Autonomous & Self-Driving Vehicle News: ZF, Motional, Aurora, Toyota, TuSimple, May Mobility & RAF

In autonomous and self-driving vehicle news are ZF, Motional, Aurora, Toyota, TuSimple, May Mobility and RAF.

ZF and EMBARK Acaptive ReAX Steering

Embark Trucks Inc., a leading developer of autonomous technology for the trucking industry, and ZF, a top global Tier-1 supplier, today announced a collaboration to test, validate, and integrate ZF’s ReAX adaptive steering technology to ensure compatibility with the Embark Universal Interface (EUI). This collaboration will enable the validation of the ReAX steering system and core algorithm, ultimately leading to a safer and more performant autonomous technology stack. Both companies pursue an OEM-agnostic approach with the trucking industry, cooperating with both OEM and fleet customers and providing them with the technology to safely operate.

With the EUI, Embark enables carriers to begin trials and deployment of Embark self-driving software on trucks from the carriers’ preferred OEM. The EUI is a set of standardized self-driving modules and the flexible interfaces necessary to more easily and robustly integrate Embark’s autonomous technology onto truck OEM vehicle platforms. The EUI is currently in development for trucks from the four major OEMs in the U.S. – Freightliner, Navistar International, PACCAR, and Volvo – representing the vast majority of the Class-8 trucks on the road nationwide.

Embark has tested ZF technology for four years and this collaboration will take the relationship to the next level. ZF will provide access to the prototype ReAX steering solution and engineering support to Embark, including installation and operation of the system. In turn, Embark will integrate and test ReAX with the EUI, and will relay data and results to ZF in order to promote continued development and improvement of a self-driving system that is compatible across OEM platforms.

INTRODUCING THE TOYOTA SIENNA, POWERED BY THE AURORA DRIVER AND BUILT FOR RIDE-HAILING

In collaboration with Toyota’s world-class engineering team, Aurora has defined the requirements of the self-driving passenger vehicle it intends to commercially launch on ride-hailing networks in late 2024.

Today, Aurora shared the first look of the Toyota Sienna powered by the Aurora Driver, designed for a convenient and comfortable ride-hailing experience. This represents a significant milestone in Aurora’s path to commercializing Aurora-powered Toyota vehicles designed specifically for ride-hailing.

When Aurora announced its long-term, global, strategic collaboration with Toyota earlier this year, they set out to develop a self-driving car for autonomous ride-hailing. Built upon the progress made by Toyota and Uber ATG, and the integration process Aurora established in the Aurora Driver Development Program, they’ve moved faster than anticipated toward their goal. In collaboration with Toyota’s world-class engineering team, Aurora has defined the requirements that will enable the Toyota S-AM, a Hybrid Electric platform to be safely operated by the Aurora Driver.

Aurora is now integrating its Driver with Toyota’s first S-AM vehicles, fresh off of Toyota’s production line. As progress is made with Toyota through the Aurora Driver Development Program, Aurora will expand testing of this prototype, refine it through pilots, validate it in accordance with its Safety Case Framework and Toyota’s own safety standards, and expect to launch it on ride-hailing networks at scale.

Toyota Group companies produce approximately 10 million vehicles a year globally, that are known for being well-designed, safe, reliable, and durable. They’re also deeply invested in the long-term vision of delivering “mobility for all.” Aurora is combining the deep experience of Toyota’s engineering and research teams with its expertise in safely developing a robust autonomous system to conceive a comfortable, convenient, and safe ride experience.

Over the next six months, Aurora will test and mature this initial development fleet in Pittsburgh, Dallas, the Bay Area, and additional locations.///

Motional Invests and Stays in Vegas

Las Vegas has played an important role in Motional’s growth as a global driverless technology leader. It’s home to its public robotaxi fleet, a service that has safely conducted over 100,000 public rides, and is also an important hub for  testing and research.

Motional is now significantly expanding it Las Vegas footprint as we continue to scale up ahead of our 2023 commercial robotaxi deployment. It is are tripling the size of the Las Vegas closed-course testing facility, doubling our operations center, and growing the Las Vegas team by over 100 new employees. This represents Motional’s largest operations investment in the Las Vegas area to date.

