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News Roundup: Waymo Gets Patent For Exterior Airbags On Self-Driving Cars, Ford to Test ‘Cellular-V2X’ Tech in San Diego and More

Jennifer van der Kleut

 

Waymo granted patent for exterior airbags

Google’s self-driving car spinoff company, Waymo, has been granted a patent for an airbag system that would be located on the outside of a car. Since self-driving cars are outfitted with sensors, cameras, radar and lidar on the outside of the car, Waymo engineers argue that the car itself can predict an accident even sooner than a human driver can (or can’t, if he or she is distracted). The concept of exterior airbags could protect passengers in the vehicle from an impact, as well as “reduce the likelihood of severe injuries or damage to objects such as pedestrians, bicyclists, animals, other vehicles, or simply inanimate objects.” Read more from Silicon Beat.

 

Mcity autonomous vehicle testing ground gets big investment from automakers, corporations

Mcity, the University of Michigan’s testing ground for autonomous vehicles, has received a total of $11 million in funding from 11 different companies, both corporations and automakers. Ford, General Motors, Toyota and Honda all contributed about $1 million each, and other corporations like State Farm Insurance, Verizon, LG and others. Mcity is a 32-acre man-made “city” where companies can conduct research and test autonomous vehicles. The hub offers a number of varied conditions for vehicles to test in, such as different road conditions, four-lane highways, high-pedestrian streets featuring fake, mechanical pedestrians, and much more. Read more from HybridCars.com.

 

Ford partnering with AT&T, Qualcomm and Nokia to test ‘cellular-V2X’ technology

Ford Motor Co. announced this week that it has formed a partnership with Qualcomm, AT&T and Nokia to test cellular modems that can connect vehicles to each other and to roadside infrastructure to help better navigate in bad weather or construction zones. “Cellular-V2X” technology, as it is called, aims to connect vehicles with traffic lights, roadside beacons and other vehicles on the road to share real-time information about driving conditions. It’s meant to improve safety, as well as help speed up the deployment of self-driving vehicles. Testing is scheduled to take place in San Diego, California before the end of the year. For testing, Ford vehicles will be outfitted with Qualcomm hardware powered by AT&T’s 4G LTE cellular network and Nokia’s computing technology. Read more from Automotive News.

Image: Rendering of self-driving minivan with exterior airbags by Waymo

Blackberry Royalty Settlement Helps Stock Rise Again, Bringing D20 to a New High

With 10 price gainers and 10 price losers this week, one would expect the Driverless Transportation Weekly Stock Index (D20) to take a week off and end its consecutive gain streak, but the D20 defied convention and rose for the sixth straight week. Led by Blackberry once again, the D20 added 2.83 points, or 1.4 percent, to end the week at 210.16, which is a new high.

The Dow and S&P 500 kept pace with the D20 this week as the S&P 500 rose 1.4 percent and the Dow gained 1.3 percent to close over 21,000 at 21,080.28.

For the second week in a row, Blackberry (BBRY) was the leading percentage price gainer, jumping 7 percent to close at $11.11 a share on news that its settlement from a royalty dispute with Qualcomm was significantly higher than originally expected.

This week, Ford Motor Co. (F) shook up the industry by replacing its CEO with the head of its new mobility division.  By losing more than 20 percent of its value, Ford’s stock has had the worst record of any D20 stock since August of 2015, and may finally be getting serious about changes to the 114-year-old enterprise.

Visit the Driverless Transportation D20 Stock Index page to learn more about it and its component stocks.

Up-and-Comers:

Innoviz, an Israeli start-up, has announced a solid state after-market LiDAR unit aimed at the prototyping and testing market for automakers and Tier-1 auto parts suppliers. The unit, called InnovizPro, is squarely aimed at the market where driverless car companies are spending near $70,000 a unit for Velodyne LiDAR systems for their prototypes and testing units.

Blackberry Wins $815 Million in Court, Prompting Stock Price Surge

Jennifer van der Kleut

Blackberry’s (BBRY) 10.6-percent stock price surge this week prevented the Driverless Transportation Weekly Stock Index (D20) from losing more than the Dow or S&P 500.

With 13 price losers and only seven price gainers, the D20 lost 0.8 percent, or 1.43 points, to close at 184.48. It was slightly better than the Dow, which lost 1 percent and the S&P 500, which lost 1.1 percent.

Blackberry was awarded $815 million in a royalty payments dispute with chip maker Qualcomm, which should help build Blackberry’s war chest as it make its transition from a mobile handset-focused hardware company to a software company.

On March 31, Blackberry announced earnings that beat industry analyst’s predictions, and many are beginning to believe that the company’s transition to software will be successful.

Blackberry’s stock price advanced $0.83 this week to close at $8.64, its highest level since December of 2015.

Visit the Driverless Transportation D20 Stock Index page to learn more about it and its component stocks.

