Transitional Technologies: Connectivity as the stepping stone to cars of the future

Connected cars, aka connectivity, is thought to have been the very first of the next-generation technologies serving as game changers for the auto industry, personal mobility, and ground transportation. The ideal will be to someday have automated, electric vehicles tied together through a Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) communication network — and connected to everything else through the next version, Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X). The hope is that traffic could be controlled, collisions avoided, and energy use made more efficient.

And it will be connected to everything else, such as your home. It’s becoming quite common to see intelligent mobile devices able to manage what’s going on in your house — security system, heating, lighting, recording a sporting event, etc. Why not tie you car into all of it for electric vehicle charging, checking diagnostics, energy consumption, and getting it ready to take you to work in the morning?

Connectivity goes back to General Motors and Motorola introducing OnStar in 1996, eventually offering subscribers security, emergency services, hands-free calling, navigation, and remote diagnostics. Once smart phones started showing up in the late 2000s, connectivity began tying phones to a car’s dashboard control panel for these types of convenience features; plus what became known as “infotainment” that could include hearing your favorite music artist or the Howard Stern show on SiriusXM Radio. It eventually shifted over to voice commands to keep eyes on the road and the process more automated and easy to use.

These days, three tech developments tend to come up when connected cars are being discussed — 5G, V2V/V2X, and IoT.

For 5G, debate continues over which region will win the race to bring the leading-edge technology and clear the hurdles for adoption — North America, Europe, or Asia? Having a mobile device with 5G means higher capacity and increased bandwidth compared to 4G. It has the potential to clean up the problems on 4G as everything you can think of switches over to intensive, sophisticated software and data transfer needing a lot more bandwidth.

But the revolution will take much longer than planned. Last year, AT&T and Verizon went live with their 5G networks in a small, targeted set of cities. T-Mobile promised to clear its acquisition of Sprint and integrate their networks into the largest 5G network out there. The legal hurdle was cleared on April 1, but its presence in 5G is at the beginning phase. Handset makers have been rolling out a number of new models compatible to the new standard. However mobile device users aren’t seeing any real improvements yet in the existing cellular networks out there from AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint/T-Mobile.

But the technology does have its champions in telecommunications and mobility. The GSA (Global mobile Suppliers Association) said that by the end of 2019, 61 operators in 34 countries had launched one or more 3GPP-compliant 5G services. Of those, 49 operators had launched 5G mobile services, while 34 had launched FWA (Fixed Wireless Access) or home broadband services. The group sees the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) as fundamental for producing standardized reports and specifications for 3GPP technologies. Seven telecommunications organizations came together to create the 3GPP standards to support the development of 5G.

It does have its enemies — particularly those spreading concern that 5G will be dangerous to human health. Some experts see it as another conspiracy theory, and say that there’s no evidence that there’s anything to worry about.

V2V/V2X:  V2X is that latest standard to emerge from what was originally named V2V when the University of Michigan’s Mcity Test Facility gave it that badge. V2X is a vehicle communication system that integrates other more specialized types of communication such as V2I, V2N, V2V, V2P, V2D and V2G. Cellular vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X) is another development getting a lot of attention lately, and is expected to serve as the foundation for vehicles to communicate with each other and everything around them.

Automakers, tech companies, mobile phone networks, and auto suppliers, are waiting for 3GPP Release 16, which is expected to be finalized sometime this year. It covers all the bases on 5G coming out. One section includes specifications for C-V2X, that wold address issues such as platooning, extended sensors, automated, and remote driving.

The US Department of Transportation has been heavily involved with what technology will take the lead in 5G, and where V2X communications will go next. For V2X, DOT released a standard for review in February supporting the agency’s 5.9 GHz “Safety Band” spectrum testing. The devices will be used to evaluate the safety performance and capabilities of the devices through both small- and large-scale testing, including scalability and congestion, interoperability, and complex transportation scenarios.

Internet of Things — In 2010 when it first emerged in tech media, IoT at first seemed like the latest techie expression for the interconnectedness of devices, laptops, networks, mainframes, cell towers, and satellites; but it quickly became much larger than that.

