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This car responds to moods

Jaguar Land Rover is developing new AI technology to better understand changes in the driver’s mood while behind the wheel

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Jaguar Land Rover is researching new artificial intelligence (AI) technology to understand our state of mind while driving – and adjust cabin settings to improve driver wellbeing.

The technology uses a driver-facing camera and biometric sensing to monitor and evaluate the driver’s mood and adapt a host of cabin features, including the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, media and ambient lighting. The settings will be altered in response to the driver’s facial expressions to help tackle stress. Reports suggest 74 per cent of us admit to feeling stressed or overwhelmed every day*. 

The mood-detection system will use the latest AI techniques to continually adapt to nuances in the driver’s facial expressions and implement appropriate settings automatically. In time the system will learn a driver’s preference and make increasingly tailored adjustments.

Personalisation settings could include changing the ambient lighting to calming colours if the system detects the driver is under stress, selecting a favourite playlist if signs of weariness are identified, and lowering the temperature in response to yawning or other signs of tiring.

Jaguar Land Rover is also trialing similar technology for rear passengers, with a camera mounted in the headrest. If the system detects signs of tiredness, it could dim the lights, tint the windows and raise the temperature in the back, to help an occupant get to sleep.

Dr Steve Iley, Jaguar Land Rover Chief Medical Officer, said: “As we move towards a self-driving future, the emphasis for us remains as much on the driver as it ever has. By taking a holistic approach to the individual driver, and implementing much of what we’ve learnt from the advances in research around personal wellbeing over the last 10 or 15 years, we can make sure our customers remain comfortable, engaged and alert behind the wheel in all driving scenarios, even monotonous motorway journeys.”

The new mood–detection system is one of a suite of technologies that Jaguar Land Rover is exploring as part of its ‘tranquil sanctuary’ vision to improve the driving experience. Designed to create a sanctuary inside each of its luxury vehicles, the manufacturer is trialing a wide range of driver and passenger wellbeing features, to ensure occupants are as comfortable as possible whilst ensuring the driver remains mindful, alert and in control.

Mood-detection software is the next-generation of Jaguar Land Rover’s existing driver tracking technology. The Driver Condition Monitor, which is capable of detecting if a driver is starting to feel drowsy and will give an early warning to take a break, is available on all Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles. 

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Bloodhound land speed record attempt in SA back on track

The Bloodhound land speed record attempt is back on track, with the news that the team will be going to Hakskeen Pan in South Africa in October for high-speed testing.

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The Bloodhound land speed record attempt is back on track, with the news that the Bloodhound team will be going to Hakskeen Pan in South Africa in October 2019 for high-speed testing.

The plans were confirmed at a press conference last week by Bloodhound LSR CEO Ian Warhurst.

“I’m thrilled that we can announce Bloodhound’s first trip to South Africa for these high-speed testing runs,” he said

“This world land speed record campaign is unlike any other, with the opportunities opened up by digital technology that enabled the team to test the car’s design using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and that will allow us to gather and share data about the car’s performance in real-time.”

Why High-Speed Testing?
The Bloodhound LSR team says it has been hard at work preparing the car for these high-speed test runs, upgrading and changing many aspects of the car following successful low-speed test runs at Cornwall Airport Newquay in 2017.

It said in a newsletter last week: “We’ll be using the high speed runs to test the car’s performance and handling at much higher speeds. It will also be a full dress rehearsal for the overall record-breaking campaign. This will include developing operational procedures, perfecting our practices for desert working and testing radio communications.”

One of the most obvious changes to the car is the wheels, which have been swapped for the specially designed solid aluminium desert wheels.

Warhurst said: “We’re running the car on a brand new surface. The wheels have been designed specifically for this desert lake bed, but it will still be vital to test them at high speeds before making record speed runs.”

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Auto makers face ‘profit desert’ as tech spending accelerates

Massive spending on CASE (connected, autonomous, shared, electric) vehicles is about to meet sales stagnation.