Up-and-Comers:

Luminar Technologies, Inc. announced that they raised $36 million in seed funding as they debuted their built-from-scratch LiDAR sensor package. The Portola Valley, California company has focused its efforts on building a LiDAR system that is higher-performing than the competition. By using their own designed chips, lasers and receivers they predict they will be able to “see” further and with more detail than competitors’ systems.

Peloton Technology announced that it raised $60 million in Series B funding. Peloton creates hardware and software systems that allow commercial-sized trucks to safely platoon while driving, increasing the fuel economy for all the trucks involved.

Intel’s Offer to Buy Mobileye Launches the D20 Stock Index Past 190

With a 28-percent jump in its stock price due to Intel’s (INTC) offer to buy it for $15 billion, Mobileye (MBLY) led the Driverless Transportation Weekly Stock Index (D20) to its first ever closing value over 190.

With 15 stock price gainers and only five losers, the D20 jumped 4.3 percent, or 7.84 points, to close at 191.33, a record high.

With the Mobileye purchase offer, Intel seems to be playing catch-up in the driverless space, countering Qualcomm’s purchase of NXP Semiconductors.

In Mobileye, Intel is buying a software business that, according to software industry analyst IHS, currently owns about 70 percent of the world market for driver-assistance systems, including automatic braking, pedestrian detection and lane centering. Mobileye has commercial relationships with 23 automakers, including BMW and Ford.

After the Board of Directors of both companies approve the transaction and Mobileye disappears as a separate entity, we at Driverless Transportation will have to select a publically-traded replacement company for the D20. We need your suggestions in the comments!

Visit the Driverless Transportation D20 Stock Index page to learn more about it and its component stocks.

 

Up-and-Comers:

Lucid Motors has announced a price for its Lucid Air entry-level model that debuted in December of 2016. Although they have not set an availability date, they are taking deposits for the $60,000 entry-level version, which doesn’t include an estimated $7,500 federal rebate for electric vehicles.  The entry-level version will include standard options like a 240-mile range, 400 horsepower, and all the hardware necessary for autonomous driving.

Renesas and NVIDIA push D20 into the Black

Renesas Electronics’ (TYO:6723) 8.6-percent price jump, coupled with a 4.5-percent climb by NVIDIA (NVDA), drove the Driverless Transportation Weekly Stock Index’s (D20) 0.8-percent gain for the week.

The D20 rose 1.23 points to close at 158.44, while the Dow rose just 0.1 percent and the S&P 500 fell 0.7 percent, finishing at 2126.41.

NXP, a direct competitor to Renesas, is being bought for $39 billion by Qualcomm.  The market for companies who create chips for automobiles is heating up.

NVIDIA has announced that Tesla (TLSA) Motors Inc. is using its Drive PX 2 chip set in all new Tesla cars.  This allows Tesla to meet its objective of including the required hardware in all its newly manufacturer vehicles, to enable the autopilot mode.

NVIDIA’s stock finished the week at $70.56, up $3.02, while Tesla dropped just below $200, closing at $197.97.

Visit the Driverless Transportation D20 Stock Index page to learn more about it and its component stocks.

 

Up-and-Comers:

Chronocam, a Paris-based maker of computer vision systems, announced that it has raised a Series B round worth $15 million.  Chronocam plans on delivering a device-based system–as opposed to a cloud-based system–to the marketplace by the end of next year.

Driverless vehicles require the faster sensing and decision making capabilities that an on-camera based device system provides.

Google and Qualcomm Maneuver into Connected Car Market

Susan Beardslee

Susan Beardslee is a senior analyst, ABI Research, who provides global automotive and vehicle research coverage.

Google I/O demo’d a Maserati concept car with an embedded Android N OS, through an Automotive Development Platform (ADP) on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820.  The plan is to use Android as a common platform, heading further in infotainment and into OEM’s connected cars.  Intrinsyc will be the distributor for the open ADP’s to develop, test and optimize.

Next Generation Android N has extensions that offer greater head unit alignment, allowing automakers to create their own apps and identity as well as enable various automotive controls. It offers many new car features including support for AM/FM radio, HVAC controls, rear-view cameras, a Bluetooth stack, media streaming, multi-channel audio, all digital instrument clusters, and an infotainment user interface design.

The intent is to provide automotive OEMs with a “turn-key” platform, including product refreshes. The expectation is auto OEM’s will be able to customize their platforms to complement their brand, while maintaining a consistent look for branded apps like Facebook or Instagram.  Google can support OEM’s by solidifying the development process and creating an extensive apps platform for vehicles.  At present, this remains a concept to demonstrate Android N automotive capabilities. There is no stated launch timing or brand, but an acknowledgement that cars are now a covered form factor.

Visit ABI Research for more.

Google wants to go deeper into both the car’s functionality as well as the user experience in the vehicle. Android Auto debuted at I/O two years ago, with an app launched the following year, which has been competing with offerings such as Apple’s Car Play for auto infotainment.  Android Auto, although adopted by numerous OEMs, requires a compatible car or aftermarket device, along with an Android enabled phone updated with version 5.0 or greater.

