Porsche Digital opens location in Silicon Valley

Porsche Digital opens location in Silicon Valley

Porsche is taking the next step in its digitalisation campaign, opening a new site in Santa Clara, in California's Silicon Valley.

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Above all, the aim is for Porsche Digital to work in partnership with innovators and leaders in new technologies, as well as cooperate with venture capital companies. Porsche also wants to invest directly in new companies that offer ideas and solutions for the digital future. Porsche Digital, Inc., the US subsidiary of Porsche Digital GmbH, is set to employ around 100 people.

Its mandate is to recognise digitalisation strategies and trends in the US market more quickly and to be able to develop and test solutions for Porsche – making its proximity to technology enterprises and start-ups of particular importance. The office will focus on the topics of digitalisation, connectivity, and smart mobility.

"The car is the ultimate mobile device of the future, and the future is being written in Silicon Valley," said Thilo Koslowski, Managing Director of Porsche Digital. "This means it is particularly important to be right next door to leading IT companies in the USA, as this allows us to identify trends early and invest in new technologies at the right time. In addition to our own potential for innovation, above all we want to form strong partnerships." The company has already invested in the venture capital fund "E.ventures US." In the future, these activities will be intensified and expanded by the office in Santa Clara.

Porsche Digital is the competence centre for digitalisation

After founding Porsche Digital GmbH based in Ludwigsburg, opening a US subsidiary was the next logical step in Porsche's digitalisation strategy, said Koslowski. "In order to tailor the Porsche experience to the specific needs of our customers, we need to recognise the innovations that are relevant to us and bring them to the market as intelligent and fascinating offerings." Before joining Porsche, Koslowski spent 20 years working in Silicon Valley for the high-profile US market research company Gartner. He is an expert in the automotive industry as well as the Internet and technology sector.

Porsche Digital is the competence centre for digitalisation where new value creation models and innovative digital product ranges are defined and implemented in close cooperation with Porsche companies globally. Its tasks also include worldwide scouting; it will identify and evaluate trends, ensuring Porsche has access to all relevant technologies. Porsche Digital sees itself as an interface between Porsche and innovators all over the world. In addition to sites in Ludwigsburg and Berlin, and the new subsidiary in Santa Clara, there are plans to establish additional affiliates in key innovation centres around the world, such as in Asia.

Siemens launches high power charging system for EVs

Siemens launches high power charging system for EVs

New high power charging system charges current and future electric vehicles in less than ten minutes for a 100 kilometre range.

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With an output of 150 kilowatts, the new generation of the Siemens high power charging system is capable of charging current and future electric vehicles with voltages of up to 920 volts. This means that a charging time of just ten minutes will enable electric vehicles to travel distances of over 100 kilometres. Up to three electric vehicles in compliance with the main charging standards CCS, CHAdeMO and Type 2 can be charged in parallel.

These high charging speeds are made possible by the perfectly synchronised Siemens hardware and software of the Sinamics DCP and Simatic S7 industrial components coupled with charging controller ECC3000. The Siemens software enables connection to charging management systems of operators while ensuring highest data and IT security. Remote access using Sinema Remote Connect not only ensures short response times but also supports rapid, low-cost servicing and optimised preventive maintenance through data analysis.

Welcome to the future of transportation  ̶  underground roads!

Welcome to the future of transportation ̶ underground roads!

Elon Musk has announced a futuristic vision of transportation involving underground roadway systems beneath bustling cities such as Los Angeles.

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The venture that will make it all happen, called 'The Boring Company', will rely on a vast network of tunnels (hence 'boring') and has been dubbed "amazing and impossible" by commentators.

A brief concept video posted to YouTube shows a flash red Tesla vehicle amidst gridlocked traffic. The 'game changer' appears in the form of a futuristic metal elevator that lowers the Tesla underground to a road network in which individual cars are transported at high speeds on metal trolley-like platforms between destinations – doing away with traffic and associated collisions.

"As with most radical innovations today, science fact was once science fiction. If we're going to help design the future of transport, we have to be able to envision it," commented Aurecon's Chief Innovation Officer John McGuire.