What does it mean lately? IoT platforms are geared to analyze performance and share predictive and preventive maintenance, and other operational maneuvers to keep the participating organizations productive and efficient. It’s thought to bring together three factors: the ubiquitous internet, low-cost connected devices, and growth in data analytics solutions.

Smart appliances are tapping into the IoT mindset to allow end users to do everything in just a few commands. That might include planning out meals and getting reports on the nutrients and health implications of their planned meal. The IoT platform also enables more efficient use of energy as equipment makes intelligent adjustments to energy consumption. It helps reduce operational costs through enhanced predictive and preventive maintenance.

There’s also the revenue generating side that can help resolve one of the toughest questions of the day — finding additional revenue steams and offset some of the costs coming from development of the new technology. There are creative methods being explored that sell services to support connected products, rather than the products themselves. Many companies are bringing in specialists to tap into the developing technology. That could be through a tech consultant with IoT expertise, or through hiring new staff with a title like Business Development Manager, Internet of Things.

So when looking at 5G networks, V2X communication systems, and new IoT solutions, you can get a closer look at the elements shaping the contributions connected cars will make to the vehicle technology revolution.

And in other news……..

Tesla beats Toyota on stock market:  Tesla, Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA), which last month took its 10 year anniversary on the stock market, now has the largest market value among automakers — surpassing Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM) and taking the lead. This morning, Tesla share prices have hovered right under $1,300 per share and a market cap at $240.96 billion. Toyota has been trading around $127 per share with its market cap at $206.1 billion. Tesla is weathering the COVID-19 storm well and has a loyal following in market analysts and shareholders. Expanding into China and Europe, and continuing to launch new products such as the Model Y, though investors are keeping the pressure on CEO Elon Musk and team to improve quarterly earnings.

Net-zero for America:  House Democrats last Tuesday released a bill that calls for the US to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, primarily through decarbonizing the electric and transportation sectors. It doesn’t remove natural gas fracking or coal-powered plants. Power plants would need to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2040; with an economy-wide reduction expected by 2050 through building, transportation and industrial electrification.

Republicans on the select committee were frustrated the policy package did not go through the full committee process, meaning it will inevitably look different once it does get a full House vote. The sweeping plan for climate action embraces many of the goals of the Green New Deal that was released in February 2019, but wasn’t able to move forward in the House.

Diesel pumps changing:  Is it just me, or does it seem like more gas stations are adding diesel fuel pumps, and integrating them into all of the other fuel dispensers? According to Diesel Technology Forum, 55 percent of retail fuel stations in North America offer diesel fuel. It’s been gradually integrated into the main dispensers rather than setting up a solo dispenser for diesel. The organization says that diesel cars have the advantage of getting 20-to-40 percent more miles per gallon than gasoline-powered vehicles. They have less need to stop at the gas stations.

GAM editor on workplace struggles:  Do Amazon, Tesla, and other tech firms treat employees nearly as well as their customers? Those of us who drive a Tesla electric car, or belong to Amazon Prime, or take Uber and Lyft rides all over town, have an idea that while its fun to be a customer, you probably wouldn’t want to work for them. Read more in my LinkedIn Pulse commentary.

Countries with Highest CO2 Emissions
From Fuel Combustion



Energy-related CO2 emissions grew by 2.1% in 2017
and by 1.9% in 2018. Almost all countries contributed
to the rise except Europe and Latin America.
Study comes from Enerdata’s Global Energy
Statistical Yearbook 2019.

Autonomous a decade away? What about connected smart apps until then?

Last week saw the big CES show in Las Vegas, where autonomous vehicles took over five years ago; the star then was the Audi A7 self-driving prototype. Many attendees this year were very disappointed that automakers and tech partners have changed their story from the AV Revolution over to cool, connected features being added to new cars.

This topic has been further explored in a Green Auto Market analytical report. Click here to see the market report available for purchase and download.