Accelerating Testing and Development

A key piece of this investment is ther Las Vegas testing facility. The expanded course will allow for four times the volume of testing and can be simultaneously set up in many dynamic custom configurations. It will give Motional the ability to repeatedly test  AVs in high stress situations, such as at high speeds, complex urban settings, variable lighting including nighttime, and light to heavy rain.

The testing will be conducted with the next-generation robotaxi, the all-electric Hyundai IONIQ 5 robotaxi, revealed for the first time earlier this month. The IONIQ 5 robotaxi the first commercial vehicle and will be used in the fully driverless service, launching in multiple U.S. markets starting in 2023.

TuSimple Releases Study Results

TuSimple , a global self-driving technology company, released the initial results of an industry-first telematics study analyzing the comparative safety performance of TuSimple’s fully autonomous (SAE Level 4) trucking technology versus manually driven trucks.

Utilizing telematics data processed by Fleet Nav Systems powered by Geotab, a global leader in IoT and connected transportation, the company analyzed autonomous miles driven by TuSimple’s technology and compared the data to a benchmark rate of critical driving events per 100 miles driven by humans in the same vehicle types and vehicle vocation at other trucking companies.

The telematics data measured industry standard critical driving events, such as harsh acceleration1, braking2 and cornering3, which can be considered leading indicators for unsafe driving that can increase the risk and frequency of accidents. The data was collected in a variety of conditions, including day, night, rain, and extreme heat as well as on highways and surface streets.

The initial results from a 10-week sample analyzing 80,000 miles demonstrate a significant reduction in industry standard harsh driving events by TuSimple’s autonomous driving technology relative to benchmark rates and human-operated driving.

Study highlights include:

Event Type

Number of events per 100 miles
(TuSimple Autonomous
Technology)

Number of events per 100 miles
(Industry Human-Operated
Driving)

Harsh Braking

0 – 0.02

0.08 – 0.10

Harsh Acceleration

0.11 – 0.16

0.99 – 1.06

Harsh Cornering

0.04 – 0.10

1.18 – 1.89

“By leveraging Geotab’s rich aggregated telematics datasets, we were able to provide real world insights for a variety of driving scenarios to make a fair comparison between TuSimple’s autonomous driving safety performance and human drivers operating under the same conditions,” said Joy Bailer, Chief Engineer at Fleet Nav Systems. “Being able to provide reliable data in this type of study is vital to better understanding the significance of self-driving trucking technology.”

By gathering real-time insights, the data suggests that TuSimple’s autonomous technology has lower harsh event rates when contrasted with benchmark rates and human-operated driving.

May Mobility Launches A2GO

— May MobilityMcity and Ann Arbor SPARK today inaugurated the launch of A2GO, a new autonomous vehicle (AV) shuttle service serving the Ann Arbor community. The free shuttle service is available to the public beginning Monday, Oct. 11, 2021, thanks in part to a grant through the mobility efforts of the state of Michigan. Additional partners on A2GO include !important Safety Technologies,  4MOffice of Future Mobility and Electrification and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

Wayve Partners with Asda

UK-based autonomous mobility start-up Wayve has today announced it will partner with UK ‘big four’ grocer, Asda, to trial autonomous delivery vans as part of the retailer’s last mile operation.

The trial will begin in early 2022 and Asda will be the first to commercially test the solution, using Wayve’s expertise in deep learning to help navigate complex urban delivery routes in London.

The autonomous vans will operate under the supervision of a Wayve Safety Driver throughout the 12-month trial, where Wayve and Asda will use their capabilities to help to integrate autonomy into the online grocery space and learn how the technology can shape the future of last mile delivery.

RAF Kar-gos wi AoR

Academy of Robotics and the Royal Air Force announced a new trial deployment of autonomous vehicles on an airbase as part of the RAF’s Astra campaign to deliver next generation Air Force capability. This trial is the first time that autonomous vehicles have been deployed on a UK airbase by the RAF.

The trial sees Academy of Robotics’ Kar-go Delivery Bot making deliveries of tools, equipment and supplies to locations within RAF Brize Norton, near Oxford. RAF personnel then go out to meet the vehicle and a hatch is automatically released enabling them to collect the package.

