Connect with us

Cars

Volvo builds high-tech concierge into cars

Published

on

Volvo Cars has announced a new way for customers to interact with their vehicles – a concierge service which will form part of the Volvo On Call smartphone-based service offering.

Available initially as part of a pilot project involving 300 Volvo owners in San Francisco, the concierge service, available within Volvo’s smartphone app, aim to make the lives of Volvo owners easier by providing certified Volvo service providers to take care of mundane vehicle tasks like fuelling and servicing, while the owner continues about their daily business.

While Volvo On Call is still under review for South African introduction, the announcement of the concierge service pilot programme shows how, globally, Volvo has dug deep into consumer research to deliver on customers’ unmet needs.

“Imagine parking your car in the morning at work and when you head home your car has been serviced, cleaned and refuelled. These are the kind of services we want to deliver to our customers. Our research shows that people spend hours every week running these small errands – we want to give that time back to Volvo drivers, so they can do something more valuable instead,” says Björn Annwall, Senior Vice President, Global Consumer Experience at Volvo Car Group.

Research by Volvo has shown that over 70 per cent of customers want fuelling services at their fingertips, while 56 per cent want their car picked up for routine maintenance, and 49 per cent would like to be able to have their car moved to another location when desired.

“Our approach is a simple one – we aim to make life easier by employing the latest connected technology in an easy-to-use smartphone app. We are taking an open and agile approach to this, and welcome collaboration with partners which offer new and innovative services. This is just the beginning,” says Anders Tylman-Mikiewicz, Vice President Consumer Connectivity Services at Volvo Car Group.

The Volvo owners participating in the pilot project will be able to use the pilot app to identify concierge services available in the immediate vicinity and order them via their smartphone. Requests are then sent to an authorised Volvo service provider, who will refuel the vehicle, perform scheduled maintenance, or whatever additional service the owner has requested.

The app also provides a one-time-use digital key, which is location and time-specific, and sends it out to the authorised service provider. When services are complete, the car is locked and the digital key expires. The car can also be returned to where the customer left it or delivered to a completely new location at the customer’s request.

Volvo Cars’ network of digital innovation labs in California, Shanghai and Gothenburg are focusing on understanding the needs of the company’s growing customer base in an effort to further expand the range of services on offer. Due to the scalable nature of the Volvo On Call platform, new services can be easily added to ultimately offer a whole range of time-saving services around customer vehicles.

Cars

Body-tracking tech moves to assembly line

Technology typically used by the world’s top sport stars to raise their game, or ensure their signature skills are accurately replicated in leading video games, is now being used on an auto assembly line.

Published

on

Employees at Ford’s Valencia Engine Assembly Plant, in Spain, are using a special suit equipped with advanced body tracking technology. The pilot system, created by Ford and the Instituto Biomecánica de Valencia, has involved 70 employees in 21 work areas. 

Player motion technology usually records how athletes sprint or turn, enabling sport coaches or game developers to unlock the potential of sport stars in the real world or on screen. Ford is using it to design less physically stressful workstations for enhanced manufacturing quality.

“It’s been proven on the sports field that with motion tracking technology, tiny adjustments to the way you move can have a huge benefit,” said Javier Gisbert, production area manager, Ford Valencia Engine Assembly Plant. “For our employees, changes made to work areas using similar technology can ultimately ensure that, even on a long day, they are able to work comfortably.”

Engineers took inspiration from a suit they saw at a trade fair that demonstrated how robots could replicate human movement and then applied it to their workplace, where production of the  new Ford Transit Connect and 2.0-litre EcoBoost Duratec engines began this month.

The skin-tight suit consists of 15 tiny movement tracking light sensors connected to a wireless detection unit. The system tracks how the person moves at work, highlighting head, neck, shoulder and limb movements. Movement is recorded by four specialised motion-tracking cameras – similar to those usually paired with computer game consoles – placed near the worker and captured as a 3D skeletal character animation of the user.

Specially trained ergonomists then use the data to help employees align their posture correctly. Measurements captured by the system, such as an employee’s height or arm length, are used to design workstations, so they better fit employees. 

Continue Reading

Cars

Electric cars begin to bridge the luxury gap

A new era has dawned as electric mobility bridges the gap between luxury and necessity, writes TREVOR HILL – head of Audi South Africa.

Published

on

Mobility is essential to today’s world. We travel to get to work, to go shopping, and to meet friends and family – in short, effective transport impacts on all aspects of our modern lives. Access to mobility is critical to economic growth and progress, bringing more opportunities and better productivity. At the same time however, growing environmental concerns and a looming shortage of fossil fuels have created tension between our ever-growing demand for mobility and the health of our planet.

Growing populations, increasing urbanization and economic and social development mean that there are more cars on our roads each day. The knock-on effects of this are greater levels of congestion and longer times spent commuting, which means more stress and higher levels of aggression on the road. Skyrocketing levels of air pollution – to which transportation is one of the leading contributors – has negative effects on both health and climate change, both of which are key issues in global policy agendas.

So, the writing has been on the wall for some time. The gold standard in automotive technological progress has thus been to achieve a radical reduction of engine emissions and the development of electric cars has been at the forefront of this charge. We have now entered the beginning of a new era, as more and more of these vehicles take to the roads. Electric cars are now at the cusp of the mass market, with a steady stream of new models set to reach the consumer in future. Last week, we launched the Audi e-tron, our first all-electric-drive SUV, at a world premiere in San Francisco – one huge leap forward in pursuit of our goal. Audi will also bring more than 20 electrified models to the market by 2025, from the compact class to the full-size category. Around a dozen models will be all-electric, while the remainder will be plug-in hybrids for emission-free driving on shorter journeys.

Powering this development is ongoing improvement in battery technology, with increasing energy density and lengthened driving ranges possible between charges. Consumers have noted that they feel confident using electric cars for day-to-day use once battery technology can sustain a driving range of 300 or more kilometres, which is now possible. The Audi e-tron has a range of 400 kilometers, making it ideal for long distance driving. Drivers who charge the e-tron overnight can set off in the morning in full confidence that they won’t need to stop at a charging station as they go about their day.

What this technological progress also means however, is that the levels of power and performance achieved by an electric car draw ever closer to those of traditional engines. For anyone who loves high strung, powerful engines and the rush of adrenaline that comes from flooring the throttle on an empty stretch of road, this is no small thing.  At Audi, we are lucky to be surrounded by some of the most exceptional engines ever produced, so few people understand the thrill of an extraordinary driving experience better than we do. So, the holy grail is to achieve this same performance with vastly improved economy.

The Audi e-tron’s electric drive has two asynchronous motors, one at the front, one at the rear, with a total output of 300 kW of power. This allows the Audi e-tron to accelerate from 0 to 100km/h in just 5.7 seconds.

The next step will be the development of electric cars suitable for those who regularly drive long distances, entailing further advances in battery technology, and the development of a network of charging stations across the country. The battery for the Audi e-tron is designed to last the entire life cycle of the vehicle. When charged at a high-power charging station at up to 150 kW, the Audi e-tron can be restored to 80% in less than half an hour. At 22 kW, the Audi e-tron can charge its battery to 100% in around four and a half hours.

For city dwellers, however, the age of electric mobility has well and truly arrived. Rapid advances in technology continue to drive progress; the rise of electric cars is only one of many developments set to transform transportation as we know it, heralding a cleaner, more efficient future.

 

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2018 World Wide Worx