Highlights from this year’s CES:

  • Sony unveiled an electric car concept that could set the Japanese tech giant up as a partner for self-driving EVs of the future. The company said sensors are embedded within the vehicle, in order to “detect and recognize people and objects inside and outside the car, and provide highly advanced driving support.” Magna Steyr built prototype, and Sony listed Benteler, Blackberry, Bosch, Continental, Elektrobit, Genetex, Nvidia, Qualcomm, and ZF Friedrichshafen as partners.
  • Along with reminders about its intelligent mobility offerings, Nissan revealed a new twin-motor, all-electric, all-wheel-drive system. It’s expected to debut in Nissan’s first all-electric crossover utility vehicle that may arrive in the US in 2021. Called e-4ORCE, the new system will deliver high-torque, precision handling and stability, Nissan said. This will be possible by optimizing power delivery to each of the four wheels.
  • Toyota’s Woven City was shown off as a prototype community of the future that will be built near Mount Fuji in Japan. The 175-acre site will house an experimental laboratory of future technologies including self-driving vehicles run on hydrogen fuel cells, robots, smart homes and new forms of personal mobility. People will be able to live in this community of the future.
  • Hey there, hardcore gamers:  This year, both Microsoft’s Xbox and Sony’s PlayStation will launch new, next-generation game consoles. Both are scheduled to arrive this holiday season, and both are being slowly finished up for major launches. And you can always get a cutting-edge TV of the future to play the games on and watch your favorite show. Samsung showed off its Q950 8K TV with a minimal 15mm frame and AI processor that can track screen objects and position the sound to match. LG unveiled its latest rollable OLED TV, that can roll down from the ceiling like a projector screen with no need for a projector; there’s also a more affording OLED TV with a smaller 48-inch display.
  • Uber and Hyundai Motor Co. have a new partnership to develop Uber Air Taxis for a future aerial ride share network, and the new partners unveiled a new full-scale aircraft concept. Hyundai is the first automotive company to join the Uber Elevate initiative, bringing automotive-scale manufacturing capability and a track record of mass-producing electric vehicles.
  • Renault is developing a solution enabling automatic and secure interaction and communication between cars and connected objects in homes in partnership with French smart-home startup Otodo. Users will be able to control their home’s connected objects directly from their vehicle’s dashboard, as well as send instructions from their home, using a smartphone or connected speaker, to their connected Renault vehicle to prepare or share an itinerary, and other functions. It will be available in all Renault models that have the new Renault EASY LINK multimedia system, including the all-new Zoe, Clio, and Captur.
  • Hey there, Avatar fans:  Something that could be called “Ava-car” will be launched to promote upcoming sequels to the hugely popular Avatar movie made by the legendary director James Cameron. He spoke at CES to announced an Avatar-themed partnership with Mercedes-Benz, revealing the futuristic AVTR concept car. It offers what the German carmaker sees as the future of automotive design, featuring things like a steering wheel that will “merge” man and machine. AVTR will be able to recognize the driver based on their heartbeat and breathing patterns. The look of the car is based on non-human characters from Avatar’s fictional eco-universe. The seats and floor are made from sustainable materials, and the battery is recyclable, too.

Autonomous and electric vehicles steal the thunder at CES

CES 2016 logoSelf-driving cars and electrified vehicles were key themes at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) last week in Las Vegas. CES has become the leading showcase arena in the U.S. for the coolest, cutting-edge devices for cars and other consumer products. It seems to be evolving into the leading event of the year for the auto industry, slightly surpassing the North American International Auto Show right before it starts up this coming week in Detroit.

Analysts say we’re 15-to-20 years from seeing hundreds of thousands of fully autonomous vehicles on our roads. In the meantime, the concept of self-driving cars appears to be an ideal platform for automakers and technology partners to be rolling out, and testing out, new bells and whistles that will eventually become standard features. Electric vehicle technologies were also shown off by OEMs during CES.

