Autonomous & Self Driving Vehicle News: Honda, Zenzic, Aurora, Vay,  LeddarTech & Plus

In autonomous and self-driving vehicle news are Honda, Zenzic, Aurora, Vay,  LeddarTech and Plus.

Honda with Cruise & GM Autonomous Testing in Japan

Honda announced that it will start a testing program for autonomous vehicles in September 2021, taking a step toward an autonomous vehicle mobility service (MaaS) business in Japan, which Honda is planning to launch under collaboration with Cruise and General Motors.

The testing program for autonomous vehicles mobility service technologies will be conducted in Utsunomiya City and Haga Town, Tochigi Prefecture. As the first step to prepare for thorough testing, a high-definition map of the area will be created using a specialized vehicle for mapping. Once the high-definition map is ready, the autonomous vehicle, Cruise AV, will be driven on public roads to develop and test autonomous vehicles adapted to the traffic environment and the relevant laws and regulations in Japan.

Honda and Cruise will jointly work on the testing program, and also it will be pursued at a new operations test site to be established within a Honda facility in Tochigi Prefecture.

Further ahead, Honda aims to launch its autonomous vehicle MaaS business in Japan using the Cruise Origin, a vehicle jointly developed by Honda, Cruise and General Motors, exclusively for autonomous vehicle mobility service businesses. Honda Mobility Solutions Co., Ltd., a Honda subsidiary for MaaS business, will be the operator of such business in Japan.

Honda will strive to create new value for mobility and people’s daily lives by offering its customers the joy of expanding their life’s potential through its autonomous vehicle MaaS business.

Zenzic to Rate AVs

Zenzic, the organization dedicated to accelerating the self-driving revolution in the UK, has announced funding for a proof-of-concept consumer safety rating for Automated Driving Systems, via Thatcham Research and CAM Testbed partners.

Initially, the independent rating will focus on Automated Lane Keeping Systems (ALKS). This technology could see motorists driving hands-free on UK motorways at limited speeds within a year. The goal is that this project will act as a basis for consumer safety rating of future Automated Driving Systems, and it is anticipated that it will later be adopted by consumer safety organisations such as Euro NCAP.

The project, which is funded by the Government’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles, and coordinated by Zenzic, will be led by Thatcham Research, and brings together UK expertise in safety testing. Organisations from the world-leading CAM Testbed UK will work together to develop capabilities and test procedures that will evaluate future connected and automated mobility systems like ALKS. Partners include Automotive Electronics Innovation (AESIN), Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG, the Midland Future Mobility Testbed), HORIBA Mira (Assured CAV) and IDIADA (CAVWAY).

The future independent consumer safety rating scheme will support the safe adoption of Automated Driving Systems by giving UK motorists and insurers greater clarity around the performance and safe use of automated technology. It aims to be the first of its kind in the world to independently rate the performance of Automated Driving Systems and combine virtual and physical testing.

Jonathan Hewett, Thatcham Research Chief Executive, comments, “The advent of Automated Driving promises to bring a host of benefits spanning safety, mobility and the environment. To realise this potential, we are developing an independent consumer safety rating scheme to foster confidence in the technology and its ability to control the vehicle.

“Not all Automated Driving Systems will be made equal. Therefore, an independent consumer safety rating will drive best practice, while helping consumers to make informed choices and trust that it is safe to relinquish control.”

Mark Cracknell, Head of Connected and Automated Mobility at Zenzic said: “Zenzic is pleased to announce the launch of the Consumer Safety Rating project alongside Thatcham Research and partners from CAM Testbed UK. It is an extremely exciting time for CAM, and the aims of this project will not only provide confidence in safety, for both consumers and insurers, but it could also place the UK as a global leader in the introduction, adoption and use of Automated Driving Systems.”

The project aims to have a proof of concept delivered March 2022.

Vay Takes to Streets in Europe

Vay, the world’s leading teledrive mobility company, has announced that it will become the first company with a driverless, certified commercial mobility service operating on public streets in Europe as soon as next year. Operating in stealth mode since its founding in 2018 until today, the company reveals a bold new plan to put ‘teledrivers’ at the steering wheel of vehicles in metropolitan areas.

Our advanced technology enables a person (the “teledriver”) to remotely drive a vehicle (“teledriving”). This allows for a safe and timely rollout of driverless mobility services that users and cities trust as a human is still in full control,” said Vay co-founder and CEO Thomas von der Ohe.

