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

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

Two-thirds of adults ready for cars that drive themselves

The latest Looking Further with Ford Trends Report reveals that behaviour is changing across key areas of our lives

Self-driving cars are a hot topic today, but if you had to choose, would you rather your children ride in an autonomous vehicle or drive with a stranger? You may be surprised to learn that 67 per cent of adults globally would opt for the self-driving car.

That insight is one of many revealed in the 2019 Looking Further with Ford Trend Report, released last week. The report takes a deep look into the drivers of behavioural change, specifically uncovering the dynamic relationships consumers have with the shifting landscape of technology.

Change is not always easy, particularly when it is driven by forces beyond our control. In a global survey of 14 countries, Ford’s research revealed that 87 per cent of adults believe technology is the biggest driver of change. And while 79 per cent of adults maintain that technology is a force for good, there are large segments of the population that have significant concerns. Some are afraid of artificial intelligence (AI). Others fear the impact of technology on our emotional wellbeing.

“Individually and collectively, these behavioural changes can take us from feeling helpless to feeling empowered, and unleash a world of wonder, hope and progress,” says Kuda Takura, smart mobility specialist at Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa. “At Ford we are deeply focused on human-centric design and are committed to finding mobility solutions that help improve the lives of consumers and their communities. In the context of change, we have to protect what we consider most valuable – having a trusted relationship with our customers. So, we are always deliberate and thoughtful about how we navigate change.”

Key insights from Ford’s 7th annual Trends Report:

Almost half of people around the world believe that fear drives change
Seven in 10 say that they are energised by change
87 per cent agree that technology is the biggest driver of today’s change
Eight in 10 citizens believe that technology is a force for good
45 per cent of adults globally report that they envy people who can disconnect from their devices
Seven out of 10 consumers agree that we should have a mandatory time-out from our devices

Click here to read more about the seven trends for 2019.

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At last, cars talk to traffic lights to catch ‘green wave’

By ANDRE HAINZLMAIER, head of development of apps, connected services and smart city at Audi.

Stop-and-go traffic in cities is annoying. By contrast, we are pleased when we have a “green wave” – but we catch them far too seldom, unfortunately. With the Traffic Light Information function, drivers are more in control. They drive more efficiently and are more relaxed because they know 250 meters ahead of a traffic light whether they will catch it on green. In the future, anonymized data from our cars can help to switch traffic lights in cities to better phases and to optimise the traffic flow.

In the USA, Audi customers have been using the “Time-to-Green” function for two years: if the driver will reach the lights on red, a countdown in the Audi virtual cockpit or head-up display counts the seconds to the next green phase. This service is now available at more than 5,000 intersections in the USA, for example in cities like Denver, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Portland and Washington D.C. In the US capital alone, about 1,000 intersections are linked to the Traffic Light Information function.

Since February, Audi has offered a further function in North America. The purpose of this is especially to enable driving on the “green wave”. “Green Light Optimized Speed Advisory” (GLOSA) shows to the driver in the ideal speed for reaching the next traffic light on green.

Both Time-to-Green and GLOSA will be activated for the start of operation in Ingolstadt in selected Audi models. These include all Audi e-tron models and the A4, A6, A7, A8, Q3, Q7 and Q8 to be produced from mid-July (“model year 2020”). The prerequisite is the “Audi connect Navigation & Infotainment” package and the optional “camera-based traffic sign recognition”.

Why is this function becoming available in Europe two years later than in the USA? 

The challenges for the serial introduction of the service are much greater here than, for example, in the USA, where urban traffic light systems were planned over a large area and uniformly. In Europe, by contrast, the traffic infrastructure has developed more locally and decentrally – with a great variety of traffic technology. How quickly other cities are connected to this technology depends above all on whether data standards and interfaces get established and cities digitalise their traffic lights.

On this project, Audi is working with Traffic Technology Services (TTS). TTS prepares the raw data from city traffic management centres and transmits them to the Audi servers. From here, the information reaches the car via a fast Internet connection.

Audi is working to offer Traffic Light Information in further cities in Germany, Europe, Canada and the USA in the coming years. In the large east Chinese city of Wuxi, Audi and partners are testing networks between cars and traffic light systems in the context of a development project.

In future, Audi customers may be able to benefit from additional functions, for example when “green waves” are incorporated into the ideal route planning. It is also conceivable that Audi e-tron models, when cruising up to a red traffic light, will make increased used of braking energy in order to charge their batteries. Coupled with predictive adaptive cruise control (pACC), the cars could even brake automatically at red lights.

In the long term, urban traffic will benefit. When cars send anonymised data to the city, for example, traffic signals could operate more flexibly. Every driver knows the following situation: in the evening you wait at a red light – while no other car is to be seen far and wide. Networked traffic lights would then react according to demand. Drivers of other automotive brands will also profit from the development work that Audi is carrying out with Traffic Light Information – good news for cities, which are dependent on the anonymised data of large fleets to achieve the most efficient traffic management.

In future, V2I technologies like Traffic Light Information will facilitate automated driving. 

A city is one of the most complex environments for an autonomous car. Nevertheless, the vehicle has to be able to handle the situation, even in rain and snow. Data exchange with the traffic infrastructure can be highly relevant here. 

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