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Continental Commissions First Driverless Tyre Test Vehicle

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  • Newly developed tyres are being tested under real life conditions to ensure premium quality

  • Automation allows for improved processes and more conclusive results

  • Driverless tyre tests based on prototypes of Continental’s automated Cruising Chauffeur

Continental, the premium German tyre and technology company, has commissioned the first driverless tyre test vehicle, using pioneering technology based on the company’s automated Cruising Chauffeur. Launched at the Continental test site in Texas, USA, the innovative system will see newly developed tyres being tested under real life conditions across a wide range of road surface, making test results for Continental’s passenger and light truck tyres more conclusive to ensure premium quality.

Controlled through a satellite-based navigation system, the new test vehicle is equipped with camera and radar sensors allowing the vehicle to react immediately to people, animals, or other unexpected objects on the road without a driver. This contributes to making Continental’s Vision Zero strategy for accident-free driving a reality.

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Nicolai Setzer, Continental Executive Board member and Head of Tyre Division said, “In critical situations, the tyres’ level of technology is the deciding factor in whether a vehicle brakes in time. With tyre tests which use an automated vehicle, we achieve highly conclusive test results and thereby ensure the premium quality of our tyres.”

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Driving test vehicles places huge demands on the drivers and the smallest deviations on the test track can have a huge impact on the quality and comparability of the test results. Therefore, newly developed rubber compounds and tyre models will be tested under real life conditions to show just how well they perform on different road surfaces.

In addition to the significantly improved comparability of the results, the tyre test using automated vehicles will also reduce the maintenance work required for the test tracks as there will be less route variations.

Thomas Sych, Head of Tyre Testing at Continental, commented, “We want to automate and standardise tyre tests to such an extent that we can identify even the smallest differences in the tyres. The automated vehicle enables us to reproduce processes precisely, meaning that every tyre in the test experiences exactly the same conditions. This way, we can ensure that differences in the test are actually caused by the tyres and not by the test procedure.”

“Thanks to close collaboration with colleagues from many different areas of Continental, we have made a lot of progress with our prototype for the tyre test. Our focus now is on further developing the necessary camera and radar systems for this special case of off-road routes,” explains Sych.

Automated vehicles are not new for Continental. As far back as 50 years ago, Continental was already doing groundbreaking work in preparing for the future of mobility. The company’s engineers developed an electronically controlled car to automate tyre tests 50 years ago when the vehicle followed a wire that was glued to the track, which limited its use to asphalt test tracks. Today’s prototype can also safely navigate along gravel roads without a driver.

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FIRST-EVER DRIVERLESS RACE CAR SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETES ICONIC GOODWOOD HILLCLIMB

Roborace’s Robocar became the first ever driverless race car to complete the Hillclimb at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, presented by Mastercard.

The run is the first in the history of Goodwood to be completed by a race car that has no human driver in the car – a huge milestone moment for the Festival, which this year is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

Visitors to Goodwood over the weekend got the chance to see the feat first-hand again, as Robocar attempted the Hillclimb.

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The electric race car wowed the crowds as it took to the Hillclimb, using a variety of sensors located around the vehicle to give it 360-degree vision of its environment.  The information provided by these sensors gives Robocar the ability to localize its position on the hill and detect drivable surfaces and objects using deep neural networks. The race car’s speed was limited to 120kph to allow visitors to get a good look at the car on its way up the Hill.

“We are ecstatic that the team have been able to achieve this landmark run and we hope that it draws attention to the amazing advances that are being made in the automotive industry,” said Rod Chong, Deputy CEO of Roborace. “Robocar is an ambassador for the future technologies we will see on our roads and we hope that inspirational stunts like this will change public perceptions of autonomous vehicles.”

“It is an enormous achievement for a race car to complete the very first run of the hill using only artificial intelligence,” said Charles Gordon-Lennox, the Duke of Richmond and Founder of the Festival of Speed. “Roborace has worked incredibly hard in order to pull this off and we are excited for the public to see them in action over the Festival weekend.”