  • Ford CEO Mark Fields was a keynote speaker at CES, where he announced a deal with Amazon to incorporate the cloud-based voice assistant, Alexa into its vehicles. Using Alexa will allow a driver to not just open a garage door but turn on lights and adjust the thermostat by voice command, among other features. Fields talked about Ford’s commitment to personal mobility through supporting ridesharing and carsharing programs. However, he didn’t mention the alliance with Google on self-driving car technologies that had been announced shortly before CES. Fields did talk about a new light and radar sensor (LiDAR) that can be mounted in the mirrors of a car. Developed by Silicon Valley-based company Velodyne, Inc., this third-generation sensor can extend the LiDAR range by 200 meters, which is essential for the safety of autonomous vehicles. It’s called the “Ultra Puck,” and will enable a driverless vehicle to create a real-time, 3D map of its surroundings, Fields said.
  • General Motors chairman and CEO Mary Barra, during her keynote Wednesday, confirmed that the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt electric car would be in production this year and would sell, after government rebates, for $30,000. While it will be competing with the Nissan Leaf, it will get about double the range at 200 miles. Barra’s unveiling of the Bolt at CES came just days after GM announced an alliance with ridesharing service Lyft that includes the creation of a fleet of shared GM vehicles available for Lyft drivers to rent. The Bolt will be a key display feature for GM this week at the Detroit Auto Show.
  • As Volkswagen continues to battle the diesel emissions violations scandal, CES was a platform for showing off its electric people-mover concept. VW’s BUDD-e minivan concept has been designed to show what connected, electric transportation could look like a few years from now. The BUDD-e concept, revealed at CES on Tuesday, offers a new modular platform toolkit designed for electric vehicles that the automaker intends to deploy across its brands. BUDD-e packs a 101-kilowatt-hour battery providing up to 373 miles of range in the New European Driving Cycle, a test cycle designed to assess emissions. It can be recharged to 80% in 15 minutes, the company said.
  • Automakers and leading automotive suppliers have been taking self-driving car technologies very seriously in recent years – according to a study released during CES by Thomson Reuters. According to the new report from the Intellectual Property and Science business of Thomson Reuters, there were more than 22,000 new inventions related to self­driving automobiles between 2010 and 2015. Companies such as Toyota, Bosch, Denso, Hyundai, GM and Nissan, have been the global leaders in self­driving vehicle innovation. Toyota alone has patented over 2,000 new driverless tech inventions in the last five years, double the number two player Bosch, according to the report. LG, Samsung, Google, Boeing, IBM, Amazon, Carnegie Mellon, and MIT also have contributed significant new intellectual property in the category over the last five years.
  • While Apple is new to the autonomous vehicle game, Thomson Reuters IP & Science analysts predict that Apple will soon make a collaboration announcement with Tesla Motors; while Apple is not a leading innovator in this field like Google has become, a partnership with Tesla would be a predictable move for both companies, based on a thorough review of both companies’ patent portfolios, according to Thomson Reuters.
  • Nvidia has introduced a new computer for vehicles that includes artificial-intelligence features to make them more autonomous. Volvo will use the new product in its public trials of autonomous vehicles in 2017, the company said. Nvidia designs graphics processing units, as well as system on a chip units for the mobile computing market, and is working on playing a role in the automotive technology market.
  • Self-driving cars was the topic of several surveys and studies released last week. New data from an Autotrader study reveals 70% of consumers are more likely to consider vehicles with autonomous features such as parking assist, collision avoidance, and automatic braking.
  • Self-driving cars are involved in fewer crashes on average than vehicles with a driver behind the wheel, according to a study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute commissioned by Alphabet Inc’s Google unit. It looked only at Google’s fleet of more than 50 self-driving cars, which has logged 1.3 million miles in Texas and California in self-driving mode. The test fleet has reported 17 crashes over the last six years, although none were the fault of the self-driving cars, Google said. After adjusting for severity and accounting for crashes not reported to police, the study estimated cars with drivers behind the wheel are involved in 4.2 crashes per million miles, versus 3.2 crashes per million miles for self-driving cars in autonomous mode.
  • A survey conducted by Volvo found that 92% of respondents believe that people should be able to take control of self-driving cars at any moment while 81% of the people agree that automakers, not car owners, should take responsibility if an accident occurs while a vehicle is driving autonomously.
  • While self-driving cars grabbed most of the media attention at CES, Panasonic Corp.’s President Kazuhiro Tsuga says it will be years before autonomous systems contribute meaningfully to the company’s bottom line. Panasonic, which has partnerships with Ford, Toyota, Tesla, forecasts sales in the automotive segment will climb to $17.8 billion in the year ending March 2019. Most of that will come from cockpit infotainment systems and car batteries, Tsuga said.
  • Kia executives said that said the Korean automaker will offer their first “partially autonomous” vehicle by 2020, with “highly autonomous” technology to follow five years later. The company will invest up to $2 billion in autonomous vehicle technologies, the company said.