Global engineering and infrastructure advisory company Aurecon is currently working on a multitude of city-shaping tunnel projects that will see communities transformed as we help enhance their connectivity and liveability. These projects include Melbourne's transformational Metro Tunnel project featuring two 9 km tunnels and five new stations added to the city's underground rail network; Sydney's WestConnex New M5 with 9 km-long twin tunnels from Kingsgrove to a new interchange at St Peters; and Auckland City Rail Link: a 3.4 km underground rail line consisting of twin driven tunnels.

In the commentary below, Aurecon Tunnelling Expert Tom Ireland weighs in on whether Elon's vision really is as impossible as it sounds...

Overcoming mobility challenges

"Many of the world's largest cities have reached their capacity to absorb new infrastructure 'on the ground'. These cities are looking at solutions – both above and below the ground – to overcome mobility challenges.

"Navigating through long-established built form can be technically and aesthetically challenging, so creating below the ground transport networks such as underground rail and road tunnels is high on many cities agendas, and these projects are currently transforming cities around the world.

"Musk's futuristic tunnel system is ambitious and innovative. Going underground makes sense and many cities have vast tunnel networks beneath heavily populated areas, for example, the London Underground – so we know it can work. His vision presents an exciting alternative to our gridlocked present," commented Ireland.

Solving the cost conundrum

"A project of this scale would transform the face of transport as we currently know it. A major barrier will be cost, however, we live in a complex transport environment where multi-modal solutions must be on the table and, for some of the world's largest cities, this solution could be an attractive option," he added.

"Historically there are three elements that make up the cost of tunnel boring: equipment, materials and labour, each making up roughly a third of the cost. If we see significant enough advances in tunnel boring and new materials (perhaps at the heart of Musk's invention) cost will likely decrease sharply and make Musk's futuristic tunnel system more achievable. This will involve a move away from concrete towards a higher strength, lighter weight material for lining tunnels and may even encompass 3D printing this lining as part of the tunnel excavation cycle.

"In terms of underground trains, it's the stations that represent the most significant network cost. Related to accessing the type of tunnels Musk suggests, we'll need to ensure the mechanisation of the lifts that transport cars underground is cost-effective and quick."

Rethinking traditional design

Traditionally, tunnels are designed to integrate a large amount of safety equipment. Elon's proposal, in which cars are propelled forward by electric trolleys, renders much of this safety equipment unnecessary. The absence of the risk of petrol and diesel vehicle emissions, the autonomous control of the vehicles, and the need for increased power supply for such a network represents a paradigm shift in terms of the design of tunnels. In addition, specialised electronic equipment such as high speed trolleys will need to be designed and tested as well as corresponding intelligent control equipment/systems. Reduced tunnel size will also reduce costs and speed up construction – all highlighting a need to rethink traditional design.

ŠKODA goes live with first digital showroom

ŠKODA goes live with first digital showroom

Customers can access the ŠKODA Live Tour on their computer, tablet or smartphone – and gain the showroom experience at a time and place that suits them.

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ŠKODA Live Tour instantly connects the customer to a ŠKODA Product Host by an internet video link, who takes them into the Live Tour showroom and introduces the ŠKODA models. 

On the ŠKODA website www.skoda.co.uk, prospective customers now have the possibility of engaging in an online consultation with a ŠKODA Product Host to experience the brand's latest models. A simple button on the product homepage allows users to request an immediate callback or arrange an appointment at a time convenient to them.

"Customers are seeking convenience and excellent service when looking to make a car purchase, and with more and more people doing their research online ahead of going to the showroom, the ŠKODA Live Tour brings the retail experience to a digital world that is easily accessible", says Jonathan Harris, ŠKODA New Retail Concepts Manager.

"Our ŠKODA Product Hosts in the Live Tour essentially become our customer's eyes and ears and use a series of static and handheld cameras to give the retailer experience all through an online platform.
Jonathan adds: "This is an important step for the brand and the future of automotive retail and how we interact with customers. Once we have opened up dialogue with the customers in the online environment, we then encourage them to visit a ŠKODA retailer and test drive our models for real."

ŠKODA Live Tour utilises Whisbi's cloud-based conversational technology to bring the real retailer experience online. Through the use of live video streaming, the customer is instantly connected to the Live Tour and a Product Host who uses a mix of smartphone camera and static cameras to showcase the details of the cars.
The consultant can present the exterior and interior of the vehicle, demonstrate 'Simply Clever' features, explain details such as the infotainment-system menu, and answer specific questions. If the potential buyer is interested in the boot, the Product Host can take them to the rear by mobile camera and demonstrate the loading space live.

