Blackberry Surges on Rumor They May Ditch Hardware for Software

In anticipation of Q2 2017 earnings, scheduled to be announced this Wednesday, Sept. 28, Blackberry (BBRY) surged this week, jumping up 9.7 percent to close at $7.91.

Rumors continue to surround the Canadian company about its transformation to a software company and potential exit from the phone handset hardware business.  Will there be a large announcement on Wednesday?  We will have to wait and see.

Seventeen price gainers, one unchanged, and only two losers helped the Driverless Transportation Weekly Stock Index (D20) rise 3 percent this week, climbing over the 160-point mark to finish at 161.46.

The D20 easily outpaced the Dow’s 0.8-percent gain and the 1.2-percent jump in the S&P 500.

TomTom (TOMS) had a good week after announcing that it had been chosen by Volkswagen’s (VLKPY) heavy truck division, MAN, to provide mapping capability to its new RIO connected-vehicle offering.

TomTom’s stock, listed on the Amsterdam exchange, climbed 7.7 percent to close at €8.29 while Volkswagen’s ADR shares inched up 1.6 percent and ended the week at $26.76.

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



San Francisco-based Aria Systems, which has built a secure, cloud-based platform for generalized recurring billing, has entered the on-demand transportation market by offering Aria for Connected Vehicles.  Among other features, this platform will allow Car Manufacturers to offer a secure way to bill consumers for hourly on-demand access to vehicles.

Driverless Testing in Massachusetts ‘in a Few Weeks’

Burney Simpson

Massachusetts may soon be testing autonomous vehicle technology at an 80-acre site about an hour’s drive from Boston.

Devens, a 4,400 acre former army base, is being marketed as a driverless test site by MassDevelopment, the state’s economic development and finance agency, according to reports. Military housing has been demolished on parts of the site but it has electric, water, and sewer infrastructure.  

Thatcher Kezer, SVP with MassDevelopment, says there is strong interest in testing at the site by several autonomous vehicle technology firms and organizations with operations in Massachusetts.

“Within the next few weeks, they’ll be testing,” Kezer told the Boston Herald this week.

Four firms, including one that would test a car and a second that will review driverless sensors, are ready to sign contracts, said Kezer who declined to share company names.


Devens might attract Cambridge-based nuTonomy, a developer of autonomous vehicle software and algorithms. NuTonomy plans to begin on-road testing of a driverless taxi system this year in Singapore’s One North business district.

That city-state has “a more favorable testing and regulatory environment,” nuTonomy founder Karl Iagnemma told

However, Massachusetts offers weather that could provide a true test of vehicle capability, according to an executive with the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center in Cambridge.

“If your vehicle can drive in Massachusetts,” it can drive anywhere, Ryan Harrington, chief of Volpe’s Technology Policy and Innovation division told the Herald.

nutonomy2Along with Volpe, the state is home to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. Nutonomy’s Iagnemma and CTO Emilio Frazzoli have MIT connections.

Devens came to the fore this week at a meeting held in Boston that brought together officials from companies involved with driverless vehicles and robotics research along with Massachusetts’ transportation department and economic development arm.

Representatives from GM, Volkswagen, Lyft, and Zipcar attended the meeting.

Due to its size and links with driverless leaders the Devens site could offer competition to major autonomous vehicle test sites such as Mcity in Michigan, GoMentum in California, and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.

Michigan is preparing to greatly expand autonomous testing with the development of the 330-acre Willow Run site.

The Devens site was the U.S. Army’s New England headquarters for 79 years. It was closed in 1996 as part of military base realignment. MassDevelopment controls the area that now houses 100 business and organizations employing about 4,000 workers.

MassDevelopment says in 2015 it had a hand in nearly 300 projects that generated investment of more than $2.5 billion in the state.

Graphic of Devens by MassDevelopment; photo by NuTonomy.

20 Billion ‘Things’ Will Make Up ‘Internet of Things’ by 2020 (Including Cars)

Jennifer van der Kleut

Six billion things are currently connected to the Internet–and experts say that number will climb to 20 billion within the next four years.

According to Motley Fool, the “Internet of Things” (IoT) is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world today, transforming countless industries such as transportation. If that pace keeps up, IoT is expected to be a $3-trillion industry by 2020.

