today most of envisaged C-ITS use-cases are already institutionalized. With the implementation of C-V2X, the BMW Group accomplishes the last set of the puzzle with a practical path to C-ITS showing quick benefits,” said Christoph Grote, Senior Vice President Electronics, BMW Group. 

“With its ability to safely and securely connect vehicles, along with its evolution into 5G, C-V2X is integral to Ford’s vision for future transportation in which all cars and infrastructure talk to each other,” said Thomas Lukaszewicz, Manager Automated Driving, Ford of Europe. “We are very encouraged by preliminary test results in Europe and elsewhere which support our belief that C-V2X direct communications has superior V2X communication capabilities.”

“We’re moving forward with seamless communication between cars and their environment for enhancing road safety, as well as our customers’ safety,” said Carla Gohin, Group PSA’s Vice President for Research and Advanced Engineering. “Following the first European C-V2X direct communications demonstration we hosted with Qualcomm Technologies last March, we’re pleased to work with leading automotive and technology companies today to highlight that C-V2X interoperability is a reality.” 

“This demonstration of interoperability between multiple automakers is not only another milestone achieved towards C-V2X deployment, but also further validates the commercial viability and global compatibility of C-V2X direct communications for connected vehicles,” said Enrico Salvatori, senior vice president & president, Qualcomm Europe and MEA. “We look forward in continuing to work alongside leaders in the automotive industry, like the 5GAA, BMW Group, Ford, Groupe PSA and Savari, to help advance the automotive industry’s shift towards a safer, connected and more autonomous future.” 

“As one of the V2X pioneers, our company is extremely pleased to continue to help enable the next step in the V2X revolution that we helped start back in 2008,” said Ravi Puvvala, CEO of Savari. “For the last year and a half, the Savari team has worked diligently alongside the dedicated C-V2X engineers in the 5GAA partnership. The resulting string of increasingly impressive demonstrations is continuing to convince the world that C-V2X will soon be deployed around the world.”

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Fleet management in 360

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An on-board dual camera system from global fleet management vehicle recovery and insurance telematics provider, Cartrack, reduces the costs of managing vehicle fleets, while creating new ways to motivate drivers and improve their on-the-road performance.

Historically, commercial drivers within fleets have been far removed from active management and oversight, with limited tools available in helping fleet owners understand how their drivers actually behave on the road. This lack of visual tracking ability has seen fleet managers struggle to achieve meaningful driver skills development, while also leaving companies vulnerable to poor operational performance and financial losses resulting from accidents.

Cartrack’s Drive Vision system is dramatically changing this status quo.

Drive Vision is an on-board dual camera system that records video footage with a 120-degree exterior view of the road ahead, and a 160-degree view inside the vehicle cab. Not only can fleet managers actively monitor all the footage that they wish, the system also records specific events such as speeding, harsh braking or an unforeseen action from a third-party.

Drive Vision’s video is continuously captured and then made available to users in two ways. The footage is either buffered in the unit’s memory card for up to five days, and selected time slots can be downloaded by the user via a web interface. Alternatively, footage is also automatically downloaded to the system when specific events occur, such as speeding or a collision.  The captured footage is stored at a web address and is immediately accessible to the client at any time. In addition, the data centre’s driver exception reporting mechanism can review the footage against a client’s pre-determined driver behaviour stipulations, creating a balanced and flexible driver performance assessment tool.

Cartrack CEO, Andre Ittmann, notes why Drive Vision is so useful for companies.

“There are two key strategic benefits to the technology.  Firstly, the company has a clear visual record of events in the case of an accident or legal dispute. Achieving this kind of detailed view hasn’t been possible before, and it can dramatically reduce the costs around incidents and accidents, on an ongoing basis. Secondly, Drive Vision is a highly functional, event-based coaching system. It therefore allows fleet managers to develop a culture that rewards excellent or improved performance, while also giving them the power to actively close skills gaps. “

Ittmann also notes that fleet video footage allows the company to monitor and manage aspects of its service and market performance, including the driver’s ability to access a work site, thereby ensuring timeous arrivals at designated locations and the ability to oversee passenger count and conduct.

Ittmann concludes that Drive Vision offers untold long-term advantages for companies.

“Beyond simply gaining a more efficient means to discipline errant drivers, Drive Vision also empowers fleet managers to proactively implement measures that will result in long-term benefits for their company. Ultimately, the company can also reduce costs related to driver mismanagement while simultaneously improving a driver’s skills and their performance on the road.”

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