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  1. #1
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    [EN] Apple to test self-driving vehicles in California

    14 April 2017

    Ending years of speculation, Apple’s late entry into a crowded field was made official Friday with the disclosure that the California department of motor vehicles had awarded a permit for the company to start testing its self-driving car technology on public roads in the state.

    The permit covers three vehicles – all 2015 Lexus RX 450h hybrid SUVs – and six individual drivers. California law requires people to be in a self-driving car who can take control if something goes wrong.

    Apple confirmed its arrival in the market, but wouldn’t discuss its intentions.

    The Cupertino, California, company instead pointed to a statement that it issued in December. That comment came after Apple informed federal regulators of its interest in self-driving cars in a letter from Steve Kenner, a former Ford Motor executive who is now the company’s director of product integrity.

    “Apple is investing heavily in machine learning and autonomous systems,” the company said then. “There are many potential applications for these technologies, including the future of transportation.”

    Like others, Apple believes self-driving cars could ease congestion and save millions of people who die annually in traffic accidents often caused by drunk or distracted motorists.

    Self-driving cars also are likely to yield a gold mine, another reason that Apple is exploring an expansion beyond its main business of making phones, tablets and personal computers.

    Although the ongoing popularity of the iPhone has helped Apple remain the world’s most valuable company, it hasn’t been able to invent another breakthrough product since the 2010 debut of its iPad, which is now in the throes of a three-year sales slump. The dry spell has raised persistent questions whether Apple lost some of its trend-setting magic with the death of co-founder Steve Jobs in 2011.

    Apple will be vying against 29 other companies that already have California permits to test self-driving cars. The list includes major automakers, including Ford, General Motors, BMW, Volkswagen and Tesla.

    ...

    With billions in cash, Apple also could easily afford to buy technology that accelerates its development of self-driving cars. There has been recurring speculation that Apple might eventually acquire Tesla, which has a market value of about $50bn. Neither Apple nor Tesla has given any inkling that they are interested in joining forces, though.

    Speculation about Apple’s interest in expanding into automobiles began swirling in 2015 amid media reports that the company had begun secretly working on building its own electric car under the name project “Titan”. Apple never confirmed the existence of Titan, which is now believed to be dead.

    https://www.theguardian.com/technolo...est-california

  2. #2
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    ICYMI: How Ford has slammed the door on Silicon Valley's autonomous vehicles drive

    Danny Bradbury
    27 Mar 2017

    Detroit and Silicon Valley aren't just 2,000 miles apart – they're on different planets, culturally speaking. One is the home of America's automotive industry, a heavily regulated, ultra-conservative sector focusing on high-volume, low-margin sales. The other houses companies that deal in high-margin information and digital services, acting first and begging forgiveness later. They are also in competition to own what some are calling the next personal computing platform: the car.

    The recent focus is less the embedded systems that run vehicles – Linux won that battle – and more the data connections to deliver so-called "infotainment" to those inside and beam diagnostic data back to the manufacturer.

    Gartner reckons on a five-fold increase in such units globally by 2020 to 61 million.

    With those units come opportunities. Now, the sale isn't just about the car; it's about the subscription revenue that you can garner from apps and online services. It's going to boost aftermarket revenue opportunities in a chronically low-margin industry. The car is the next PC platform.

    No wonder Google, Apple, and Uber's driverless truck startup Otto, to name just three, are pushing hard on autonomous vehicles.

    And no wonder car makers rallied together and fired back with the SmartDeviceLink Consortium (SDLC), for connecting smartphone apps to vehicles.

    SmartDeviceLink (SDL) hails from Ford, based on its proprietary AppLink APIs for smartphones to talk to car systems that it open-sourced and contributed to the GENIVI Alliance in 2013 under the BSD license. GENIVI "OEM" members are listed as most of the major car-manufacturing brands.

    Four years later Ford with Toyota have formed a consortium to promote the SDL as a way to connect smartphone apps to vehicle's smart dashboards (the head unit) and control them with the vehicle's human machine interface. First members are Mazda Motor Corporation, PSA Group, Fuji Heavy Industries (now the Subaru Corporation) and Suzuki Motor Corporation.