During the conversation in the Live Tour, the Product Host can assist the customer in the online configuration of their desired vehicle and then search for a local ŠKODA retailer. The ŠKODA Product Host can also request an appointment for a test drive in person at the customer's retailer of choice. The customer can input text via a chat window, for example, to confirm their name, address or email address.

The new ŠKODA Kodiaq and recently facelifted Octavia are ready for live presentation in the first online showroom. This gives users an exciting preview of the brand's first large SUV. The ŠKODA Product Host can present the Kodiaq or Octavia to customers in detail, and can carry out the configuration with them directly.

Intelligent Energy takes technical lead in programme to further develop fuel cell stack for future mass manufacture

Intelligent Energy takes technical lead in programme to further develop fuel cell stack for future mass manufacture

A programme has launched to provide a blueprint to enable fully automated future mass manufacture of fuel cell stacks for the automotive market.

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Intelligent Energy is the programme's technology lead with overall coordination provided by CEA Tech-Liten. The two companies will front a pan-European industry group to further commercialise fuel cells for the mass automotive market.

The programme, named DIGIMAN, is a €3.5 million programme, receiving funding from the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU) under the EU programme Horizon 2020, which will focus on creating a robust platform for future stack production for zero emission vehicles. Also involved in the three year programme are Freudenberg Performance Materials SE&Co.KG, WMG at the University of Warwick, and Toyota Motor Europe. The latter will be responsible for best practice requirements for future automotive stack production. Project management support and communication activities will be provided by the SME Pretexo.

Representatives from the partner organisations gathered at Intelligent Energy's Loughborough headquarters to kick off the scope of work. The programme outputs will demonstrate operational and supply chain cost reduction via seamless integration of digital manufacturing techniques and advanced technology optimised for automated production. Once developed, the blueprint design will enable build-to-print machine configurations with ready to scale production capacity to meet future requirements of more than 50,000 fuel cell stacks by 2020.

Intelligent Energy's Head of Manufacturing, Richard Peart said: "Hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicles are available now, but to continue to drive customer adoption, we need to ensure future fuel cell stacks are robustly industrialised and remain cost competitive in the future. The programme will bring significant opportunity to further develop Intelligent Energy's proprietary Air Cooled fuel cell architecture. Additionally, as Intelligent Energy's Air Cooled fuel cell stack technology operates across multiple products and applications, the project will benefit commercialisation within multiple market sectors, including stationary power and drones."

Martin Bloom, Group CEO at Intelligent Energy, added: "As the adoption of hydrogen technologies continues to gather pace, Intelligent Energy is ideally placed to be the technical lead on this programme. With the wealth of experience we have in this area resulting from our on-going joint manufacturing venture with Suzuki (SMILE), in addition to almost 30 years of fuel cell development, we have the know-how and capability to ensure we support and mobilise this ecosystem of partners."

Bart Biebuyck, Executive Director of the FCH2 JU, said: "The reduction of the production cost of fuel cell systems to be used in transport applications is one of the five techno-economic objectives of the FCH, and Digiman fully contributes to the overall strategy. The project will indeed improve the manufacturing techniques by reducing the production time and costs, and increase the quality levels of PEMFC stacks. The project, which gathers industry, academia and research centres, is contributing to maintain Europe at the competitive edge on the key technologies for clean transport."

This project has received funding from the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2 Joint Undertaking under grant agreement No 736290. This Joint Undertaking receives support from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, Hydrogen Europe and N.ERGHY.

Mobility services a major growth market of the future for Continental

Mobility services a major growth market of the future for Continental

Developments in technology for safer, efficient, and intelligent mobility.

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At technology company Continental's Annual Shareholders' Meeting, CEO Dr. Elmar Degenhart presented cutting-edge technologies for the future of mobility. "The political environment and our industries are changing faster than ever before. Seldom has there been such an exciting and promising time for Continental to shape the future," commented Degenhart in front of more than 1,000 attendees, as he discussed the general conditions in which Continental is working. He talked about the role that the 227,000-plus employees play in keeping people and goods mobile. "Continental is protecting millions of road users around the world from accidents and their consequences every day. Continental contributes to cleaner air. Continental is paving the way for safe, efficient, and intelligent mobility." Degenhart cited mobility services as a new growth market. Continental plans to double its current sales of €500 million with mobility services alone by 2020.

