Continental puts the future in motion with new Research and Development centre in Silicon Valley

Continental puts the future in motion with new Research and Development centre in Silicon Valley

New facility supports research and development of mobility innovations and technologies.

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International technology company Continental has opened its new Silicon Valley Research and Development Centre located in San Jose, California. The facility is dedicated to the research and development of mobility innovations and technologies and brings all five of the company's global divisions together in one location.

"Silicon Valley's collaborative environment is the perfect location for cross-divisional innovation development," said Samir Salman, CEO of Continental, North America. "The know-how and inventiveness of our experts puts the future in motion by leading digital technology and developing unique and reliable solutions for large-scale automotive production."

"Thank you to Continental for locating its R&D centre in the capital of Silicon Valley and for your investments here," said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. "Continental will join a vibrant innovation ecosystem of automotive industry giants. I wish them well in the years ahead."

The new 65,000 square-foot facility features large garage bays, laboratories and workspaces and can house more than 300 engineers, programmers, designers and innovation experts working across Continental's five divisions. Continental's engineers will continue to collaborate on advancing technologies to achieve the company's goals of safety, clean energy and holistic connectivity.

Aligning with the global focus of clean energy, Continental will continue to set new benchmarks on fuel efficiency with its latest technology developments in electrification. The Powertrain division drives research and development of hybrid and electric drive components and systems. Along with clean energy, information management inside and outside of the vehicle, holistic connectivity between vehicles and their surroundings, as well as the creation of the holistic human-machine interface is at the heart of the Interior division, which will continue to advance intelligent transportation systems at the new R&D centre, ensuring a smarter interior for a safer, more comfortable and efficient drive. The company's Vision Zero goal drives the Chassis & Safety division with its mission to create a world with zero traffic accidents and fatalities. As a result the company currently develops and produces integrated active and passive driving safety technologies and products, such as sensors and advanced driver assistance systems which are essential for the company's automated driving innovations. The Tire and ContiTech divisions will use the Silicon Valley location to explore new applications for their products, such as hoses and surface material, and look for innovative roles for its rubber and plastics technologies to better serve local customers and to explore new applications for the cars of the future.

"The research and development centre is a part of the global Continental network of over 32,000 engineers, which means it has the power of Continental's technical community behind it," said Kurt Lehmann, Corporate Technology Officer of Continental. "For Continental, this investment was made to develop the ideas of the future and will address the needs of today and tomorrow."

For many years, Continental has had a presence in Silicon Valley and established an office in 2014 to serve as the headquarters for the Continental Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), LLC business unit. The business unit is dedicated to mobility services and developing products such as vAnalytics, a cloud-based service platform for OEMs, dealers and auto repair shops as well as car owners and drivers.

"Growing our Silicon Valley presence will help Continental invest in, develop and produce new technologies and solutions for better, smarter mobility," said Salman. "We recognise the increasingly important role Silicon Valley plays in the automotive world and we want to be closer to this hub of avant-garde thinking."

UK 5*StarS Consortium, led by Horiba Mira, to focus on automotive cyber security

UK 5*StarS Consortium, led by Horiba Mira, to focus on automotive cyber security

Greg Clark MP, Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, has given the green light to 5*StarS as part of the national strategy to establish the UK as a global centre for the development, testing and commercialisation of Connected Autonomous Vehicles.

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5*StarS, which partners Horiba Mira, Ricardo, Roke, Thatcham Research and Axillium Research, will receive grant funding from the UK's innovation agency, Innovate UK, to launch the 'Automotive Cyber Security through Assurance' project. The project will address the increased threat from cyber security with the proliferation of connected and autonomous road vehicles.

Following its successful bid to secure funding, the consortium will research and develop an innovative assurance methodology to assure that connected autonomous vehicles components and systems have been designed and tested to the relevant cyber security standards throughout their whole lifecycle. The ultimate aim of the consortium is to develop a 5 star type consumer rating framework, analogous to existing EuroNCAP type ratings for vehicle safety.

Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark said: "The race for developing connected and autonomous vehicles is accelerating and as a Government we are determined to build on our strengths and ensure the UK is at the forefront of this revolution.

"We have an excellent record in innovation in the UK and through our Industrial Strategy, we will build on our strengths so the UK auto sector remains world-leading. That is why we have announced support today for 5*StarS as schemes like these will be key to turning research and development into anchoring future production."

Chris Reeves, Head of Connected Autonomous Vehicles at Horiba Mira, said: "This project is a major step forward in not only clarifying the risks associated with connected autonomous vehicles for the insurance industry, but also in increasing consumer confidence. The project will also help to realise the commercial opportunity connected autonomous vehicles bring for the UK, and we're delighted to lead a consortium of global players capable of addressing this major emerging challenge."