    Why? Imagine manipulating Spotify via your steering wheel controls, for example.

    But such services and the data they use or generate are only part of the story. Devices and data are nothing unless you also have developers – individuals and companies who build applications that can deliver the applications and services people need, or don't know they want, and that generate or gather data for the car manufacturer once the vehicle is on the road.

    And therein lies the problem. If the world of enterprise has taught us anything, it's that success comes from attracting developers and developers attracted in sufficient numbers by the ubiquity of platform – by the fact that an operating platform can straddle different hardware. Software that lets you – as close as possible, if not entirely – write your app once so it runs anywhere without rewrites.

    Divided you'll fall

    That's where the car giants have failed. Ford has AppLink, but GM has its own developer framework called MyLink. For the car to be the new PC, there must be a standard for it so we're not developing the same app for the four-wheeled equivalents of the pre-PC Osborne, Kaypro, and Apple II.

    James Hodgson, industry analyst at ABI Research told The Reg: "The way OEMs have approached adding functions to their head-end entertainment units is the way that the old Nokia would have done. What they want was baked in from the start. The key to maintaining relevance in the vehicle is to have this application framework and bring in developers who are innovative."

    "Fragmentation is certainly hindering the uptake of in-vehicle subscription services. However, music subscription services aside, there is certainly a potential for applications in the future," says Sam Barker, research analyst at Juniper.

    "For these services to be successful, partnerships that lower the level of fragmentation in the market will be critical." But that's an area where Silicon Valley has history in building the kind of hardware-straddling ubiquity that attracts developers.

    Apple has been trying to shift from a maker of expensive computers and laptops into a service firm, with iTunes, the iPhone and iPad. In March 2014, Apple announced the CarPlay system, released in 2014. Google has Android Auto, which it introduced a year later. Both are UI projection systems for smartphones, casting driver-friendly versions of the phone's display to the dash display.

    Many car makers actually support these systems – including Ford, which supports both interchangeably.

    No, you wouldn't swap mid-drive, explains Jeffrey Hannah, director for North America at car analyst SBD, but between drives. Bob might prefer to control the manufacturer's curated selection of supported smartphone apps via SDL. This doesn't stop his wife Alice from locking herself in Apple's gilded cage on the way to her yoga class, or their daughter Jane subsequently beaming all her personal data to the GooglePlex via Android Auto when she takes over.

    The official line from car makers is that anything enhancing the driver's experience and giving them more choice is good. Informed by his own consumer data, Hannah buys this argument.

    "They know that consumers want to safely use their smartphone in the car in the best way possible. The car makers made a compromise to say that the consumer is boss," he says.

    So, SDL – in theory – creates one common framework for all car makers, making it easier for an app and service provider to get to your dashboard – no rewrites or ports. Smartphone apps are already in modern vehicles, though, with many car manufacturers already supporting one or both in-car options from smartphone vendors. These smartphone operating systems integrate their native apps and virtual assistants with your car. You can control them with your car's hardware.

    So why bother with SDL at all?

    The driving data goldmine

    The answer is that there's something you can't easily access with your smartphone alone. Saying "OK Google, where's the nearest gas station?" works just fine, but "Siri, how far can I make it before I run out of gas" won't. Neither will asking your voice assistant whether the tires need inflating, or how safely you're driving. This kind of thing needs telematics data from the car, sent from different sensors along the vehicle's local network, called the controller area network (CAN) bus.

    "This data is the gold," says Hannah. It includes GPS, fuel, acceleration and braking data, along with diagnostic info; anything, really, that a sensor in the car can send.

    It's also data that the car makers are keeping for themselves. Apple and Google may have a place in many dashboards, but there is a Chinese wall between their smartphone platforms and that CAN bus data.

    Car makers typically put that down to customer privacy and security. It's difficult to control that info when it's on the smartphone platform. Most customers aren't savvy enough to work out their privacy settings when installing a dodgy knock-off version of Flappy Bird, let alone protect their telematics data from snoopers.

    Toyota, one of SDLC's founding members and the planet's second largest car maker by sales, plans to start offering its own telematics system build on SDL "around" 2018, the firm said.

