11 ways cars will be smarter in 2018

Electric and driverless cars were a big part of this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (seen here) as makers of high-tech cameras, batteries, and AI software vie to climb into automakers’ dashboards. (Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg)
The future of transportation is here.

This isn’t a line from Hollywood’s next big sci-fi thriller but the tone of the coverage coming out of the 2018 Consumer Electronic Show and the North American Auto Show, both of which happen in January.
Gadgets lovers used to converge on the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas to get a first look at new tablets, mobile phones and lifestyle devices. But consider that this year’s Show included a 290,000-square-foot “Vehicle Technology” exhibition space where roughly 600 exhibitors showed off the latest in self-driving technology and “smart mobility.”

It follows that USA Today dubbed CES 2018 one of the year’s best car shows, and that The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) has listed several automakers among its annual rankings of the world’s top 20 “Most Innovative Companies.”

Within the property & casualty insurance sector, opinions are mixed about whether the rise of autonomous vehicles will create new markets and opportunities for insurers, or seriously shrink the auto insurance market.

But, three trends persist:

Companies that foster smart innovation strategies top headlines.
The innovation game is dominated by strategic partnerships that simultaneously boost technology resources and business outcomes.
Insurers continue to face evolving personal and commercial markets that will require creative coverage solutions.

With these trends in mind, here is a sampling of the vehicle technology updates that will shape the way insurers do business in 2018.

“In just a few years, every new vehicle should have AI assistants for voice, gesture and facial recognition as well as augmented reality,” says NVIDIA founder and CEO Jensen Huang. His company is teaming up with Volkswagen to create smart cars and vans. (Photo: © 2018 Volkswagen of America, Inc.)

No. 11: Everyday artificial intelligence

New market research from McKinsey & Company paints a positive portrait of the way the mainstreaming of vehicle technologies — most notably artificial intelligence — will produce overall growth in the automotive industry: “AI creates numerous opportunities to reduce costs, improve operations, and generate new revenue streams.”
McKinsey researchers note that AI is among four major technology trends that are reshaping the auto industry; the others are connectivity, electrification and shared mobility.

Consider the recent partnership announced between Volkswagen and the software developer NVIDIA to develop “a new generation of intelligent Volkswagen vehicles.”

These new Volkswagens will include “Intelligent Co-Pilot,” which is a driver assistance system based on processing sensor data from both inside and outside the car.

“Artificial intelligence is revolutionizing the car,” says Volkswagen CEO Dr. Herbert Diess.

Nissan has released research that will enable vehicles to interpret signals from the driver’s brain, redefining how people interact with their cars. (Photo: Nissan)

No. 10: Brainwave driver navigation

Nissan demonstrated its Brain-to-Vehicle technology, or B2V, during CES 2018. The software and accompanying hardware are intended to increase driver reaction times and ultimately vehicle and driver safety. The program falls under the umbrella of what’s been dubbed Nissan Intelligent Mobility, or the company’s vision for transforming the way cars are driven, powered and integrated into society.

“When most people think about autonomous driving, they have a very impersonal vision of the future, where humans relinquish control to the machines. Yet B2V technology does the opposite, by using signals from their own brain to make the drive even more exciting and enjoyable,” says Nissan Executive Vice President Daniele Schillaci. “Through Nissan Intelligent Mobility, we are moving people to a better world by delivering more autonomy, more electrification and more connectivity.”

Through AppLink™, Ford is integrating Waze with its SYNC 3 infotainment system, allowing users to operate Waze completely through a vehicle’s touch screen as well as with voice commands. (Photo: Ford Motor Company)

No. 9: Smarter navigation

Ford and makers of the popular vehicle navigation app Waze announced a partnership to outfit new Ford vehicles with a touch screen that will project directions and driving insights from Waze.

“Our goal is to bring a human-centered approach to technology in the vehicle,” says Don Butler, Ford executive director, Connected Vehicle and Services.

From an insurance perspective, in-vehicle navigation has sometimes been found to increase driver distraction. But the existence of such connected technology may also produce fresh data that can be useful to auto accident claims specialists.
Civil Maps software fuses sensor and map data to provide drivers with details about road conditions, pedestrians, traffic signals and more.

No. 8: Safer, smarter cognition software

Civil Maps, the developer of cognition software for autonomous vehicles, capitalized on CES 2018 to announce the availability of Fingerprint Base Map™, a scalable solution for precise autonomous vehicle localization and navigation.

Built to meet the demands of production scale vehicle autonomy, Fingerprint Base Map™ allows self-driving cars to precisely determine their location while evaluating the safest route to travel.

“With our compact map data format, what once required weeks and months to compile, can now be executed more efficiently, in-vehicle, in real-time, and while the car is driving,” Civil Maps CEO Sravan Puttagunta said in a press release.

Fisker’s EMotion Electric Luxury Sedan includes five integrated Quanergy S3 LiDAR sensors for autonomous driving, automatic butterfly doors, the “luxury interior of the future.” (Photo: Fisker)

No.7: Enduring electric vehicles

When Henrik Fisker unveiled his newest luxury sedan during CES 2018, he was sure to highlight its longer-lasting electric battery. Fisker is seeking a patent for its solid-state batteries, which the company says boast 2.5 times the energy density of lithium-ion batteries. That means electric vehicles that charge faster and drive longer without needing to recharge.

Fisker also plans to develop the battery for personal electronics and cell phones.

