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Now your car pays for you

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Jaguar drivers can now use their car’s touchscreen to pay for fuel with a new cashless payment app.

The Shell app is one of several new enhancements to Jaguar’s F-PACE, XE and XF models. Other updates include the introduction of the latest efficient Ingenium petrol and diesel engines and the addition of convenience features such as gesture technology where the sweep of a foot can open the boot.

Rather than using a card at the pump, or queuing in the forecourt shop, owners who install the Shell app can simply drive up to any pump at a Shell service station (initially in the UK and then globally) and use the vehicle’s touchscreen to select how much fuel they require and pay using PayPal or Apple Pay. Android Pay will be added later in 2017.

An electronic receipt will be displayed on the touchscreen, so customers can leave the forecourt confident of having paid. A receipt will also be sent directly from the pump to the driver’s email address so it can be added to accounting or expenses software.

“In a world where cash is no longer king, customers are increasingly using electronic payments and contactless cards,” said Peter Virk, Jaguar Land Rover’s Director of Connected Car and Future Technology. “Making a payment directly from a car’s touchscreen will make refuelling quicker and easier. With this new system you can choose any pump on the forecourt and pay for the fuel even if you’ve forgotten your wallet or can’t find your credit or debit card.”

“You will save time because there’s no more queuing to pay in a shop, and for drivers with children, it won’t be necessary to wake them up, or unstrap them from their seats to take them into the shop. Expenses and tax returns will also be made much simpler, with no receipts to lose as these will all be sent electronically.”

Unlike current phone-based payment methods, Shell and Jaguar Land Rover have created a simple but secure customer experience that uses geolocation technology and a cloud based pre-payment check with the Paypal or Apple Pay wallet.

“As the world’s number one global fuels retailer, this e-commerce collaboration with Jaguar Land Rover is part of Shell’s commitment to continuously improve the digital experience for our customers at the forecourt,” said David Bunch, Global Vice President Shell Retail Marketing and Chairman, Shell Brands International. “In 2015 Shell introduced mobile payments at the pump in the UK. Today we are proud to offer the next step in cashless motoring, with Jaguar and Land Rover customers in the UK paying for their fuel using the car’s touchscreen. With around 30 million customers every day, we have a mission to continuously find ways to make our customer’s journey’s better. We look forward to further exciting developments like this across our 43,000 sites around the world soon.”

The Shell app with in-car cashless payments will be available to download from 15 February and will be rolled out to additional markets globally during 2017 and 2018 – including South Africa.

“We are working with leaders in e-commerce such as Shell to enable our customers to enjoy cashless motoring via their car’s touchscreen. Whether it’s paying for fuel, parking, tolls, or even at a drive-through restaurant, the aim of cashless motoring is to make life easier for our customers,” said Virk. “Our technology allows users to put their phone away out of sight and use it via the touchscreen in the car, because as the car becomes more connected to the Internet of Things, we will always be guided by what is appropriate and safe to do while driving. So in-car payments would only be enabled when it is safe to do so, preventing unnecessary driver distractions.”

 

2018 model year Jaguar F-PACE, XF and XE

The new in-car cashless payment app will be available across the enhanced Jaguar F-PACE performance SUV, F-TYPE and XF and XE sports sedan model ranges, as well as the latest Land Rover models.

The enhancements to the 2018 model year (MY) F-PACE and XF include the introduction of two new higher-output engines, the 177kW diesel Ingenium engine and the advanced new 183kW Ingenium petrol engine join the line-up.

For 2018MY, the XE sports sedan is available with a 183kW automatic derivative of the new four-cylinder Ingenium petrol engine, giving customers greater choice than ever. Drivers looking for even more dynamic performance can opt for the upgraded XE S, with its thrilling 280kW, 3.0-litre V6 engine – up from 250kW – shared with the F-TYPE sports car.

Both the enhanced XE and XF sports sedans are available with Gesture Boot Lid functionality, making loading and unloading more convenient, while Jaguar’s Configurable Dynamics technology is introduced as a standalone feature on both vehicles, allowing drivers to personalise the gearshift, throttle response and steering settings.

A virtual 12.3-inch TFT instrument cluster with full-screen 3D navigation and the availability of Dual View touchscreen technology also provides customers with added convenience as part of the updates.

Cars

Project Bloodhound saved

The British project to break the world landspeed record at a site in the Northern Cape has been saved by a new backer, after it went into bankruptcy proceedings in October.

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Two weeks ago,  and two months after entering voluntary administration, the Bloodhound Programme Limited announced it was shutting down. This week it announced that its assets, including the Bloodhound Supersonic Car (SSC), had been acquired by an enthusiastic – and wealthy – supporter.

“We are absolutely delighted that on Monday 17th December, the business and assets were bought, allowing the Project to continue,” the team said in a statement.