    There's also a glaring economic and political issue here.

    "[Car makers] haven't slammed the door on Android Auto and CarPlay but they do want their own parallel platform where there would be certain apps that are only accessible on SD Link [SDL]," says Roger Lanctot, director of automotive connected mobility in the global automotive practice at market analysis firm Strategy Analytics.

    "The challenge for Ford is to enable the discovery of those apps that are only available on SD Link and build customer retention proposition around those applications."

    (continua)

  3. #3
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    Bloke to insurance firm: How's my driving?

    If developers are critical for success, what kinds of applications are we talking about?

    Right now, a lot of Sync apps focus on navigation, news, ecommerce and music, which are all things that phones can do easily enough. Differentiation is coming, though. Or so SDLC reckons.

    "There are lots of vehicle-centric downstream opportunities where at this point Android and Apple may not have the best apps at all," says Doug VanDagens, Ford's global director of connected vehicles and services, and an SDLC board member. "Where we're going next are that there are arenas in repair, insurance, and diagnostic information. There are other players that want to take advantage of what the vehicle offers."

    He gives examples such as crash analysis, where sensors might be used to better describe what happened in a collision to insurance companies.

    Ford has already announced a partnership with IVOX, developer of the DriverScore app that tells insurance companies how you're driving and potentially lowers your premiums.

    Coming this spring, the app connects via AppLink and slurps vehicle performance data with the driver's permission. IVOX then stores the data, aggregating it to produce a driver's score. It sends that score, rather than your precious vehicle data, to insurance firms who will then adjust the premium to suit both grannies and boy racers. At a 2017 CES hackathon in January, Ford also demonstrated a not-yet commercially deployed app built on IBM's Watson. It accessed vehicle fuel data to tell particularly dim drivers that fuel was low, and then alert them to gas stations en route.

    More impressively, at CES it also announced integration with Amazon's Alexa, enabling users to control functions directly via voice. You can start your vehicle and warm it up from inside the house on a cold day. Those people unlucky enough to park it unlocked in darkest Romford can quickly ask Alexa to remediate the situation from afar. Just don't say anything that sounds like "dollhouse".

    What's next? What else might be coming down the pipe? BMW's interview here was tantalising. Its execs talked about a world where cars ship with the appropriate hardware features – everything from heated seats to extra horsepower – that were then turned on by software. Bum getting a bit chilly over the winter? Upgrade to heated seats. Going on a hilly road trip? Rent some extra horsepower.

    We're already seeing Teslas ship with features that get turned on later, so this isn't inconceivable. Not that Musk will probably want anything to do with SDL, though – that firm is going its own way.

    The big question: Will SDL gain traction?

    iOS saw off a lot of competition. Not just from Microsoft's Windows Phone, which some analysts reckoned was destined for success. The open-source camp churned over the years with the merger of the Linux Phone Standards (LiPS) Forum and the Linux Mobile Foundation (LiMo) that was rebranded the Tizen Assocation. There was also the Linux-Foundation-backed MeeGo that the Foundation dropped for Tizen. Tizen's members include Motorola, NEC and Samsung but despite this commendable moving of the chairs, it's Android that dominates open-source handsets.

    Car makers are signed up to SDL: Mazda, PSA Group (Peugeot, Citroën), Fuji (Subaru) and Suzuki. On the app side there's parking app ParkU with Honeywell promising to let you turn your home thermostat on by barking at your steering wheel. Interestingly, Google-owned Waze has also signed up, which suggests that things are – after all – affable between car makers and smartphone OS vendors.

    And yet, as Apple's success has proved, numbers of founding members are no indicator of success.

    Still, Juniper's Barker is sceptical about the initiative. "SDL has entered the market as an open-source alternative. However, it is unlikely to be enough of a differentiator to compete with services like CarPlay and Android Auto in the long run," he says. "These two systems will increase their in-vehicle offerings through the introduction of new apps themselves."

    It's early days for SDL, but also for the smartphone OS vendors. With autonomous driving likely to change everything in the next few years, we're so early into the journey that we haven't even turned the ignition yet. One thing's for sure: cars in 15 years are going to be far different than this year's model. Maybe there won't even be a steering wheel to poke at that point.