Over time, while serving customers and based on high quality teledriving data, Vay is able to launch autonomous features gradually – starting with the ones that are safe and ready to deploy.

Vay’s fleet of vehicles is already operating with safety drivers across all of Berlin. Recent technological and regulatory advancements will allow Vay to remove the safety driver from its vehicles next year.

Vay’s system is built to be safer than conventional driving by controlling the top four causes of fatal urban accidents, which are speeding, intoxication, distraction, and fatigue. In addition, when compared with conventional driving from within a car, Vay’s teledrivers have augmented skills, including 360-degree blindspot-free vision. Lastly, Vay’s system is engineered to the highest and latest automotive safety and security standards (ISO26262, ISO21434) and has redundancies throughout its system, including the simultaneous use of multiple cellular networks.

As our system does not rely on expensive 360-degree lidar sensors, and is therefore comparatively inexpensive, our way of rolling out driverless vehicles will not only enable consumers to experience driverless mobility sooner, but also provide a highly scalable solution that can be integrated into every car. Having spent 6 years in Silicon Valley, we are now eager to build a global, first-of-its kind, deep-tech company from Europe”, added von der Ohe.

Vay will start by offering the most affordable door-to-door transportation service. People can order a car, which arrives within a few minutes, and then drive themselves to their destination. Upon arrival they will be able to leave the car without having to park it. This will be offered at a fraction of the cost of an Uber ride, which is why Vay believes its service will be highly competitive with owning a car in urban areas.

However, going after urban car ownership is only one objective. Vay’s technology can be applied to many other use cases, ranging from ride hailing to ride sharing, from parcel to food delivery, from buses to trucks, and from mining to construction machinery.

The company’s ambition is to not only bring Europe back to the forefront of the race to develop driverless vehicles that will solve many of today’s transportation challenges, but also to create a new job category: the teledriver.

The teledriver job has significant benefits over taxi or ride-hailing jobs, as teledrivers can work from the same place every day and are paid a fixed income. Vay believes that teledriving will create more inclusive and gender-balanced employment opportunities due to the additional safety of drivers and customers not having to share the same physical space, especially during the pandemic and at night.

Vay’s team wants to address the most pressing issues facing metropolitan areas around the world today, including traffic deaths, air pollution, and high costs of transportation.

Vay has been closely engaged with European and US regulators and policy-makers, who have been supportive because Vay will offer affordable mobility services to citizens who are currently underserved by existing transport solutions, whether that is in city centers, suburban or rural areas. Additionally, introducing sustainable, electric, and highly utilized vehicles means less pollution and less cars in cities.

Vay was founded by Thomas von der Ohe, Fabrizio Scelsi, and Bogdan Djukic in September 2018. The team has previously worked at companies such as Tesla, Google, Waymo, Zoox, Skype, Byton, Argo, Amazon, Uber as well as Audi, BMW, and Daimler. Vay has raised over 30m USD in Series A funding from leading European VCs such as Atomico, Creandum, LaFamiglia, System.One, Visionaries Club, Signals as well as business angels Patrick Pichette (Partner at Inovia Capital, chairman of the board at Twitter, former global CFO at Google), Cristina Stenbeck (Board member of Spotify, chairman of the board at Zalando), Qasar Younis (co-founder and CEO of Applied Intuition, former COO and Partner of Y Combinator), and Formula 1 champion Nico Rosberg. The company has offices in Berlin, Germany, and Portland, OR.

Aurora’s Drives Aurora Driver

Through the experience of integrating the Aurora Driver with eight different platforms and learning from half a dozen OEMs in the process, Aurora has developed a highly refined Driver-vehicle interface and the Aurora Driver Development program, a mature vehicle development, validation, and launch program.

Safely developing vehicles powered by the Aurora Driver for wide deployment is an extremely complex and rigorous multi-phase process. From alignment on core development requirements to implementation, testing, validation, refinement, and, finally, operation and expansion, Aurora designs a deeply integrated purpose-built vehicle for the Aurora Driver through close relationships with Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) or platform partnerships.

The Aurora Driver Development Program was designed with five distinct phases, which include 1) Laying the Foundation, 2) Define and Build, 3) Refine and Pilots, 4) Validate, and 5) Launch and Expand.