It’s not just connected cars that IoT is changing, either–the phenomenon touches nearly every aspect of the transportation industry. In the airline industry, the technology is being used to help make airplanes more efficient. Motley Fool explains that General Electric’s Flight Efficiency Systems software has helped AirAsia save more than $50 million in fuel costs over the past five years by analyzing flight data and using it to plan better flight schedules and make other efficiency adjustments.

Other similar programs by GE are used to do much of the same for public buses and railway cars for public transportation systems, and to plan logistics for shipping companies.

The business-to-business (B2B) industry will also benefit greatly from the rise of IoT, the Huffington Post says.

“IoT systems can take the guesswork out of product development by gathering data about how products–including capital goods–actually function and how they are used, rather than relying on customer focus groups,” economist and author Jerry Jasinowski, said in Huffington Post Business on Monday.

Of course, personal communication is already a huge industry, and is growing even bigger with IoT technology. Verizon’s revenue has increased 18 percent year-over-year thanks to IoT, Motley Fool reports.

IoT is allowing planners in the creation of “smart cities,” and the idea is spreading rapidly across the country.

“[Verizon] is considering new cellular plans just for IoT devices,” Motley Fool reports. “The unlimited, flat-rate plans will make it easy and affordable for more cities to expand their IoT solutions, and it’s a clever move on Verizon’s part. Smart cities are expected to bring cost savings and revenue of $1 trillion by 2019.”

Agriculture is another industry that will be transformed by IoT solutions. Monsanto’s “FieldScript” software program allows farmers to connect their fields to the internet and, through the software, see useful analytics that tell them when, where, and how much they should be planting.

What’s more, “John Deere offers a Field Connect system that allows farmers to monitor air and soil moisture levels, wind speed, solar radiation, humidity, rainfall, and even leaf wetness. By analyzing this information, farmers can make better-informed irrigation decisions, saving time and money on watering costs,” Motley Fool explains.

For investors, IoT certainly seems to be a gold mine as well–and the financial experts at Motley Fool say the $3 trillion-by-2020 estimate may even be on the conservative side.

“For investors looking for the ‘next big thing,’ the Internet of Things certainly looks like a good option. Tech companies, conglomerates, agricultural companies and wireless providers alike all see the value in the Internet of Things — now it’s time for investors to get on board,” they report.


Mobileye and Nvidia Battle for ADAS Lead

The Driverless Transportation (D20) Stock Index rose 3.5 percent last week and closed at 148.20. With 19 gainers and Blackberry (BBRY) unchanged, the D20 more than doubled the 1.6 rise of the S&P 500 which closed the week at 2080.73. The D20 also easily topped the Dow’s 1.8 percent increase. The Dow closed Friday at 17898.46.

The largest D20 gainer last week was Mobileye (MBLY) which jumped nearly 7 percent to finish at $40.04, its first close over 40 since the first of the year. Mobileye continues to draw the attention of automakers with Volkswagen (VLKPY) following GM’s (GM) lead and inking a deal with the Israeli company to provide sensors to assist in real-time mapping.

Storm clouds may loom on the horizon for Mobileye as Nvidia (NVDA) unveiled plans to move into advanced driver assistance solutions (ADAS). The battle between higher priced GPU-based ADAS solutions, like Nvidia’s, versus Mobileye’s less expensive software intensive solution will only grow fiercer in the coming months. Nvidia’s stock has risen 44 percent since mid-February and closed last week at $37.13.

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

Cohda Steps Up for Connected Test, Smart City Challenge

Burney Simpson

Australia-based Cohda Wireless is providing its hardware and software for the $50 million Smart City Challenge and for a connected vehicle test in South Carolina sponsored by US Ignite.

In the Smart City Challenge, Cohda and its partner NXP Semiconductors will jointly provide to the winning city their Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) and Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) modules and development tools.

The wireless modules allow vehicles to securely exchange information with each other and road infrastructure. Proponents of connected vehicle technology say it will lead to safer roads as drivers and their vehicles receive information on road, weather, and traffic conditions.