Peter Shaw, chief executive at Thatcham Research, said: "Car security, and specifically cyber security, is one of the top concerns of UK insurers. We are increasingly seeing more connected vehicles launched every month, whether that is loaded with a new app, or the ability to connect with the Cloud to access data. Wherever there is a digital element in the car, it is vulnerable to attack. Consumers and insurers need to know what potential risk this connectivity has. The 5*StarS system will provide this, as well as drive car manufacturers to continually strive to improve car security."

Over £109 million of funding for driverless and low carbon projects

Over £109 million of funding for driverless and low carbon projects

Government drives funding of more than £109 million to driverless and low carbon projects across the UK.

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On April 11, Business Secretary Greg Clark and Transport Minister John Hayes awarded £109.7 million of government funding, alongside significant funding from industry, to help develop the next generation of driverless and low-carbon vehicles, as part of the Industrial Strategy and the government's Plan for Britain.

Seven innovative projects will share grants from the latest round of funding from the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC), the joint industry-government programme to put the UK at the forefront of low carbon vehicle technology.

The projects, led by BMW, CNH Industrial, Ford Motor Company, Jaguar Land Rover, Penso Consulting, Westfield Sportscars and Williams Advanced Engineering, cover a wide range of new innovations which will help the UK to continue to build on its excellence and become a global leader in low-emissions technology, and safeguard 2,370 jobs in the UK.

Successful schemes include:

  • The development of a high power battery suitable for high-performance vehicles
  • A project to address gaps in and strengthen the UK supply chain
  • The development of the fuelling system for a concept gas tractor
  • Technologies to reduce the weight and improve electrification in SUV vehicle platforms

A further seven projects have won funding from the government's Office for Low Emissions Vehicles (OLEV) to advance the development of a range of ultra-low and zero emissions vehicle technologies in the UK. These projects will be led by Equipmake, Ford Motor Company, Great British Sports Cars, Jaguar Land Rover, Ricardo Innovations, Romax Technology and Wrightbus.

In a fresh commitment to supporting these innovative technologies, the government is also announcing today that people buying an electric vehicle will continue to benefit from up to £4,500 off the cost of an ultra-low emission car, up to £2,500 off a hybrid and receive £500 towards the installation of a charge point in their home.

Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark said: "Low carbon and driverless cars are the future and as a Government we are determined through the Industrial Strategy to build on our strengths and put the UK at the forefront of this revolution. Investment in this technology is an integral part of this Government's efforts, to ensure the UK auto sector remains competitive and world-leading.

The projects being awarded funding today will help extend our excellence in these cutting edge research fields, helping to safeguard jobs while ensuring the UK remains the go-to destination for automotive excellence."

Transport Minister John Hayes said: "I am absolutely committed to improving air quality and reducing pollution in towns and cities, which is essential for people's health and the environment.

This government is investing £109 million to support British businesses in developing innovative, important technologies which will greatly reduce our emissions footprint.

The number of ultra-low emission vehicles on our roads is at record levels and our renewed support for these exciting technologies is yet another significant milestone."

The announcements follow the launch of the first phase of government's £100 million CAV test bed programme at the end of March with a competition worth £55 million. In a speech to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Connected Conference in London, the Business Secretary outlined plans to create a cluster of excellence in CAV testing along the M40 corridor between Birmingham and London.

The test bed programme forms part of the government's Industrial Strategy commitment to develop world-class CAV testing infrastructure. The programme will use some of the UK's existing CAV testing centres to create a concentrated cluster of testing facilities in the UKs automotive heartland in the West Midlands, including; Coventry, Birmingham, Milton Keynes as well as Oxford and London.

Through the launch of the Industrial Strategy green paper and the Plan for Britain, the government has significantly increased investment in research and development and reaffirmed its commitment to ensuring the UK remains a world-leader in science and innovation ahead of the UK leaving the EU. This year OLEV will be publishing its long term strategy for the UK's transition to zero emission vehicles.

Word-first virtual testing facility to significantly reduce vehicle development time

Word-first virtual testing facility to significantly reduce vehicle development time

World-first network of virtual testing links six of the UK’s leading physical powertrain research facilities.

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The Advanced Propulsion Centre's (APC) Spoke community launched the World's first network of virtual testing facilities, allowing the automotive industry to significantly reduce the research and development process of low-carbon propulsion technologies – resulting in significant cost savings enabling innovative SMEs to thrive.