During the trial, the vehicles will perform autonomous and semi-autonomous procedures with a safety team monitoring from a mobile command hub. This unique remote command hub is a secure mobile unit, which can oversee all aspects of the vehicles’ operations. From this facility, the team are also able to take control of the vehicle remotely if necessary.

For security reasons, only trained and authorised personnel can move goods around an airbase, but the use of secure, autonomous vehicles could offer valuable support to professional personnel, freeing up their time to focus on the core roles they were trained for. As the vehicles are electric, the technology also opens up opportunities to reduce harmful emissions, helping the RAF towards its mission to achieve net zero by 2040.

Part-funded by the RAF’s Astra programme, with British start-up Academy of Robotics matching the investment, the trial is the first stage of understanding and investigating the potential to use autonomous delivery vehicles to support the work of RAF personnel.

Alongside the big-ticket projects and programmes, the Astra programme aims to involve the Whole Force of regulars, reserves, civilians and contractors in driving change, by identifying the barriers that prevent progression – however big or small – and overcoming them by working smarter, innovating internally and with Defence partners to create the right environment for ideas to flourish.

Squadron Leader Tony Seston, RAF Engineer and Astra ambassador commented:

“Bringing self-driving technology onto a base offers many advantages. Ultimately, we could see fleets of autonomous vehicles with different autonomy levels delivering supplies, spares, tools, food and also providing airfield services such as aircraft fuelling, runway sweeping and snow and ice clearance. Our recruits receive world-class training. If new technology can help to ensure we are enabling them to use that training as effectively as possible, we need to look at how we can integrate it into our current processes. However, we must ensure we introduce this in a way that is secure and safe for our personnel. We see this trial as our first steps into understanding how we can deliver this vision safely.”

Bases like RAF Brize Norton support operations all over the world and throughout the UK including teams ready 24/7 to support humanitarian efforts worldwide and provide Military Assistance to the Civil Authorities in the UK

Group Captain Emily Flynn, Station Commander at RAF Brize Norton commented:

“Last month, we saw a fantastic response from our teams, putting extra hours in and giving up leave to help the Afghan rescue missions. That’s the sort of work our aviators want to be able to focus on and in situations like this, every minute we save can save a life. This trial is part of a continued programme to take away the mundane tasks that cause added stress and inconvenience for our people, to help our highly-trained personnel to do the jobs they joined the RAF to do and to do them to the best of their ability.”

Whilst extensive pre-scanning and data capture is typical to train autonomous vehicles on a particular route to teach it how to perceive the different features of that route, due to security constraints, the team have had to invent a proprietary system to minimise data capture and enable the vehicle to navigate safely without this training. Furthermore, the team have had to address some new challenges unique to driving on an airfield and teach the AI to learn new behaviours like stopping at green lights on an airfield.

The Kar-go delivery vehicle is just one part of a complete autonomous technology system developed by leading British technology company, Academy of Robotics.

William Sachiti, CEO and Founder of Academy of Robotics explained:

“Moving goods securely around a site is a major challenge for almost all large organisations and although we have optimised everything we do to be able to do trials like this where the technology can complement the core work taking place on large industrial sites, every site has its own nuances and challenges. The fact that we have designed and built every aspect of the self-driving system -from the vehicle to the software and the mobile command centre- has been a huge benefit here giving us complete control and making it much easier to adapt it to the specific integration challenges of the environment we are operating in.

This trial represents the culmination of months of close collaboration and planning with the RAF and it has been a great privilege to work with teams who show such dedication and commitment to helping others. We hope that with this trial, we have taken a major step to helping them to do even more for those in need around the world.”

Following this first trial, the RAF will review the findings carefully and look at how it can be scaled effectively as part of their continued commitment to bringing innovation into the RAF.

Squadron Leader Tony Seston added:

“We are proud to have been able to collaborate with a leading British technology firm to help them understand and address the specific challenges of working on an active airbase and pioneer this use of self-driving technology. Having worked so closely with the team at Academy of Robotics on this project, we are confident that the insights from the trial will help us to design and develop processes to deliver smarter logistics to meet the requirements of a next generation Air Force.”

ENDS

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