Aurora develops self-driving platforms in collaboration with OEMs or platform partners. Aurora has chosen platform partners that share its values, vision, and commitment to delivering the benefits of self-driving technology safely, quickly, and broadly. This foundation is critical to the success of Aurora’s programs, as deployment models, vehicle platforms, and launch timelines with the platform partner are agreed upon during the first phase. This joint approach is not only the safest way to build a deeply integrated vehicle, but it’s also the most efficient way to develop a vehicle Aurora can manufacture at scale at its partners’ facilities.

The Aurora Driver Development Program leverages the “common core” design of the Aurora Driver to simultaneously deliver self-driving long-haul trucks and passenger vehicles. The Aurora Driver “common core” refers to how its hardware, software, infrastructure, and development tools are designed to work across all vehicle types. This commonality ensures that every learning, development, hardware improvement, and cost reduction made to the Aurora Driver benefits every vehicle it powers, which also allows for concurrent vehicle development.

Over the next several weeks, Aurora will have exciting updates to share on its progress toward developing deeply integrated vehicles powered by the Aurora Driver with each of its platform partners.

Aurora Supports Pittsburgh

The self-driving company Aurora announced it will continue to expand its presence in Pittsburgh, naming the city as its official corporate headquarters.

To mark this moment, Aurora is making a $65,000 donation to fund STEM-related requests from Pittsburgh teachers via DonorsChoose – a way to support future generations of technologists as they start the new school year.

The news follows an economic impact report showing that the autonomous industry is creating thousands of jobs in the region.

“With its incredible universities and focus on innovation, Pittsburgh has been home to Aurora since we were founded and we’re committed to continued growth right here in this community. With a firm belief in the future of this city and its workforce, we’re excited to have our corporate headquarters here and be making a donation that will help fund the city’s next generation of technologists and roboticists,” shared Aurora VP of Government Relations Gerardo Interiano.

“Pittsburgh is the birthplace of automated vehicles and Aurora’s headquarters decision further cements our talent and our industry as leaders in this space,” Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf said. “We look forward to further collaboration with Aurora and this industry as we safely and efficiently develop the future of transportation.”

“I am incredibly pleased that Aurora has selected Pittsburgh as its corporate headquarters. Aurora has been an outstanding partner in this city and a critical part of our growing autonomous vehicle economy. Together, we will continue to make Pittsburgh a leader in 21st century mobility,” said Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto.

Through the donation, Aurora is funding a variety of STEM-related projects – helping 3rd graders get supplies for building volcanoes, purchasing a color printer for a 5th grade classroom, and funding a digital microscope, science experiment books, and an incubator for hatching chicken eggs.

“I’m very pleased that Aurora has chosen Pittsburgh for its headquarters. This is another sign of Pittsburgh’s leadership in technology and self-driving vehicles, with the research and workforce infrastructure that companies are looking for. I see this as a strong statement of Aurora’s faith in our community as a great place to do business,” said Congressman Mike Doyle.

“Aurora has called Pittsburgh and Allegheny County home for quite some time, but now it’s official. We are delighted that Aurora has made this decision and welcome the opportunity to continue partnering and working with the company as it builds on the innovation for which it is known,” said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.

With the majority of its 1600 employees in Pittsburgh and a growing team, the company continues to expand its presence in the city. Last year it added new office space on Smallman Street in the vibrant Strip District, along with space at 50 33rd Street, the Crucible building, 85 36th Street, and a test track in Hazelwood.

In addition to Pittsburgh, other Aurora locations include the Bay Area; North Texas; Bozeman, MT; Seattle, WA; Louisville, CO; and Wixom, MI.

SIXT & Mobileye to Offer Autonomous Ride-Haling

During a keynote at IAA Mobility , Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger and Sixt SE Co-CEO Alexander Sixt announced a collaboration to begin offering autonomous ride-hailing services in Munich in 2022. The collaboration between Intel subsidiary Mobileye and SIXT, a leading international provider of mobility services headquartered in Germany, also aspires to scale driverless ride-sharing services across Germany and other European countries later this decade.

Omni Design Tech & LeddarTech

Omni Design Technologies, a leading provider of high-performance, low-power mixed-signal intellectual property (IP) products, and LeddarTech®, a global leader in Level 1-5 ADAS and AD sensing technology, announced their collaboration in next-generation LiDAR SoCs that will enable LiDAR manufacturers to design their solid-state LiDAR products for various end markets.