The ground-breaking Multi User Systems Testing Environment for Research programme, known as MUSTER, uses advanced Hardware-in-the-Loop technology to connect each of the APC's six Spoke sites. This allows SMEs and academics across the UK to virtually access a full suite of vehicle testing equipment and simulate an entire powertrain in real time.

A £3.5 million project funded through APC working with industry, MUSTER removes the financial and logistical barriers often faced by SMEs developing new technologies. The facility gives smaller organisations access to the latest physical and virtual testing equipment, and allows them to test prototypes at an early stage of development, saving time and cost in the long term. The open access system is also designed to give SMEs the edge and remain competitive, helping their innovations to reach the commercialisation stage.

Chief Executive, APC, Ian Constance said: "Our Spoke community brings together academia and industry to share best practice, expertise and facilities in the UK.

"True to this ethos, MUSTER will provide open access to an infrastructure of six world-leading test facilities throughout the UK, significantly reducing research and development time and costs allowing SMEs to become more competitive and engage with academia, while providing the UK with unique facilities to attract further investment from leading research companies around the globe."

APC's Spoke community consists of over 490 industrial and academic organisations and is coordinated by six universities – Bath, Brighton, Loughborough, Newcastle and Nottingham and Warwick. Five of the Spokes are centres of excellence for an aspect of future powertrain development, including electrical energy storage, internal combustion engine thermal, and systems, efficiency and power electronics. While the Digital Engineering and Test Spoke, led by Loughborough, aims to bring the latest in digital solutions to half the time and cost of bringing these technologies to market. The combination of physical and virtual testing equipment that each Spoke makes available through MUSTER will be relevant to its specialism.

In collaboration with industry and other research organisations, the APC Spoke network will deliver the MUSTER programme over three years. So far the programme has supported the creation of eight PHDs.

Created in a unique partnership between government and industry, the APC exists to position the UK as a centre of excellence for low carbon propulsion development and production. It provides access to £1 billion funding to support the collaboration between organisations that have innovative technologies with companies that can bring them to market.

Continental gestures to a safer future

Continental gestures to a safer future

Combination of gesture interaction and touchscreen reduces driver distraction and increases attentiveness while driving.

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To improve non-verbal communication between drivers and their vehicles, the international technology company Continental has devised a range of user-friendly touch gestures for the cockpit. Thanks to a combination of gesture interaction and touchscreens, drivers can draw specific, defined symbols on the input display to instantly trigger a diverse array of functions and features for rapid access.

"The use of gestures and system control through haptic methods allows drivers to access controls and functions much faster than with conventional control concepts involving buttons and switches. But there is still potential for drivers to get distracted. By combining both elements we can significantly reduce levels of driver distraction compared with the standard method using a touchscreen," explained Dr. Heinz Abel, head of Cross Product Solutions at Continental's Instrumentation & Driver HMI business unit.

Drivers can enable touch gesture interaction simply by touching the display with two fingers. Additional actions such as activating handwriting mode are not necessary. When touch gesture interaction is enabled, you can, for example, use two fingers to draw a heart symbol to access a favorite contact or a house roof symbol telling the navigation system to drive home. And by drawing a circle, you can turn on the air-conditioning system in your apartment while you are on your way home. "To ensure that such concepts are accepted, it is important that the gestures used are intuitive and do not have to be specially learned. At the same time, it should be possible to draw the gestures without getting distracted from the task of driving, and the gestures should be easy to remember. Current, in-house user studies prove that we have succeeded on both counts," said Dr. Abel.

A lab study conducted by Continental showed, among other things, that two-finger gestures can reduce the length of time required to call up the desired features and functions by around one third. Another result was that, compared with one-finger touch gestures, two-finger touch gestures reduced the mental effort involved in operation to around one quarter.

Two-finger touch gestures can be drawn anywhere on the touch-sensitive surface of the input display, with drivers hardly having to avert their eyes from the road; this ensures intuitive and user-friendly operation. At the same time, this concept extends the conventional human–machine dialogue by allowing users to create favorites that can be accessed directly at the first menu level. "Our touch gestures cover the most frequently used functions in vehicle–driver communication, while, quite incidentally, the new approach makes the system much more fun to use as well," said Dr. Abel, summarising the benefits of this new concept.

VW Group, Mobvoi collaborate on AI technologies for Chinese car owners

VW Group, Mobvoi collaborate on AI technologies for Chinese car owners

Joint venture to develop automotive applications based on Mobvoi’s cutting edge voice recognition and natural language processing technologies.