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The automotive industry is about to enter a “profit desert” as it contends,simultaneously and for an extended period of time, with massive spending on “CASE” (connected, autonomous, shared, electric) vehicles, particularly for electric and autonomous vehicles, and with stagnation in key markets globally, including the United States. That’s according to new research, including an international consumer survey, from AlixPartners, the global consulting firm.

The AlixPartners analysis, which also addresses issues regarding financial performance, battery development, autonomous vehicles, automotive M&A, product-development strategies, dealers, and the aftermarket, finds that the average variable powertrain cost for battery electric vehicles (BEVs) is currently two-and-a-half times that of conventional powertrains, or about $16,000 per vehicle versus about $6,500 per vehicle. The research shows that these costs will come down over time, such as battery-pack costs likely falling 4% annually due to technological improvements and 7% annually due to economies of scale. However, challenging the industry during the intervening period is the finding that average industry sales globally per BEV model-line will be only 15% of historical levels as late as 2022—or only about 14,000 vehicles sold per model, versus approximately 90,000 units per model for traditionally-powered vehicles.

All told, the research finds that announced industry spending from 2019 through 2023 for electrification is $225 billion—roughly equal to the massive amount that all automakers globally combined spend on capital expenditures (CapEx) and research and development (R&D) in a year. On the supportive side of electric vehicles, a new consumer survey that’s part of the research finds that Americans seem to be quite open to them, with 14% saying that their next vehicle is likely to be a BEV, rising to 20% for how they think they’ll feel in 2025—and to 33% in 2030. However, the survey also finds that concerns about the costs of electric vehicles are up significantly from responses in a similar AlixPartners poll a year ago, with 41% of Americans citing costs as a top-three concern, up from 29% in last year’s survey.

Meanwhile, the AlixPartners research forecasts that the global auto market will grow at an annual rate of just 1.6% through 2026, and that this year sales in the all-important China market will fall dramatically, to 24.8 million units (from 27 million in 2018), while the US market is forecast to begin a cyclical downturn, falling to 16.9 million units this year (vs. 17.3 million in 2018), headed to a trough of around 15.1 million in 2021. And this global stagnation comes at a time, the study notes, when earnings-before-interest-and-tax (EBIT) margins for large automakers globally have fallen from 5.7% in 2017 to 4.6% last year, and when the return-on-capital-employed (ROCE) levels—an important measure of capital efficiency and long-term corporate resilience that includes all CASE investments—for automakers and suppliers alike are approaching Great Recession levels: 2.8% for automakers globally last year, down from 3.6% in 2017, and 4.9% for suppliers, down from 5.8%.

Among the other findings in the study:

  • The European market is forecast to be 20.4 million units this year, down from 20.6 million in 2018, and is predicted to grow 1.3% annually through 2026, while the market share for diesel-engine vehicles is forecast to continue to plummet, to just 10% in 2030.
  • Spending on autonomous vehicles, by traditional industry players and newcomers alike, is forecast to grow to a cumulative $85 billion through 2025—on top of spending for electric vehicles.
  • On the M&A front, though down a bit from 2017, the portion of closed deals last year related to CASE rose to 55%, worth $21 billion, up from 50% in 2017.
  • When electric-vehicle adoption does eventually kick in, dealers could see $1,300 less revenue in service and parts over the life each BEV they sell, as 35% of today’s scheduled maintenance costs will be moot.
  • And as autonomous technologies mature, the collision aftermarket could shrink by 6% from 2025 to 2030.

Mark Wakefield, global co-leader of the Automotive and Industrial Practice at AlixPartners and a managing director at the firm, said: “This industry is about to enter what could be a multi-year profit desert, as spending on new mobility ramps up massively just as key markets around the world stagnate or fall. Whether players emerge on the other side of this desert, and what kind of shape they’re in, will be determined by the action they take in the next few months to proactively transform their investment approaches and operations.”

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