Toyota’s e-Palette Alliance vehicle will leverage the company’s proprietary Mobility Services Platform (MSPF) to develop a suite of connected mobility solutions and a flexible, purpose-built vehicle. (Photo: Toyota)

No. 6: Shared business transportation services

Toyota Motor Corporation capitalized on CES 2018 to introduce its e-Palette Concept Vehicle, a fully autonomous, battery-electric vehicle with open control interface to allow partner companies to install their own automated driving system.

“The automobile industry is clearly amidst its most dramatic period of change as technologies like electrification, connected and automated driving are making significant progress,” Toyota President Akio Toyoda said of the release. “We are developing mobility solutions to help everyone enjoy their lives, and we are doing our part to create an ever-better society for the next 100 years and beyond. This announcement marks a major step forward in our evolution towards sustainable mobility, demonstrating our continued expansion beyond traditional cars and trucks to the creation of new values including services for customers.”

The prospect of multiple businesses or users employing the same vehicle for transportation needs could spur new commercial vehicle insurance policies.

Garmin, a pioneer in wireless GPS navigation devices, has already teamed up with Amazon Alexa to provide voice-activated driver information. Now Garmin devices also will feature real-time weather reports courtesy of AccuWeather. (Video: YouTube.com/Garmin)

No. 5: ‘Know before you go’ weather reporting

Garmin, the makers of wireless GPS navigation and wireless devices and applications, and AccuWeather, the weather forecasting and reporting service, deepened their partnership during CES 2018 by teaming up to demonstrate AccuWeather Go. The service uses patented MinuteCast® software paired with Garmin routing algorithms to provide travelers and road-trippers with real-time weather updates.

“This is the first time navigation and weather information have been integrated and automated in a way that is truly useful to the driver,” Kip Dondlinger, Garmin Automotive OEM Manager of Product and User Experience, said in a press release. “Both in your daily commute and longer road trips, knowing what to expect on your specific route is something all drivers can appreciate. And with multiple route options presented, it can help you avoid the worst weather conditions.”

Unfavorable weather conditions cause more than 6,000 traffic fatalities in the United States each year and 1.25 million globally, according to Garmin and AccuWeather.

The Air.Car project started in July 2017. The 1,000 vehicle trial begins this year. Participants will be able to guage their vehicles’ nitrogen oxide emissions. (Photo: iStock)

No. 4: Better, safer emissions performance

Tantalum, the British connected car technology company, has partnered with data scientists at the Imperial College London, to build “Air.Car,” a vehicle device that will be designed to produce accurate, real-time information about how much nitrogen oxide exhaust the vehicle is emitting. The technology is already part of a 1,000-vehicle trial in which the units were installed in diesel vehicles across Great Britain.

Adam Bows, University of Oxford’s Sustainable Transport Manager, said in a press release: “By understanding emissions from a range of vehicles in our fleet, this project will help the University’s Transport Strategy objectives to improve local air quality and reduce the University’s carbon footprint.”

Using direct communication mode, C-V2X is designed to allow vehicles to directly communicate with other vehicles, pedestrian devices and roadside infrastructure, such as traffic signs and construction zones, without the involvement of a cellular network, or cellular network subscription. (Graphic: Qualcomm)

No. 3: Smarter cities, streets and transportation infrastructure

Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., and Ford Motor Company are partners in a technology initiative designed to help cities respond to the challenges of treater population density and transportation with C-V2X, a cellular vehicle-to-everything technology.

The two companies report they are accelerating the development of connected cars with the extension of their long-standing relationship into the development of advanced connectivity systems for Ford vehicles and upcoming Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (C-V2X) technology testing. C-V2X is advanced wireless connectivity technology for safety-conscious and automated driving solutions, which has the potential to help cities create more capable infrastructure as they look at how to connect vehicles to their surroundings, and to larger communications systems, facilitating the development and delivery of smart, connected transportation throughout the world.

Nissan touted several styles of its Leaf electric vehicles during CES 2018. The company’s vehicle trials in Japan later this year will focus on Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V), Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) and Vehicle-to-Pedestrian (V2P) direct communications, as well as Vehicle-to-Network (V2N) operations over cellular network-based wide area communications with cloud access. (Photo: Nissan)

No. 2: Global cellular-to-vehicle technologies

No major automaker cares to be left behind when it comes to developing advanced vehicle communications. It follows that Qualcomm and Nissan also are part of an initiative to test Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (C-V2X) technology in Japan. The companies also have enlisted Continental, Ericsson, Nissan, NTT DOCOMO, Inc., and OKI in vehicles trials, which are designed to show the range, reliability and benefits of C-V2X communications. The trial results will help develop a vehicle and driver communications ecosystem.

Panasonic says its cockpit system provides drivers and passengers with a new mobility experience. (Video: Abt Electronics via YouTube)

No. 1: Futuristic in-vehicle information and entertainment

“Infotainment” was the term most commonly dropped during CES 2018 to characterize the direction of vehicle communications.

It follows that entertainment and electronics companies see an opportunity as vehicles becoming ever smarter and more self-sufficient.

Consider the in-vehicle cockpit/cabin concept introduced by Panasonic during CES 2018. The system features multiple display panels in front of and behind the driver and passengers along with gesture control functions that enables the system to operate and respond by recognizing hand motions. The cabin can be outfitted with design features unique to business or family/personal uses.

Samsung also presented a “Digital Cockpit” model during the world’s largest annual electronics show.

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