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Volkswagen Group China and Mobvoi, a leading Chinese artificial intelligence (AI) company, have entered a strategic partnership to develop and implement AI technologies in cars. Top executives from the two companies signed a contraction on March 30 for a 50:50 joint venture between VW China Investment (VCIC) and Mobvoi targeting at automotive market. With this transaction VW Group committed an overall investment of $180 million into the joint automotive activities and further growth story of Mobvoi.

The new joint venture will develop and apply AI technologies to automotive industry. Utilising Mobvoi's leading voice recognition, natural language processing technologies, vertical search and proactive search, together with VW's position as an automotive and mobility player, the joint venture shall continue to explore and provide the answer to the future smart mobility.

Prof. Dr. Jochem Heizmann, Member of the Board of Management of VW as well as President and CEO of VW Group China, said: "This partnership is a particular example of VW's determination to work with groundbreaking Chinese tech companies like Mobvoi. We are impressed by Mobvoi's innovative approach of AI technology, and we are pleased to form this joint venture to explore the next generation of smart mobility. With the new joint venture we promote people oriented mobility for our customers in China, along with the potential to be adopted globally."

Mobvoi Founder & Chief Executive Officer Zhifei Li said: "We are very honoured to form this strategic partnership with VW Group, the world's automotive giant who always values new technologies and never stops pioneering in future mobility experience. Mobvoi's mission has always been re-defining the next generation human-machine interaction and this joint venture will provide us a new platform to do so together with VW Group. Mobvoi will keep developing cutting edge AI technologies and look forward to bringing carowners the unparalleled user experience.

This strategic partnership represents a key milestone in VW Group China's efforts towork with local partners to lead the new era of digitalisation and sustainable mobility solutions. It will provide its customers in China with the convenience of AI technology, a key component for the development of autonomous driving and to make daily use of a car even more convenient and to foster the accessibility of mobility for more and more people.

The joint effort between Mobvoi and VW is a milestone for both AI and Automotive industries. This partnership has shown Mobvoi's endeavors to integrate its leading AI technologies to consumers' daily life by establishing cross-industry partnerships. The in-vehicle experience of human machine interaction is one of the key focuses of Mobvoi. Through the partnership with VW Group China, many car owners will soon experience the difference the new technologies can bring.

The new joint venture will develop products for a wide range of VW Group models as well as other brands. Initial products will include Mobvoi's existing smart rearview mirror, which provides navigation, POI (points of interest) search, instant messaging, and on-board infotainment via voice input. In addition to VW Group models, the joint venture partners believe the technologies will be highly attractive throughout the automotive industry and are open to developing products for other brands.

The partnership with Mobvoi is the latest in a series of cooperative initiatives formed by VW Group China in the past 12 months under its TOGETHER – Strategy 2025. The Group is continuing to explore further collaborations with leaders in a range of fields as it seeks to transform from a car manufacturer to a leading provider of people-oriented mobility solutions.

Mitsubishi Electric's new intelligent-GUI TFT-LCD module combines enhanced graphics with cost-cutting GUI design

Mitsubishi Electric's new intelligent-GUI TFT-LCD module combines enhanced graphics with cost-cutting GUI design

Mitsubishi Electric Corporation has announced the immediate launch of a new intelligent-GUI (graphical user interface) TFT-LCD module featuring a high-quality graphics board and touch panel.

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The graphics board, equipped for video camera image processing/display and interchangeable GUI, delivers broad graphical-expression capabilities while reducing needs for GUI-design development resources.

Mitsubishi Electric will exhibit its intelligent-GUI TFT-LCD module during the 20th Embedded Systems Expo (ESEC Spring) at the Tokyo Big Sight exhibition complex from May 10 to 12.

Product Features

1) Camera image processing for rich graphical design
- Sesamicro, Mitsubishi's proprietary compact, high-speed intellectual property (IP) core for GUI, enables quick camera-image processing, such as rotation, mirror images, and cropping to various shapes
- Rich graphics can be realised by rotating camera images and combining them with other graphics

2) GUI image-switching function reduces need for GUI-design development resources
- GUI are easily interchangeable for different languages, day/night use, etc., by changing all widget (buttons, slide bars and other GUI components) image files
- Integration of conventional screen configurations helps lowers cost and time of GUI design

3) Drastically reduced user's system development costs
- One-stop solution (graphics board, touch panel and LCD module) is combined with Mitsubishi's proprietary tool for GUI design, Intelligent GUI Designer
- Simplified GUI configuration process can significantly lower software-development costs by up to 50% (according to an actual comparison made by Mitsubishi Electric)

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