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Tyre brand pushes automated driving

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Continental is presenting its building blocks on the road to automated driving at the IAA 2015 in Frankfurt, as part of its ‘Vision Zero’ concept, which aims to eliminate traffic accidents.

“We are working on being able to offer affordable mobility, with three key aspects: zero road traffic accidents, clean air, and intelligent vehicles with added convenience,” explained Dr. Elmar Degenhart, chairman of the Continental Executive Board, on the occasion of the International Motor Show. Continental is one of the leading pioneers of connected and automated driving.

“Our work makes us pioneers when it comes to fully automated driving. The technology for this is getting closer and closer to being ready for use on the road. This is why we welcome the establishment of digital test areas, such as those approved or planned in various German states.

“It is now high time for lawmakers to lay the legislative groundwork for the everyday use of automated driving,” urged Degenhart. “After all, an important step when it comes to highly automated driving – on freeways, for example – is to establish a legal framework so that drivers no longer have to constantly monitor the situation on the road.”

Work is also underway at Continental on several autonomous – and thus driverless – driving features, particularly with a view to implementing convenient parking systems. The technology corporation will be showcasing its extremely practical Surround View camera system for this at the IAA.

The six challenges of automated driving

“We are developing the necessary components and systems for automated driving worldwide – in the USA as well as in Japan, China, and Germany. Our engineers are tackling six key challenges: sensor technology, cluster connectivity, human-machine dialogue, system architecture, reliability, and the acceptance of automated driving,” said Degenhart, describing the company’s automated driving work packages.

Sensor technology: Zero accidents are no longer a utopia. Advanced driver assistance systems with sensors can record the area around the vehicle just as well as humans, if not better. Rear-view mirrors can be replaced by camera systems, which not only increase safety, but also reduce CO2 emissions from cars and commercial vehicles. For the sensor fusion, and ultimately for evaluating the sensor data, Continental is researching the use of artificial intelligence. On the theme of “safety through learning,” Continental has launched a research project with the Technical University of Darmstadt called PRORETA 4, which explores self-learning systems and artificial intelligence.

“In the future, we will be installing sensors in the tyres, which will enable the car to detect the condition of the road’s surface. “Tyres will therefore become a key part of our sensor network in the car,” added Degenhart. “Continental is also working on a unique anticipatory driving system that will be able to learn.”

Cluster connectivity: The Internet will become the car’s sixth sense. Continental is working on a powerful backend that will provide highly accurate traffic information. The basis for this will be the sensor data shared by road users coupled with the traffic backend computer.

Sharing data increases the sensors’ range and enables the vehicle to “see around corners.”

Dialogue between humans and machine: What is the strategy if the vehicle arrives at an exit to a freeway in fully automated mode and the driver is supposed to take control again? In its interactive 3D cinema, Continental will be unveiling a cockpit for the interaction between vehicle and driver – an important answer to the question of control.

System architecture: Future system architectures for automated driving will have to securely manage the huge amount of data that needs to be processed in the car. One gigabyte of sensor data per minute has to be processed in real time. Increasing sensor output and the resultant increase in the volume of data, requires a powerful and reliable electronics architecture.

Reliability: At present,advanced driver assistance systems function as a fall-back for the driver. With automated driving, in the event of a malfunction, the vehicle must be able to continue safely on its way or to come to a controlled, safe stop. Specially configured brake systems are already being tested in fleets. Protection against attempts at manipulation must also be considered. Processes that will recognize such attempts and protect the vehicle systems are currently in development.

Acceptance: As Continental sees it, automated driving will be accepted if people trust the technology. Trust evolves from the intelligent dialogue between the driver and the vehicle. The developers of today’s advanced driver assistance and driver information systems are taking this into account and laying the groundwork for the acceptance of tomorrow’s solutions.

Connected driving: Dynamic electronic horizon increases efficiency and convenience

Connected cars can use their sensors to collect a large amount of information on changing events – such as traffic jams, accidents, traffic lights, warning signs, and road conditions – and share this with other road users via the Internet.

Employing a “cluster” of interconnected vehicles and collating and analysing the data they have collected in the traffic backend computer, creates an up-to-date, extremely accurate image of the traffic network and traffic flow. This information can then be used by other vehicles and their advanced driver assistance systems or other features.

“The more a vehicle knows about the route ahead, the better it can adapt and configure its features accordingly. Being connected means it can learn to look ahead,” said Degenhart. Continental will be presenting an example of this: its eHorizon.

A static version of eHorizon has been used in commercial vehicles since 2012. In this application, it uses pre-programmed information on the route’s elevation profile to adjust its transmission and drive systems, thus saving over 1 500 litres of fuel per truck a year.

Dynamic eHorizon will enable a vehicle to keep learning during the journey and therefore use the range of its sensors to see what’s around the next corner. This also means that Continental’s system does not need to store anywhere near as much information as a navigation system.

Furthermore, dynamic eHorizon can also be connected to smart, mobile communication devices, so that those travelling in the vehicle can stay connected to their digital worlds and to future digital services.