The Smart City Challenge is a national competition led by the U.S. Department of Transportation designed to develop the connected city of the future. The DOT announced seven finalists in March – Austin, Columbus, Denver, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Portland, and San Francisco.

NXP, a supplier of Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) technology, last year reported it owned 23 percent of Cohda (See “Lear’s Arada Buy Expands V2X Line”). Cisco Systems is also an investor in Cohda.


The connected vehicle test on 10 miles of Interstate I-85 in South Carolina will use Cohda’s MK5 onboard units and roadside units for V2V and V2I communications.

Clemson University is overseeing the test on the South Carolina Connected Vehicle Testbed (SC-CVT) near the school’s International Center for Automotive Research (ICAR) campus in Greenville.

Cohda says its products are used in more than 60 per cent of all V2X field trials worldwide.

Sponsor US Ignite is a not-for-profit backed by the White House Office of Science and Technology and the National Science Foundation (NSF). Transportation is one of its six priority areas.

The I-85 project received a $600,000 grant last year from the NSF. The Foundation reports that the U.S. Department of Transportation will “likely require” by 2020 that all new vehicles be connected vehicles “capable of communicating with other vehicles and roadside infrastructure through wireless communications.

The Program Manager is John Brassil of the NSF’s Computer and Network Systems division. The Lead Investigator is James Martin, an associate professor with Clemson’s School of Computing.

eTrans Launches V2X Software for Automated, Connected Vehicle Apps

eTrans Systems, a leading developer of software solutions for connected and automated vehicles, has launched VSDP, a revolutionary new V2X Software Development Platform.

VSDP provides tools for the rapid development, testing and maintenance of cutting-edge V-to-Everything (V2X) and Dedicated Short-Range Communications (DSRC) solutions. It features robust apps for DSRC messaging, input data generation, simulation, and resulting data analysis.

VSDP allows for applications to be coded once for a variety of hardware platforms including Renesas, Cohda Wireless, and Arada/Lear.

Users can apply VSDP’s integrated test environment for testing in the lab, over the air and on the road. This translates into a fast turnaround of system changes. In addition, a variety of display options means quick insight into what is happening within your application.

“With VSDP, companies can cut down their development and test time by over 50 percent,” says Robert Baily, eTrans Systems CTO. “That means faster time to market and lower costs.”

Fairfax, Virginia-based eTrans Systems specializes in the development of secure, connected vehicle systems for driverless cars, connected vehicles, and other technologies. Company founders each have over twenty years of experience in software solutions, software development and testing.

The VSDP consists of three main components:

  • The VSDP Driver is a set of tools for driving input data into applications. It works with both simulated data and captured, over-the-air data, and includes apps to generate over-the-air test data.
  • The VSDP Chassis is an application environment and middleware that handles core V2X functions. Its APIs include ASN.1 message handling and flow, unit conversion and management, and Bluetooth and Ethernet backend communication.
  • The VSDP Mirror offers Display, Analysis, and Data Capture tools for verification of applications.

eTrans’ VSDP is configurable and flexible, and can be installed locally or via the Cloud. Built-in tools allow for communication to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s warehouse and clearinghouse.


SanDisk Unveils SD Flash Card for Connected Cars

Jennifer van der Kleut

Here’s one creative way to customize and upgrade your car’s connectivity features–insert one of SanDisk’s new automotive SD flash cards.

SanDisk recently announced the debut of its new product, which the company says will allow advanced driver assist systems (ADAS), better infotainment and 3D mapping, among other features, to be loaded into compatible cars.

SanDisk’s move is being called a strong one by industry experts, as transportation advances are heavily shifting focus from hardware toward software to keep up with the growth of the “Internet of Things (IoT),” reports ZDNet.

Likewise, tech companies previously only known for their Web, phone and email services, like Google and Apple, are now ranking among major auto manufacturers like Ford, General Motors and Mercedes-Benz when it comes to auto innovation.

Richard Robinson, director of Strategy Analytics’ Global Automotive Practice, noted in a statement that “in-car tech is becoming as important as 0-60 and MPG ratings for car manufacturers, if not more so,” reports InfoStor.

SanDisk agrees.

