In a surprising move, Ford and the Volkswagen Group announced today that they are seeking a strategic alliance to increase competitiveness in the segment of commercial vehicles. Representatives of both companies addressed the public explaining that the potential alliance will enable them “to better serve the evolving needs of customers globally.”
NVIDIA Partners Up with Uber and Volkswagen for Vehicle-Based Artificial Intelligence
Add Nvidia to the growing list of tech companies that are diving into the pool that is autonomous driving technology. The California-based computer chip maker is linking up with Volkswagen, Uber, and China-based autonomous driving startup Baidu to expand its involvement in the fast-growing autonomous driving space. Each partnership is independent of the other so Invidia effectively landed three separate deals with three separate companies. The scope of the partnerships differ depending on the company, but all three companies will make use of Nvidia’s state of the art computer chips to launch software systems that fit into their respective plans in the sphere of autonomous driving.
Volkswagen To Spend Some Serious Cheddar On EVs And Self-Drivers
Volkswagen is pushing hard to establish itself as a major player in several forward-looking technologies, namely electric vehicles, hybrids, and self-driving vehicles. It was recently announced that Volkswagen’s supervisory board approved $40 billion to develop EV, hybrid, and autonomous tech through 2022.
Volkswagen Patents Autonomous Driving Technology With Manual Control Options
The recent rise of autonomous driving technology has provided automakers the chance to conjure up new and exciting self-driving technologies in order to make first impressions in the burgeoning segment. Some companies have hunkered down to develop software systems while others have gotten into partnerships to accelerate their own development of the tech. Then there’s Volkswagen, which recently took the first step in developing a technology that allows drivers to configure a car’s automatic drive setup without having to disengage the self-driving mode altogether.
The German automaker filed the patent application in Germany with the main feature being a touch-sensitive control situated at the top of the gear shifter knob. The driver can use the control to manipulate certain automatic drive settings that the car will abide by. For instance, in times where the system detects a situation that needs input from the driver, it presents multiple options on how the driver would want to proceed. These could include speeding up to pass a slow-moving vehicle ahead or queueing behind the vehicle and remaining in the lane. The system recognizes when an option has been chosen through specific hand gestures. Taking from the same example, a driver could swipe horizontally to signal the system to pass the vehicle ahead or swipe vertically if he wants to remain in the same lane.
The patent also details other unique features about the technology, including a ring of lights around the touch screen device that changes hues depending on the urgency of making a decision. A blue hue, for example, could mean that there’s still ample time to make a decision on what the autonomous technology should do and a red hue could mean that a decision has to be made as soon as possible lest the system disengages its self-driving capabilities. There’s also a separate feature located on the gear shifter knob itself, which appears to suggest a feature that allows a driver to disengage the self-driving feature by pressing a button on top of the knob.
The technology isn’t expected to be included in Volkswagen models anytime soon. Since it’s still in the application phase, VW has yet to get a patent over the technology and even if it does receive the green light from the European Patent Office, there’s no telling how quickly the German automaker can develop the technology for actual production use. That said, the patent does highlight the steps VW is making to get ahead of the autonomous driving technology curb.
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EV Cars, Autonomous Technology Highlight Volkswagen’s New Long-Term Strategy
Volkswagen CEO Matthias Muller calls it the “biggest change process in Volkswagen’s history” and, from the scope of the company’s “TOGETHER - Strategy 2025,” the words "biggest change process" might be understating it a little. There are a number of items in the new long-term strategy that stand out, with two of the most significant involving electrification and autonomous driving technology.
According to Volkswagen, electric vehicles will be a huge part of its brand moving forward. It’s even set an objective to launch more than 30 new electric cars by 2025 as part of a bigger goal to sell two to three million EVs on an annual basis. The company’s target is important to take note of because if Volkswagen is successful in reaching its goal, it would represent close to a quarter of its total sales volume.
An equally bold plan is being laid out for autonomous driving technology, which Volkswagen described as another “key issue” in the transformation of its core business. Fitting its status as one of the world’s biggest automakers, VW plans to have autonomous driving vehicles for all relevant segments, and it will pursue this goal by developing an in-house autonomous driving system with a goal of hitting the market at the start of the next decade. This plan calls for investments in the technology that will cost VW billions, and even though it’s still struggling with the fallout from the emissions cheating scandal, it’s still well-equipped to handle the massive costs of going all-in on autonomous driving technology.
Far less ambitious and something for the short term is the automotive giant’s plan to fit its existing gasoline engines with a particulate filter that’s designed to cut particulate emissions by as much as 90 percent. Beginning in June 2017, the Audi A5 and the Volkswagen Tiguan will be the first models to receive the filter. In the long term, Volkswagen plans to use this technology on around seven million units sold annually by 2022.
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