“The acquisition was made by Yorkshire-based entrepreneur Ian Warhurst. Ian is a mechanical engineer by training, with a strong background in managing a highly successful business in the automotive engineering sector, so he will bring a lot of expertise to the Project.”

Warhurst and his family, says the team, have been enthusiastic Bloodhound supporters for many years, and this inspired his new involvement with the Project.

“I am delighted to have been able to safeguard the business and assets preventing the project breakup,” he said. “I know how important it is to inspire young people about science, technology, engineering and maths, and I want to ensure Bloodhound can continue doing that into the future.

“It’s clear how much this unique British project means to people and I have been overwhelmed by the messages of thanks I have received in the last few days.”

The record attempt was due to be made late next year at Hakskeen Pan in the Kalahari Desert, where retired pilot Andy Green planned to beat the 1228km/h land-speed record he set in the United States in 1997. The target is for Bloodhound to become the first car to reach 1000mph (1610km/h). A track 19km long and 500 metres wide has been prepared, with members of the local community hired to clear 16 000 tons of rock and stone to smooth the surface.

The team said in its announcement this week: “Although it has been a frustrating few months for Bloodhound, we are thrilled that Ian has saved Bloodhound SSC from closure for the country and the many supporters around the world who have been inspired by the Project. We now have a lot of planning to do for 2019 and beyond.”

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Motor Racing meets Machine Learning

The futuristic car technology of tomorrow is being built today in both racing cars and
toys, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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The car of tomorrow, most of us imagine, is being built by the great automobile manufacturers of the world. More and more, however, we are seeing information technology companies joining the race to power the autonomous vehicle future.

Last year, chip-maker Intel paid $15.3-billion to acquire Israeli company Mobileye, a leader in computer vision for autonomous driving technology. Google’s autonomous taxi division, Waymo, has been valued at $45-billion.

Now there’s a new name to add to the roster of technology giants driving the future.

DeepRacer on the inside

Amazon Web Services, the world’s biggest cloud computing service and a subsidiary of Amazon.com,  last month unveiled a scale model autonomous racing car for developers to build new artificial intelligence applications. Almost in the same breath, at its annual re:Invent conference in Las Vegas, it showcased the work being done with machine learning in Formula 1 racing.

AWS DeepRacer is a 1/18th scale fully autonomous race car, designed to incorporate the features and behaviour of a full-sized vehicle. It boasts all-wheel drive, monster truck tires, an HD video camera, and on-board computing power. In short, everything a kid would want of a self-driving toy car.

But then, it also adds everything a developer would need to make the car autonomous in ways that, for now, can only be imagined. It uses a new form of machine learning (ML), the technology that allows computer systems to improve their functions progressively as they receive feedback from their activities. ML is at the heart of artificial intelligence (AI), and will be core to autonomous, self-driving vehicles.

AWS has taken ML a step further, with an approach called reinforcement learning. This allows for quicker development of ML models and applications, and DeepRacer is designed to allow developers to experiment with and hone their skill in this area. It is built on top of another AWS platform, called Amazon SageMaker, which enables developers and data scientists to build, train, and deploy machine learning quickly and easily.

Along with DeepRacer, AWS also announced the DeepRacer League, the world’s first global autonomous racing league, open to anyone who orders the scale model from AWS.

DeepRacer on the outside

As if to prove that DeepRacer is not just a quirky entry into the world of motor racing, AWS also showcased the work it is doing with the Formula One Group. Ross Brawn, Formula 1’s managing director of Motor Sports, joined AWS CEO Andy Jassy during the keynote address at the re:Invent conference, to demonstrate how motor racing meets machine learning.

“More than a million data points a second are transmitted between car and team during a Formula 1 race,” he said. “From this data, we can make predictions about what we expect to happen in a wheel-to-wheel situation, overtaking advantage, and pit stop advantage. ML can help us apply a proper analysis of a situation, and also bring it to fans.

“Formula 1 is a complete team contest. If you look at a video of tyre-changing in a pit stop – it takes 1.6 seconds to change four wheels and tyres – blink and you will miss it. Imagine the training that goes into it? It’s also a contest of innovative minds.”

AWS CEO Andy Jassy unveils DeepRacer

Formula 1 racing has more than 500 million global fans and generated $1.8 billion in revenue in 2017. As a result, there are massive demands on performance, analysis and information. 

During a race, up to 120 sensors on each car generate up to 3GB of data and 1 500 data points – every second. It is impossible to analyse this data on the fly without an ML platform like Amazon SageMaker. It has a further advantage: the data scientists are able to incorporate 65 years of historical race data to compare performance, make predictions, and provide insights into the teams’ and drivers’ split-second decisions and strategies.

This means Formula 1 can pinpoint how a driver is performing and whether or not drivers have pushed themselves over the limit.

“By leveraging Amazon SageMaker and AWS’s machine-learning services, we are able to deliver these powerful insights and predictions to fans in real time,” said Pete Samara, director of innovation and digital technology at Formula 1.

  • Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @art2gee and on YouTube

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