“The ‘Internet of Things’ is the most dynamic force to impact the automotive and industrial markets in a decade, driving exciting new opportunities for connectivity as well as new challenges for how to store, process and manage the data it creates,” Oded Sagee, senior director of connected solutions at SanDisk, told ZDNet.

ZDNet reports that samples of SanDisk’s new automotive SD flash card will be released in March, and that SanDisk has plans to add the automotive card features to its Industrial and Industrial XT SD card products for IoT.

Valeo’s Intuitive Driving = Autonomous Driving + Connected Car + HMI: a Q&A with Amine Taleb

Editor’s note: This is another in DT’s series of Q&As with leaders in the automated, connected, and driverless vehicle industry.

ATalebMug1Dr. Amine Taleb is the manager of advanced projects for Valeo’s Comfort and Driving Assistance (CDA) Business Group in North America, where he leads the advanced engineering in Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) applications. He has more than 20 years’ experience in advanced technologies with technical expertise in the opto-electronic field. Dr. Taleb graduated from the University of Michigan with a doctorate in Physical Chemistry.  

 Valeo is an automotive supplier dedicated to the reduction of CO2 emissions and to the development of intuitive driving. In 2014, the company generated sales of $16.7 billion. It has 133 production sites, 50 research and development centers and 15 distribution platforms in 29 countries.

Sustainability is a major goal for Valeo. How do you incorporate sustainability in your development of autonomous technology?

Research and development plays a fundamental role in such a goal, by innovating in areas that lead to greener and more efficient mobility. This is why Valeo is focusing its efforts on developing solutions for the reduction of CO2 emissions and pioneering “Intuitive Driving,” which includes autonomous driving as one of its three pillars. The two other pillars are connected car and advanced human-machine interface (HMI). To accomplish this, recruiting the best talent and building a solid expertise foundation are key. In addition, listening to the consumer and partnering with technology leaders, who share common principles, are key towards these goals.

SightstreamCarAValeo in December purchased the German firm peiker, known for its expertise in mobile communications technology. How will this help Valeo as countries build V2V and V2I communications?

The acquisition of peiker is another step on our journey towards the connected car. Peiker is a market leader in automotive telematics connectivity solutions, and coupled with our on-board electronic know-how, it will help us develop innovative vehicle connectivity and telematics solutions. One of the examples in connectivity is V2X, which is gaining more and more traction worldwide, with the U.S. leading the V2V efforts for safety applications. We see V2X as a key element towards the connected and automated car, and also towards smarter mobility. This is very much in line with our vision of Intuitive Driving.

In November you partnered with Capgemini to offer mobility for corporate fleets and car rental firms. Where is this available? How does it work?

Valeo InBlue technology is a vehicle smart-key access system using smartphone technology. One feature is secure virtual key sharing suited for various car-sharing models. Capgemini has an expertise in digital solutions and IT integration that will enable the development of customizable mobility solutions with applications for corporate fleets and car rental.

The InBlue mobility solution will be tested out on a smaller scale with Parcours, a French leasing services company. InBlue is packed with an extensive suite of tools such as vehicle access and start, geo-localization, remote vehicle data access, etc., which will benefit end-users and fleet administrators.

You showcased a number of forward-thinking products at CES 2016. Your Sightstream camera system is designed to replace rear view mirrors. How does Sightstream work? Can this be sold in the U.S. where vehicles must have rear view mirrors? What clients are using the technology?

Sightstream7smallThe Valeo Sightstream camera system relies on the combination of high resolution camera and display to fulfill, to a minimum, the visibility requirements of conventional exterior mirrors. The exterior mounted camera projects the captured rear view scene onto the display located in the interior of the car. Innovations that improve vehicle aerodynamics are one of the keys to achieving the U.S. regulatory fuel efficiency target of 54.5 mpg by 2025. Sightstream enables automakers to improve aerodynamic drag by five percent which improves overall vehicle fuel economy.

Compared to conventional exterior mirrors, Sightstream also provides an enhanced visibility based on its wider field of view, which can potentially lead to the elimination of the blind spot. Other advantages are improved visibility in daytime, nighttime, and even in adverse weather driving. This technology may also increase driver situational awareness when other advanced safety sensors are added.