Toyota working hard at building its image as the leader in safe, connected and autonomous vehicles

Self driving Lexus test modelToyota Motor Corp. is striding forward to reestablish its name as a manufacturer of safe vehicles and a forerunner in advanced, autonomous vehicle technologies. Its vehicle communication system, called ITS Connect, will go on sale in Japan this year in the Toyota Crown luxury sedan; it was unveiled on Oct. 6 during a demonstration near the Tokyo waterfront. Toyota said it will deploy autonomous driving systems by 2020 supporting vehicles talking to each other, scanning blind spots, and keeping safe distance from other cars.

Toyota’s work is aimed at supporting developing technologies that could lead the auto industry’s transition to autonomous vehicles. That will come through ITS Connect, which deploys vehicle-to-infrastructure and vehicle-to-vehicle communication systems in its cars; these technologies are also described by transportation planners as “intelligent transportation systems” (ITS). Some experts believe that ITS technologies will be key components in autonomous vehicles. For now, Toyota is considered a leader in connected car technologies that will play a role in the future of autonomous vehicles.

Toyota is continuing to recover from its massive vehicle recall during 2009-2010 for “unintended acceleration,” and was part of the major recall this year with Takata airbags. In February 2011, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in collaboration with NASA, released findings into the investigation on the Toyota drive-by-wire throttle system. After a 10-month study, NASA and NHTSA scientists found no electronic defect in Toyota vehicles; the crisis wasn’t over in court rooms, but the ruling helped Toyota emerge from the crisis on solid ground.

General Motors seemed to follow Toyota’s lead in 2014 with its massive recall of 39 million vehicles globally over a faulty ignition switch, bringing in outside investigators to get to the root of the problem. Analysts and commentators are encouraging Volkswagen to follow a similar ethical path in its diesel emissions scandal accountability.

Along with hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, Toyota has been investing in safety and innovative technologies that could support development of future autonomous vehicles. Toyota has been testing out its own Advanced Safety Research Vehicle – a Lexus LS used for research at the Toyota Research Institute in Ann Arbor, Mich. It uses forward-looking and side-facing millimeter-wave radar sensors, as well as a 360-degree laser scanner. Onboard computers use data from those scanners, and data collected from the engine and wheels, to collect data on the car’s surroundings, and operate the car’s controls.

Eight automakers – Toyota, Daimler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Nissan, and Volkswagen – have been developing vehicle-to-vehicle communications (V2V) technology in cooperation with the federal government for several years through a group called the Crash Avoidance Metrics Partnership (CAMP). The V2V transmitters and software are expected to cost an estimated $350 per vehicle in 2020; but automakers so far have supported NHTSA’s objective.

On Aug. 18, 2014, NHTSA released an advance notice of proposed rulemaking and a supporting research report on V2V communications technology. “Safety is our top priority, and V2V technology represents the next great advance in saving lives,” said US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

The rules will give drivers early warnings of approaching danger in vehicles built after 2020. NHTSA predicts that V2V technology could prevent 25,000 to 592,000 crashes and save 49 to 1,083 lives annually when the entire US vehicle fleet has adopted the technology; that would come from adopting Left Turn Assist (LTA) and Intersection Movement Assist (IMT) applications.

The Ann Arbor test, managed by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI), is testing out several different accident-prevention approaches. The most sophisticated includes 64 cars, three buses and three trucks driven by the public and specially built by the automakers with a sampling of six safety-warning features, along with video cameras to capture traffic incidents.

On the green car front, Toyota is counting on the redesigned 2016 Prius to reestablish the Prius brand as a technology innovator. For fuel cell cars, Toyota will be displaying the Toyota FCV Plus at the Tokyo Motor Show. Toyota is counting on the 2016 Mirai to essentially become the Prius of hydrogen fuel cell cars.