The Android N OS differs from “walled garden” competitors, differentiating with a scalable, open, ETE solution.  The offering is likely to extend from design to the potential for Over the Air (OTA) updates to keep the solutions up to date versus software that is already outdated once the vehicle rolls off the production line. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chips provide speed, extensive brand recognition and additional relationships with auto OEM’s.

The move to Android N and the Qualcomm partnership brings additional competition including Microsoft Windows Embedded, Blackberry’s QNX as well as multiple Linux versions.  Auto OEM’s will also be able to continue providing Apple CarPlay.

In addition, Google’s desire to move deeper into the car and further into the user experience will present a challenge with the very customers that they are trying to attract.  Both want to control the experience and relationship with the customer.  Although Google offers the OEM’s an opportunity to customize, the underlying data and analytics ownership, as well as future opportunities for recurring revenue from the vehicle and owner are far from resolved.

Finally, an embedded Android N will impact the automotive OEM’s head unit designs.  Time will tell if this is enough of a value proposition and a competitive differentiation.

For more information, visit abiresearch.

Driverless Tech, IoT Center Stage at Renesas Devcon 2015 in Orange Co.

Burney Simpson

Silicon Valley is moving south in October as Renesas Electronics Corp., holds its annual development conference in Orange County, Calif., bringing together semiconductor experts and autonomous-vehicle engineers and programmers involved in the explosive growth of driverless technology.

The Renesas Devcon 2015 runs October 12-15, offering dozens of seminars, 84 demonstrations in the exhibit hall, and a number of major autonomous industry firms. The show will be held at the Hyatt Regency, Orange County, in Garden Grove, Calif.

The overarching theme of Devcon 2015 is the Internet of Things (IoT), with autonomous vehicle technology being one major aspect of that.

The shows 15 tracks include Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), Automotive Cockpit, Automotive-Safety and Security, Connectivity, Automotive Embedded Controls, Motor Control, Automotive Technology Insights, and Automotive Tools and Ecosystem. Tracks offer a mix of lab and lecture, with introductory, intermediate, and advanced approaches.

Seminars will be led by authorities from Arada Systems (on ADAS), GainSpan Corp., GM, Green Hills Software, Harbrick, Link Labs, Qualcomm Atheros, Semtech, the University of Michigan, and Zebra Technologies, in addition to Renesas.

In July, Arada and Renesas announced they were collaborating on connected car technology. Qualcomm closed in August on its $2.4 billion purchase of CSR plc, a provider of semiconductors and software for the Internet of Everything and for the automotive industry.

Renesas supplies microcontrollers and microprocessors worldwide, including the RH850/P1x-C automotive safety MCU series.

An influential player in autonomous- and connected-vehicle technology, Renesas Electronics Corp. grew from the 2010 merger of NEC Electronics and Renesas Technology Corp. The U.S. headquarters is Santa Clara, Calif., while Tokyo is the corporate home. Renesas reported fiscal 2015 net income of $683 million on net revenues of $6.6 billion.

Qualcomm and Honda, Oregon, Utah DOTs Honored for Best of 2015 ITS Projects

Burney Simpson

Qualcomm and Honda, along with the Oregon and Utah departments of transportation, were named recipients of the Best of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Awards, ITS America announced this week at its 25th Annual Meeting & Exposition in Pittsburgh.

Qualcomm and Honda teamed to develop, test and successfully demonstrate dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) technology that allowed vehicle-to-pedestrian (V2P) communication. The smartphone app determines whether a pedestrian is in danger of being hit by the vehicle, and sends warnings to both the driver and the pedestrian.

The awards honor organizations in the high-tech transportation industry for projects that demonstrated “specific and measurable outcomes and exemplified innovation by establishing a “new dimension” of performance,” according to ITS America.

The Oregon Department of Transportation’s “OR 217 Active Traffic Management,” project was honored for Best New Innovative Products, Services, or Applications. This pdf describes the OR 217 ATM.

ITS also presents awards in four categories under the Best New Innovative Practices banner — sustainability in transportation; partnership deployment (business-to-business, government-to-government, or public/private); research, design and innovation; and rural ITS.

Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and Honda R&D Americas, Inc. won the Research, Design and Innovation award for “Honda and Qualcomm DSRC-based-Vehicle-to-Pedestrian (V2P) and Other Vulnerable Road User Safety Project.

The Sustainability and Transportation award honored the Utah Department of Transportation’s “Winter Road Weather Index” project. See pdf of UDOT 2014 Annual Efficiencies Report for WRWI.

Cubic Transportation Systems and the Chicago Transit Authority took the Partnership Deployment award for its “Chicago Transit Authority Ventra Update: Open and Loving It” bankcard payment system.

The Rural ITS Project award will be presented at the National Rural ITS (NRITS) Conference in Snowbird, Utah, August 9-12.

“These awards recognize the leading transportation innovators who’ve effectively demonstrated a dedication to advancing ITS through innovative projects,” Regina Hopper, president and CEO of ITS America, said in a press release.