Rearview mirrors are federally regulated safety devices so any updates to the standards are necessary to allow such technology on the road. The Sightstream camera system utilizes mature technologies already in production. Because of the benefits I have highlighted, and with the maturity of these key components, it is just a matter of time before we would see camera monitoring systems in production cars, potentially as early as 2017 in Europe.

Cruise4U manages steering, accelerating and braking, and it allows drivers to switch between manual and autonomous control. What clients are using this, and when will it be available?

Valeo Cruise4U is a demonstration vehicle that highlights the simple integration of two unique ADAS sensors, namely front camera and Scala laser scanner, which are key building blocks for the sensor fusion architecture of Level 2 and higher automated driving. Both of these sensors are production intent technologies with the Scala to be launched by a major OEM in early 2017. While I am not at liberty to discuss details of any ongoing collaboration we might have with any carmaker, we are a key partner to major OEMs in the development of automated parking and automated driving solutions.

Scala was developed with Ibeo, Mobileye, and IAV. What is Valeo’s approach to partnering with other tech providers?

The Valeo Scala laser scanner provides unique features such as its wide field of view, detection range, high precision in object detection and tracking while driving up to highway speeds. Also, objects in its field of view, moving or not, are classified, thus enabling a precise path planning and maneuver.

The Scala was developed for automotive high-volume OEM applications through our exclusive partnership with Ibeo, a leader in high-tech laser scanner technology for automotive applications. In addition, the front camera, such as the one used on Cruise4U, will take advantage of Mobileye’s EyeQ chip vision technology.

By partnering with IAV, an engineering firm and vehicle integrator, we were able to integrate these advanced sensors in our Cruise4U.

In a very fast moving market, strategic partnerships with world leading companies are essential to effectively build up cutting edge capabilities necessary for autonomous driving technologies.

Your Mobius 2 product also allows for switching from manual to autonomous driving. With Mobius 2 the driver can interact with their tablet or smartphone while in autonomous mode. Is the world ready for this much distraction?

WebviewA-smallOne of the benefits of automated driving is not only to provide safe driving, but also to eliminate the driving boredom of being stuck in a slow-moving traffic or mundane long distance highway driving. Mobius enhances the user experience, while keeping safety in mind. By mirroring the smart device to the instrument cluster during autopilot mode, the driver is able to interact with it using the reconfigurable steering wheel switches. That ensures the driver’s eyes are in the direction of the road and his hands are in proximity of the steering wheel. That allows for a very quick takeover, if requested by the vehicle. That is important, particularly for Level 3 automation.

The Valeo Mobius was tested on a simulator at the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany. Test drivers’ takeover time was measured while interacting with the smart device via the Mobius, versus holding the smart device in their hands while the car was in autopilot. The results have clearly shown that takeover via the Mobius was 500 milliseconds faster than when holding the device in their hands. This could mean life or death at highway speed.

Mobius 2 has a camera monitoring the driver for signs of distraction and fatigue. Has there been pushback from clients/consumers on technology that watches the driver?

WebViewC-smallThe Mobius cockpit concept was subjected to tests by more than 60 end-users during worldwide clinics last year. We have not heard or felt pushback by any of them for having the camera monitoring their distraction or signs of fatigue. On the contrary, and especially in the takeover transition phase from automated to manual, end-users expected to be monitored and validated as capable to take back control of the car. The benefit seen by the driver exceeded the perceived annoyance of being monitored. In our findings, driver monitoring was found to be necessary for the increased trust in automated driving.

Moreover, if we focus on safety benefits of a driver-monitoring camera, in addition to other types of monitoring sensors such as steering wheel sensing in the Mobius, I believe these have an enormous advantage in protecting the driver from being distracted by smartphone and tablet usage while driving in manual mode. Every car should be equipped with such technologies to ensure the “eyes on the road” and “hands on the wheel,” and deter the crashes and fatalities caused by such distractions.

How do you break down doors at auto OEMs that aren’t using your driverless technology?

With our global footprint, and innovation in our DNA, our goal is to be partners with all the major OEMs, as well as emerging ones, in accomplishing autonomous driving. While each OEM might have different strategy towards automated driving, our innovation roadmap allows us to adapt our functions and products for each customer. The Scala is a good example of our strategy as it is the first automotive-grade laser scanner, soon to be on the market for automated driving.