Visitors to the Festival also experienced this historical run from the perspective of Robocar in the FoS Future Lab – an exciting technology showcase located in a pavilion on the Goodwood law. Inside the exhibition, Roborace is offering visitors the chance to try out a fully immersive VR simulator, in conjunction with HTC VIVE and DBOX.

Robocar, the world’s first autonomous race car, was designed by Daniel Simon, the automotive futurist known for his work in Hollywood films such asOblivion and Tron: Legacy.

The vehicle weighs 1,350 kg and is powered by four 135kW electric motors used to drive each wheel, for a combined 500-plus hp. An NVIDIA DRIVE PX2 computer processes Robocar’s data, which includes inputs from the LiDar, radar, GPS, ultrasonic, and camera sensors.

Roborace provides the car with an API as a platform for teams who then add their AI driver algorithm to the vehicle.  Development of the automated driving system for the Robocar at Goodwood was led by ARRIVAL, the automotive technology company.

ENJOY THE VIDEO BELOW:

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Driverless tech and electric power tipped as top auto trends for 2018

Driverless tech

The use of driverless technology in mainstream models and an accelerating move towards electrified drivetrains will be two top trends for new car showrooms in 2018, says Hyundai’s Africa and Middle East chief.

Mike Song, Hyundai’s Head of Operations says autonomous technology is already a feature of new model launches from the brand, in many cases fitted as standard on the newest models. That technology is being used to assist the driver, rather than to take over completely, such as with autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and lane keep assistance.

However, that is about to change, and 2018 will see driverless technology take a significant step forward.

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“What we have now is called Level 1 autonomy, where the car and the driver share control,” said Mike Song. “For example, the car uses adaptive cruise control to manage the brakes and accelerator on its own, but the driver steers. It’s called ‘hands on’ autonomy.

“In 2018, we will see this shift to Level 2 autonomy. This is so-called ‘hands off’ autonomy, where automated systems take complete control of the car, including accelerating, braking and steering. Drivers will still need to pay attention at all times and be ready to take over, but the car will safely handle a wide range of situations without any driver input.”

Hyundai will introduce Level 2 autonomy during 2018 with its Highway Driving Assist 2 (HDA2) system, which aims to minimize intervention by drivers. HDA2 will control speed and stay in lane in highway driving conditions, as well as well as changing to a crossroad, entering a junction, and merging onto a main road automatically, although drivers will need to signal their intentions by using their indicators.

The technology incorporated into HDA2 is very close to Level 3 autonomy, which will allow drivers to safely turn their attention away from driving tasks in a limited range of traffic situations.

Mike Song also predicts a clear move to electrified drivetrains in several markets within the region, with Hyundai firmly committed to the transition to renewable energy.

“In some markets, particularly in Europe, we are already seeing electric vehicles starting to take a noticeable slice of the market, and they are very close to becoming a mainstream choice,” said Mike Song. “In the Middle East and Africa, we are sitting further back on this wave, but the momentum is building. Very importantly, electric cars are being seen as fashionable and desirable. That change in perception is almost as important as the improvements in technology, because self-image is such a big part of car purchasing decisions.”

A shift to electric power is now seen as a certainty by most carmakers, with a growing number of countries now setting an end-date for the sale of new fossil-fuel powered cars in their markets.

Hyundai’s current strategy would see the company expand its line-up of electric vehicles to 38 models by 2025, encompassing a range of battery, hybrid, and hydrogen fuel cell technologies. Internationally, it already offers a hybrid version of the Sonata, and it was the first company to introduce a fuel cell vehicle as a production model, with the Tucson FCEV.

The IONIQ, launched during 2016, is Hyundai first dedicated platform for alternative drivetrains, and the first car to offer buyers a choice of hybrid, plug-in, or fully electric models. Versions of the IONIQ are already available in selected markets in the Africa and Middle East region, with more being added.

“We are all moving towards the same destination, which is mobility that is free of carbon emissions, but different markets will take a different path to get there,” said Mike Song. “Hyundai is taking a very flexible, very pragmatic approach to the transition, and we intend to be a leader of change in this region.”

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