    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/0...mous_vehicles/

  4. #4
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    Ford Hires 400 Engineers, Doubles Size of Connectivity Department

    Many of the workers are reportedly coming over from BlackBerry Ltd's shuttered handset business, and they will work on combining smartphone functionalities with in-car features like driver assists, handset integration, and security.

    Caleb Jacobs
    March 30, 2017


    Ford Motor Company recently hired 400 engineers to double the staff of their connectivity department. This decision allows the automaker to advance their in-car technology to compete with European manufacturers, and to promote a more premium feel throughout. This is part of an already strong push for usable connectivity between owners and their cars, making their vehicles a more instrumental part of their day. By making these systems more accessible, Ford hopes to jump ahead of the crowd and stand out against other consumer brands—and even luxury automakers. This comes after the company announced they would invest $200 million in an advanced data center in Michigan to develop better in-car connectivity and autonomous features.

    According to a report from Reuters, 300 of Ford's new employees will land in Canada, with the other 100 finding jobs in the United States. Many of the workers are reportedly coming over from BlackBerry Ltd's (BB.TO) shuttered handset business, and they will work on combining smartphone functionalities with in-car features like driver assists, handset integration, and security. Ford plans to implement this technology in over 20 million models in the future, making this a worthwhile investment for the auto manufacturer.

    This also suggests Ford's dedication to North American manufacturing. As various automakers come under fire from President Trump, those with footholds in America are looking for new ways to innovate and build from within. This also further supports technology-related jobs (as opposed to assembly-line roles), a quickly growing field that is almost equal in numbers for today's auto industry.

    Expect this to improve on Ford's already well-designed connectivity features. The newly revised SYNC 3 system features a list of benefits that make it easier to use for consumers both domestically and globally, including the recognition of Chinese handwriting and commands in the Mustang, Edge, and other models.

    http://www.thedrive.com/tech/8809/fo...ity-department

  5. #5
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    ICYMI: Ford to build own data centre to store connected car data

    Cost works out at about $1M per Petabyte

    Gareth Corfield
    30 Mar 2017

    Following boastful tweets by American president Donald Trump about job creation, Ford is set to open its very own Michigan data centre for its connected cars.

    Predicting data storage requirements of 200PB by 2021 – growing from today’s 13PB – Ford chief exec Mark Fields said in a canned statement that the new bit barn “will increase the ability of Ford’s global data insights and analytics team to transform the customer experience, enable new mobility products and services, and help Ford operate more efficiently.”

    The $200m facility will be under the control of Ford’s Smart Mobility division and located in Flat Rock, on the south-west corner of Detroit.

    “Our plan is to quickly become part of the growing transportation services market, which already accounts for $5.4 trillion in annual revenue,” continued Fields.

    Flat Rock is already home to a Ford assembly plant. In January Ford said the plant would specialise in building electric and autonomous cars, creating 700 new manufacturing jobs.

    Trump tweeted, immediately before Ford’s announcement:

    Big announcement by Ford today. Major investment to be made in three Michigan plants. Car companies coming back to U.S. JOBS! JOBS! JOBS!
    — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 28, 2017

    Late last year Ford was reported to have started testing its connected cars in Coventry and Milton Keynes, with its tech being focused on using traffic light data from roadside beacons to find the best cruising speed to sail through a continuous line of green lights – “riding the green wave”.

    The latter sounds like a good idea in cities where traffic lights are networked or deliberately timed in phase with each other, but Britain’s typically piecemeal deployments of traffic control measures may make this a difficult dream to achieve.

    Some of London’s traffic lights on main roads can be controlled remotely by Transport for London, primarily to ease congestion.

    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/0...onnected_cars/

  6. #6
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    The car is the next PC platform.
    For the car to be the new PC, there must be a standard for it so we're not developing the same app for the four-wheeled equivalents of the pre-PC Osborne, Kaypro, and Apple II.
    What's next? What else might be coming down the pipe?