To summarize, the car of tomorrow should be safer, cleaner, and more intelligent, and driving should be more fun and enjoyable. That’s our Intuitive Driving approach.

Thanks Amine.

Harbrick Goes West, Harvests Funds

Burney Simpson

Autonomous driving technology is growing fast, and startups like Harbrick Technologies are growing with it.

The developer of the popular middleware plug-in PolySync has raised money, hired top technology executives, and moved to the West Coast, all in the last quarter or so.

Harbrick’s PolySync provides the ‘back end infrastructure’ for auto OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers as they build, test, and deploy driverless applications. Developers use the platform to reuse code “in a modular and seamless way.”

PolySync reduces costs and shortens product time-to-market for its users, according to Harbrick founder and CEO Joshua Hartung, who says PolySync “provides the platform for the future of DT,” (driverless transportation).

Going into the second half of 2015 Harbrick had grown to where it was partnering with microcontroller chip firm Renesas (fiscal 2015 revenues of $6.9 billion) to develop autonomous products that drew clients from around the globe. This video from Renesas DevCon 15 shows some of the work the firms were conducting.

It was time for the next step.


First, Harbrick successfully garnered funding last November. Hartung wouldn’t name the funder but says it is an early-stage investor that wanted to “invest in a firm like us that innovates and disrupts.”

The money gives us “the kick we need,” Hartung said.

The investment paid in part for a move to Portland, Ore., from rural Moscow, Idaho. The company moved in January and officially began operating in Portland this month.

Moscow was great for a start-up but it was remote, and that meant a lot of remote workers.

“That’s not productive. We needed to move up a step,” said Hartung. The firm has brought on board several executives with a deeper background in autonomous technology.

The new Director of Engineering is Peter Brink, an 18-year Intel veteran who has been working on embedded systems. Hartung says Brink is assuring all Harbrick products meet ASIL – ISO 26262 safety certification for embedded auto software and hardware.

The new Senior Vice President of Worldwide Sale is Stephen Mitchener, most recently with Oracle. Prior to that Mitchener was with Intel Wind River, another embedded software house.

Harbrick is a spinoff of AutonomouStuff, the Morton, Ill.-based provider of autonomous components. The name Harbrick comes from a combination of the last names of Hartung, and Bobby Hambrick, the founder and CEO of AutonmouStuff.

Look Ma, No Accidents … for Google Car

Burney Simpson

The Google self-driving cars had no accidents in January, according to the latest Google monthly report card.

Since 2009, the Google cars have been driven more than 2.4 million miles, with 1,419,672 million in autonomous mode. The driving tests take place in Mountain View Calif., and Austin, Texas.

This January, the cars were put in autonomous mode for 47,561 miles. Through December last year the cars had driven 1,372,111 in the driverless mode, according to Google’s December report.

Google says it now is testing 22 Lexus Rx450h SUVs, and 33 prototypes, the firm’s Koala car. There are 41 vehicles being tested in California and 14 in Texas. The cars average 10,000 to 15,000 miles a week in the autonomous mode on public streets.

The last accident occurred in November when a conventional car going about 4 miles per hour ran into a test car at an intersection. There were no injuries. The test cars have had 17 accidents in six years.

In its January report Google extolled the virtues of its driving simulator that it uses to ‘drive’ in a virtual environment for more than 3 million miles a day.

For example, Google used the simulator to find a more comfortable way to make left turns at intersections. The firm tried out various angles of turning the vehicle, modified its program, and the new angle reportedly is more pleasing to passengers.

Google appears to be keeping separate from its monthly report the statistics it reports on ‘disengagements’ to the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

Disengagement is the term used when the test cars switch from autonomous to manual mode. The switch can be made by the vehicle itself or by the driver, and can be relatively common, triggered by unusual weather and other events, according to Google.

Chris Urmson, Google director of the self-driving car program, said last month that its vehicles had experienced 341 safety disengagements since November, 2014. (See “Google Cars Actually Cede Control to Humans”).

Of those 272 were triggered by Google software and 69 were triggered by the driver.


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