"Many things will be different about the car of the future. But one thing will be exactly the same: safe contact with the road."

In the coming years, Continental is anticipating that industries and markets will undergo fundamental change. The company is working on essential changes to technologies and business models "Electrification, automation, and digitalisation – the inner workings of the car as we know it will, in the upcoming 15 years' time, be made up of completely different components," Degenhart asserted. "Mobility and the way in which it is delivered are becoming increasingly sustainable as a result. That means safer, more efficient, and more intelligent – with the support of Continental," he emphasised. One essential principle of safe mobility, however, will remain solid, reliable contact with the road. Degenhart presented the "star of the summer tire range," the test-winning PremiumContact 6, which is exceptionally efficient and "safely keeps your vehicle in its lane and brings it to a safe stop."

Clean and efficient vehicle drives: fully electric or electrically assisted

For drive systems, Continental sees a trend toward electrification in all vehicle classes. "Cars of the future will feature electric drives. But the combustion engine is evolving, too, and still has its peak ahead of it. We don't expect to see a gradual decline in volumes for gasoline and diesel engines until after 2025," commented Degenhart, confirming the importance of the internal combustion engine on the journey toward electrified mobility. The 48-volt "people's hybrid" is making highly efficient gasoline and diesel engines more environmentally friendly.

Degenhart sees clear opportunities for growth in electrification: "We are able to generate greater sales per vehicle with our components and systems for electric cars than with solutions for combustion engine drive systems. But there are two main elements that buyers are missing that will ultimately allow the electric vehicle to achieve a breakthrough: greater range and lower acquisition costs. A leap forward in battery-cell technology would be a great help in meeting both requirements. And we expect to see this by 2025."

Vehicle manufacturers are putting their trust in Continental's electrical expertise, with the technology company reporting incoming orders of more than €1.2 billion in 2016 for products and systems for hybrid and electric vehicles.

From the first electronic brake system to the mobility services of the future

After reflecting on 33 years of electronic brake systems, Degenhart then spoke to his audience about assisted, automated, and autonomous driving. One product driving growth in this arena is the new 3D Flash Lidar sensor from Continental. The sensor will capture an accurate and distortion-free three-dimensional map of the vehicle's surroundings for the driver assistance systems using invisible flashes of infrared light. "Dim light, darkness, glare, heavy rain? Our laser beams are your vehicle's sharpest eyes," explained Degenhart, visibly proud of the work of his 32,000-strong development team.

This development work will also lay the groundwork for future fleets of robot taxis – electrically driven, remotely maintained, and reliably on time wherever people need them, for both individuals and groups. In addition to faster wireless communication standards, Degenhart talked about new mobility services, in which Continental aims to play a key role worldwide, as a basis for the vehicle fleets of the future, operating in interconnected clusters. Accordingly, Continental recently opened a new R&D center in San José in Silicon Valley, focusing on new mobility services.

Greater competitiveness thanks to artificial intelligence and Industry 4.0

Degenhart also explained to shareholders the company's strategy regarding the use of artificial intelligence. "We have 100 experts working all over the world in 14 research disciplines to exploit the opportunities of artificial intelligence. We are collaborating in this field with some outstanding institutions, including the University of Oxford and the Technical Universities in Darmstadt and Munich," he said.

Continental is using neural networks for the first time on new cameras in its advanced driver assistance systems. Continental also intends to further optimise production processes with the aid of artificial intelligence. Degenhart continued: "The dimensions of a neural production network with our suppliers and customers are enormous. Last year alone, our three automotive divisions supplied our customers with around 1.8 billion products. This required us to purchase around 122 billion components. They were processed at more than 100 of our plants."

From horsepower and hoof buffers to bits and bytes

On the whole, Degenhart considers Continental, with its history of integrating new technologies and compatible companies stretching back almost 150 years, well prepared for the future of mobility. "We once grew with horsepower and hoof buffers. Nowadays, our growth is driven by billions of bits and bytes. It's a process of transition. Continental the tire manufacturer, automotive supplier, and industrial partner has become Continental the manufacturer of leading technologies and services. This process of ongoing change offers a range of opportunities for us. We are more determined than ever to systematically seize these opportunities," said Degenhart, concluding his speech at this year's Annual Shareholders' Meeting.

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