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Merc joins the battery push

A new interactive sculpture in Cape Town symbolises rapid advances in car technology, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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First there was IQ, or intelligence quotient, to test how clever we are. Then came EQ, for emotional intelligence, to test how well we engage with the world. Now, Mercedes Benz is introducing a new form of EQ, for electric intelligence, or how well our cars prepare us for the future.

That will be the branding for a new range of vehicles being developed now by the world’s leading luxury vehicle maker, as it aims to drive automotive technology beyond connected and self-driving cars.

Last week, it unveiled the Concept EQA, a compact, sporty electric car that is expected to have a range of 400km on one charge. It has one electric motor on the front axle and one at the rear, allowing for greater flexibility in driving settings. More important, though, it will have zero carbon emissions, and is part of Mercedes-Benz’s push into the electric car market.

According to Johannes Fritz, the company’s co-CEO in South Africa, battery-electric models will account for 15-25 percent of total unit sales by 2025. The big variation in forecasts is a result of uncertainty around both customer preferences and public infrastructure. 

Johannes Fritz, Mercedes-Benz South Africa co-CEO.

The common perception is that the lack of government interest in an electric vehicle future will hamper roll-out of a charging network, and that lack of public interest means there is little incentive for car makers to increase production.

To counter this perception, and advance its vision of EQ, Mercedes-Benz combined the unveiling of the Concept EQA with the opening of a unique pavilion at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town.

Continue reading about the electric vehicle push in South Africa. 

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Cars

Cars connect to traffic lights

New Jaguar Land Rover technology using Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2X) connects cars to traffic lights so drivers can avoid getting stuck at red and help free up traffic flow in cities.

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The world’s first traffic lights were installed exactly 150 years ago outside the Houses of Parliament in London. Since then drivers around the globe have spent billions of hours waiting for green. With Jaguar Land Rover’s latest tech, however, their days could be numbered.

The Green Light Optimal Speed Advisory (GLOSA) system allows cars to “talk” to traffic lights and inform the driver the speed they should drive as they approach junctions or signals.

Widespread adoption of the V2X technology will prevent drivers from racing to beat the lights and improve air quality by reducing harsh acceleration or braking near lights. The goal is for the V2X revolution to create free-flowing cities with fewer delays and less commuter stress.

The connected technology is currently being trialed on a Jaguar F-PACE, as part of a £20 million (R371 million) collaborative research project.

Like all Jaguar or Land Rover vehicles today, the F-PACE already boasts a wide range of sophisticated Advanced Driver Assistance (ADAS) features. The connected technology trials are enhancing existing ADAS features by increasing the line of sight of a vehicle when it is connected via the internet to other vehicles and infrastructure. GLOSA is being tested alongside a host of other measures to slash the time commuters spend in traffic.

For example, Intersection Collision Warning (ICW) alerts drivers when it is unsafe to proceed at a junction. ICW informs drivers if other cars are approaching from another road and can suggest the order in which cars should proceed at a junction.

Jaguar Land Rover has also addressed time lost to searching for a parking space by providing real-time information of available spaces to drivers and developed an Emergency Vehicle Warning to alert motorists when a fire engine, police car or ambulance is approaching. The advanced technology builds on the connected systems already available on the Jaguar F-PACE such as Adaptive Cruise Control.

Oriol Quintana-Morales, Jaguar Land Rover Connected Technology Research Engineer, said: “This cutting-edge technology will radically reduce the time we waste at traffic lights. It has the potential to revolutionise driving by creating safe, free-flowing cities that take the stress out of commuting. Our research is motivated by the chance to make future journeys as comfortable and stress-free as possible for all our customers.”

The trials are part of the £20 million government-funded project, UK Autodrive, which has helped accelerate the development of Jaguar Land Rover’s future self-driving and connected technology. As well as strengthening the Midlands’ position as a hub of mobility innovation. Britain’s biggest car maker, headquartered in Coventry, is working on connected technology as part of its pledge to deliver zero accidents, zero congestion and zero emissions.

Connected technology will link the vehicle to everything around it, allowing seamless, free-flowing traffic that will pave the way for delivering self-driving vehicles.

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Cars

Roborace reveals new vehicle

Roborace has given its fans a first look at what the new competition vehicle for Season Alpha will look like at the WebSummmit conference in Lisbon, Portugal.

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DevBot 2.0 utilizes sensors similar to that in Robocar and is also fully electric, but has the addition of a cockpit for a human driver.

Season Alpha will see teams comprising of both a human driver and an AI driver. Lap times from the duo will be compared with that of other human + machine teams to determine a winner.

DevBot 2.0 will be launched in the new year but Roborace CEO Lucas Di Grassi has shared some first glimpses of what 2019 holds for the series in an interview on stage at WebSummit.

Season Alpha will see teams compete starting in Spring 2019 using the DevBot 2.0 vehicles to develop their automated driving systems, with professional drivers teaching the AI how to improve, as well as learning from the AI how to better their own performance.

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