    John Deere tractor owners are downloading illegal Ukrainian firmware hacks to get the crops in


    Farmers are pirating John Deere tractor software

    Ryan Whitwam
    March 22, 2017

    Many of us have downloaded cracked software from the darker corners of the internet over the years. Remember when the only way to get Photoshop was to buy a $700 license? Yeah, enough said. Some of the most prolific users of cracked software these days aren’t who you think. Farmers across the US are grabbing modified copies of tractor software from sketchy Eastern European websites to get around John Deere’s draconian software restrictions.

    https://www.extremetech.com/computin...ware-stick-man
    John Deere is notorious for arguing that farmers who buy its tractors actually "license" them because Deere still owns the copyright to the tractors' software; in 2015, the US Copyright Office affirmed that farmers were allowed to jailbreak their tractors to effect repairs and modifications.

    But the Copyright Office doesn't have the legal power to allow anyone to make a tool to make such modifications, which makes the Copyright Office exemption pretty symbolic.

    Nevertheless, Deere responded immediately to the Copyright Office ruling by amending the EULA for its tractors to prohibit any such modification, third party repairs, etc, and made farmers click through the EULA and "agree" to it in order to start up their tractors.

    Now, farmers find themselves in desperate straits. Not only does Deere gouge them on repairs ("$230, plus $130 an hour for a technician to drive out and plug a connector into their USB port to authorize [a user-swapped] part"), but the repair shops can be far away or busy, and thus a half-million dollar tractor can sit immobilized while a farmer frets about getting his crops in.

    To add insult to injury, the new Deere EULA makes farmers indemnify the company against "crop loss, lost profits, loss of goodwill, loss of use of equipment … arising from the performance or non-performance of any aspect of the software."

    But farmers need to get their crops in, and they expect to be able to go on fixing, tuning and modifying their tractors as they've done since tractors were invented, and so they are turning to the Ukrainian black market. Breaking DRM is illegal in Ukraine, but the law is less vigorously enforced, so Ukrainian manufacturers offer downloadable cracks that allow farmers to seize control of their tractors, violating their license agreements but saving their crops and their money.

    Motherboard's Jason Koebler bought his way into the paid, invite-only forums where farmers trade advice and suggestions on fixing, tuning and improving their tractors, and lived to tell the tale, which is a fascinating story of fake parts sold from ag-business websites that used to launder payments for login codes to the illegal tractor underground.

    Nebraska and four other states are considering "right to repair" legislation that would do away with this ugly business in favor of just, you know, letting farmers treat their tractors as though they belonged to them. This legislation is being vigorously opposed by an unholy alliance of automotive companies, Apple, and Big Ag, all of whom want to keep their cushy, government-enforced monopolies intact.

    http://boingboing.net/2017/03/22/mak...un-shines.html
    Matéria completa: https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/a...n-firmwareJohn
    Última edição por 5ms; 14-04-2017 às 21:59.

  7. #7
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    China's self-driving truck passes test

    Tian Shaohui
    2017-04-15

    A Chinese-made self-driving truck has passed a navigation test, heralding the era of intelligent, automated heavy vehicles.

    FAW Jiefang, the leading truck manufacturer, debuted the self-driving truck at FAW Tech Center in Changchun City, Jilin Province. The truck was able to recognize obstacles, slow down, make a detour, and speed up.

    The truck reacted correctly to traffic lights, adaptive cruise control, remote commands and successfully overtook, company sources said.

    FAW Jiefang now plans to commercialize the intelligent driving vehicle as early as 2018.

    Hu Hanjie, FAW Jiefang general manager, said the company has built a whole industry chain partnership to develop, manufacture, sell, and service self-driving trucks. The participation of more firms across the sector will accelerate the technology's use on heavy-duty vehicles, Hu said.

    Leading Chinese tech firms, including Baidu and Tencent, have invested in self-driving entities. Baidu, for example, has tested driverless mini cars at the annual World Internet Conference for the last two years.

    Industry insiders, however, said the technology may prove more practical when it is used on trucks than private cars as truck drivers are more likely to drive tired. The new systems could cut operational costs by replacing drivers.

    http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/20..._136210848.htm

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