LeddarTech’s LiDAR SoC integrates analog-to-digital converters (ADC) and a multi-channel analog front-end (AFE) from Omni Design. This SoC will reduce the product development cycle for LiDAR manufacturers and accelerate the path to volume manufacturing of solid-state LiDARs that meet functional safety (ISO 26262 ASIL-B) and reliability (AEC-Q100) requirements.

Many LiDAR manufacturers use discrete devices on a printed circuit board for their prototype and low-volume LiDAR products and need a more integrated solution for their next-generation products. This collaboration integrates Omni Design’s high-performance mixed-signal IP into LeddarTech’s SoC, which is essential to enable mass production of solid-state LiDAR products that meet:

  • Stringent automotive requirements
  • Exceptional performance
  • Lower power consumption
  • Lower cost
  • Smaller form factor
  • Faster time-to-market

“LeddarTech differentiates itself in the market with our sensing technology and our SoC portfolio, which has been deployed with automotive Tier 1/2s as a basis to develop a scalable LiDAR solution for OEMs. In addition, LeddarVision™, our sensor fusion and perception technology, has provided the platform to enable third-party LiDAR integration in the perception stack,” said Mr. Charles Boulanger, CEO of LeddarTech. “We are delighted to be partnering with Omni Design to integrate their IP cores in the next generation of the LeddarCore™ SoC for LiDAR manufacturers as a solution to accelerate their design.”

“Omni Design is delivering high-performance data converters in advanced process nodes to enable the next generation of products in automotive, 5G, and AI markets,” said Dr. Kush Gulati, President and CEO of Omni Design Technologies. “We are pleased to be collaborating with LeddarTech on their next-generation LiDAR SoC to enable mass deployment of solid-state LiDAR in the automotive market by automotive Tier 1s and other LiDAR makers.”

About Omni Design Technologies

Omni Design Technologies is a leading provider of high-performance, ultra-low power IP cores in advanced process technologies that enable highly differentiated systems-on-chip (SoCs) in applications ranging from wired and wireless communications, automotive, imaging, sensors, and the Internet of Things (IoT). Omni Design, founded in 2015 by semiconductor industry veterans, has an excellent track record of innovation and collaborating with customers to enable their success. The company is headquartered in Milpitas, California with additional design centers in Fort Collins, Colorado, Billerica, Massachusetts and Bangalore, India. For more information, visit www.omnidesigntech.com.

Plus Partners with Hennessy Captial

–Plus (formerly Plus.ai), a global provider of self-driving truck technology that recently disclosed its proposed business combination with Hennessy Capital Investment Corp. V (NASDAQ: HCIC), announced that it will collaborate with Teledyne FLIR, LLC on a development project to explore the addition of thermal cameras to the sensor stack used with Plus’s Level 4 autonomous driving technology

Plus takes a multi-modal sensor approach and currently uses lidar, cameras, and radar to provide trucks powered by its autonomous driving technology with a 360-degree view around the vehicle. While the current system offers improved safety compared to a traditional truck, thermal cameras add another layer of perception that is particularly useful for heavy trucks that traverse the country in low-visibility and high-contrast conditions. These can include: nighttime, shadows, dusk, or sunrise; direct sun or headlight glare; and challenging scenarios when fog or smoke is present due to environmental conditions. Depending on configuration, thermal cameras can detect and classify pedestrians at distances of up to 250 meters (>820 feet), which is much farther than the reach of typical headlights. They can also provide another layer of perception around the vehicle, particularly helpful when the vehicle is backing up or when being overtaken by an ensuing vehicle.

“You can never be too safe when it comes to equipment you put on a heavy truck. Combining thermal cameras with our other sensors would bring an additional margin of safety to our system. Our research pilot will not only assess the technical performance but also consider cost and scale requirements in order to potentially add this to our product roadmap,” said Tim Daly, Chief Architect of Plus.

“We are excited to be working with the team at Plus as they explore the integration of thermal cameras into their current sensor suite, creating even safer autonomous commercial vehicles,” said Paul Clayton, General Manager of Components, Industrial Technologies Segment at Teledyne FLIR. “By combining thermal imaging with visible light cameras, lidar, and radar, Plus can create more comprehensive and redundant systems, allowing these vehicles to more readily detect and classify objects and humans on the road to help save lives.”

 

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