The popular hybrid: a milestone on the road to more efficiency and cleaner air

Increased efficiency is another key aspect of the development activities at Continental. To meet the ever-stricter, extremely ambitious emissions standards, a mild hybrid system with 48-volt on-board power supply will become vital. “It has what it takes to become a popular hybrid because it uses 20 percent less fuel, is relatively affordable and can be used in all vehicle classes,” says Degenhart, highlighting its benefits. Continental will begin production of the system in Europe, Asia, and the USA in 2016.

“Reducing weight and lowering consumption are the ongoing challenges our whole company is tackling to make mobility more efficient. Our turbochargers lower CO2 emissions of new vehicles by up to seven percent, and together with direct fuel injection by as much as 13 percent,” explained Degenhart.

Turbocharger hose lines and transmission crossbeams are becoming increasingly lighter thanks to the use of high-performance plastics.

“Due to the limited output of current battery technology, all-electric vehicles will remain a niche product for the next few years,” he added.

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Huawei Mate 20 Pro matches camera benchmark record

A benchmark by DxOMark sees the triple-cam handset tie with the P20 Pro for best smartphone camera on the market.

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The Huawei Mate 20 Pro has come out top in a camera benchmark test that assesses all aspects of smartphone camera performance.

DxOMark, which conducts rigorous hardware testing and is trusted as an industry standard for image quality measurements, has just released the results of its in-depth analysis of the Huawei Mate 20 Pro smartphone camera. 

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro is the Chinese manufacturer’s latest top-end device. Building on the P20 Pro’s camera technology, the Mate 20 Pro comes with a Leica-branded triple-camera setup, but swaps its stable-mate’s monochrome camera for a super-wide-angle module, offering a 35mm-equivalent focal length range from 16 to 80mm—the widest of all current smartphone cameras.

The handset is in direct competition with the Apple iPhone XS Max, the Google Pixel 3 XL, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, among other. How does it fare?

“With a total photo score of 114, the Huawei Mate 20 Pro ties the record-setting score of its cousin, the P20 Pro,” says DxOMark. “The overall Photo score is calculated from sub-scores in tests that examine different aspects of its performance under different lighting conditions.”

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro achieves a photo score of 114 points. In stills mode, the Mate 20 Pro’s triple camera captures images with good target exposure and a wide dynamic range, recording both good highlight and shadow detail even in difficult high-contrast situations. Noise levels are well under control down to low light levels, and the camera’s white balance system and colour rendering settings produce a pleasant colour response in almost all circumstances.

At 97 points, the Mate 20 Pro is very close to the best for video as well, thanks to a fast and smooth autofocus system with good tracking performance, accurate white balance as well as pleasant colour rendering, and low levels of noise, especially in bright shooting conditions. Our testers also liked the exposure system’s ability to adapt quickly and smoothly to changes in illumination.

It was not all good news. DxOMark also had some criticism for the device.

Click here to read about the drawbacks of the Mate 20 Pro camera, and other positives.

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SA car wins
Dakar Rally

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The final stage of Dakar 2019 drew to a close at the bivouac in Pisco, Peru, and saw Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa’s Nasser Al Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel bring home their South African-built Toyota Hilux for an historic victory. Not only was it a first win for Toyota, but it was also the first petrol-powered car to win the Dakar in the South-American era.

The Qatari driver ensured his French navigator, who turned 43 years old on Thursday, 17 January, received a great birthday present, when the pair arrived at the final time control of Dakar 2019 with teammates Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz in close formation. The two Toyota Hilux crews completed the entire stage together, as De Villiers / Von Zitzewitz waited nearly 55 minutes for the leaders to start the stage, in order to shadow them to the finish.

The emotions bubbled over for Team Principal Glyn Hall, who found himself without words as his two crews drove into the media area after the time control. “This victory was long overdue,” he finally managed, before being swamped in a sea of well-wishers.

The winning driver, however, was much more vocal: “We are so happy to win the Dakar – not only for ourselves, but also for Toyota and the entire Toyota Gazoo Racing SA team. Everyone has worked so hard for so long, and really deserve this. Thank you for letting us drive this car.”

Toyota Gazoo Racing SA led Dakar 2019 from the first to the last stage, with Al Attiyah/Baumel drawing first blood, before handing the mantle to De Villiers / Von Zitzewitz during stage 2. But then a disastrous Stage 3 saw the Qatari retake the lead – a lead he didn’t relinquish despite some of the toughest stages yet seen on any South-American Dakar.

“When we first heard that the rally was going to take place only in one country, we were skeptical,” said Hall after regaining composure. “But the organisers made sure that this year’s race will long be remembered as one of the toughest tests in the last decade.”

Al Attiyah / Baumel’s victory at Dakar 2019 means that Toyota Gazoo Racing has now won both of the world’s toughest automotive races – the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the DakarRally.

Click here to read Glyn Hall’s comment on winning the Dakar Rally, as well as the rankings.

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