New Self-Driving Car Mapping Unit Backed by Amazon and Microsoft


Amazon and Microsoft are two major companies that are yet to enter the arena of autonomous car development yet, but this could be set to change soon. Reuters have reported that according to sources, Here, a mapping company owned by a number of German automobile makers could soon be provided with cloud computing capabilities by the two IT giants. The companies that currently own Here, BMW, Audi, and Mercedes’ parent company Daimler all have their own self-driving developments in the works.

Amazon are also reported to be interested in becoming a major shareholder in Here, which would position them to be the prime provider of cloud computing solutions to them. When you consider that Here collects a huge amount of data via sensors mounted atop thousands of self-driving cars belonging to the company’s owner firms, this would be a great boon for making the most of it.

Here was previously owned by Nokia, but was acquired by the German firms in December last year for €2.8 billion. Since this acquisition, Here have continued to state that “have stressed since the acquisition in early December that they are open to additional investors from all industries.” As a result, a number of companies aside from Amazon and Microsoft want to be involved with Here, including Renault and Continental, which both have a stake in the automotive industry. Continental in particular told the wire service that a decision as to whether they would purchase a stake in Here would come imminently.

With high-resolution mapping being so crucial to proper operation of autonomous vehicles, it is no wonder that so many companies are clamouring for a part in one so open to partnerships. As Amazon and Microsoft show, it’s not just those developing the cars that want to be a part of this sector either, with the IT and data requirements to run such cars meaning that even other service providers have a role to play in this developing technology.

Even More Cars Pulled Amidst VW Emissions Scandal

Even a month after the news first broke, the extent of the emissions scandal surrounding a number of Volkswagen vehicles seems only to grow, with the EPA filing a violation of the Clean Air Act regarding Volkswagen’s 3-litre diesel engine.

In response to this claim, a number of Volkswagen, Porsche and Audi cars that are fitted with the engine from as far back as 2014 are being pulled from the US market. A number of the cars affected by this stop-sale include the Volkswagen Toureg, Porsche Cayenne and an array of Audis including the A6, A7, A8 and Q5 lines. Despite pulling the cars from sale, Volkswagen refuse to admit that the cars are cheating on their emissions and are contesting the EPA’s data on the matter.

With Volkswagen’s 2-litre diesel engine cars, such as the Golf, already off showroom floors, yet to obtain approval to return to sale by the EPA, VW claims that the new emission control system is not part of the emissions scam. With the new claims put against the 3-litre engines, it is possible the return of the 2-litre cars could yet be delayed as debate on the legality of the 3-litre emissions rages on.

Do you drive a VW, or any of the cars now accused of emissions scamming? And if so, has it made you regret your choice to buy a VW? Let us know in the comments.

Image source

Car Companies Tried To Silence Rather Than Fix Electronic Car Lock Hack

When walking home from work you notice that your neighbours front window is open. You realise that someone could pop in, grab their stuff and leave without anyone noticing so you go knock on their door and tell them. What happens next surprises you though, as your neighbour shouts at you and tells you to never speak of it again as they slam the door in your face. This is not the reaction you expect when you point out a problem with something and yet it seems to be the thing that happened back in 2012 with several major car companies.

Radbound University in the Netherlands discovered a security flaw in the security chip that’s used by companies such as Volkswagen, Audi, Fiat, Honda and Volvo. In typical fashion, they approached the companies and informed them about the issue only to find that they were being sued to suppress the paper.

The problem they discovered was in the immobilizer system commonly used by cars, in which a system detects the presence of a radio frequency chip close to the car or the ignition switch. If the chips detected, it lets the car start, otherwise it would disable the car. This specific breach though appears to be in the Megamos Transponder that helps transmit the information.

The key initially uses a 96bit secret key, but by eavesdropping on the communication they were able to reduce the possible options so that after a few tries they could breach the system. With it ranging from a few minutes to just under 30 minutes they could breach the system and start the cars easily.

So you find a problem and you inform them about the issue only to find it thrown in your face? How would you react?

Thank you Ars Technica for the information.

Image courtesy of Wired.

Nokia Finally Found Someone to Buy Their HERE Maps!

It has been a long search for the best buyer, but it seems that Nokia finally found somebody to buy and further develop their HERE Maps technology. As reported previously, it was thought that Microsoft will buy the HERE Maps technology, seeing that it wanted its mobile phone business. However, the recent change in the company led to believe that Microsoft may move away form the smartphone market.

Uber was interested in Nokia’s technology too, offering an outstanding $3 billion for it. But it looks like Nokia did not agree with what Uber had in mind for their technology, so they declined the deal after all. However, recently, there have been some rumours that some German vehicle maunufacturers were interested in the technology too.

Nokia declined to make any comments on the matter, but a new report surfaced and we finally know that the company is close to signing the deal with Audi, BMW and Daimler for $2.71 billion. This is less than what Uber offered, but Nokia did state that it would sell the HERE technology to someone who really has the means of improving it, didn’t they? Besides, the deal seems to be the best offer Nokia is going to get.

Besides, the German manufacturers want to use the high-definition real-time digital maps to help develop self-driving cars and automotive safety systems. On top of that, they also want other vehicle manufacturers to pitch in and help them with their plans. So as far as the details show, Nokia really hit their target on selling the technology for a lot of money and to a company, well companies, who have the means on improving it, don’t you think?

Thank you Android Central for providing us with this information

Audi Unveils Ultra-Light Bicycle with Ultra-High Price in Japan

Audi has unveiled a bicycle in Japan. It is an ultralight high-end bicycle which weighs 5.8 kilograms in total including the frame of the sports bike which maxes out at weighs 790 grams which is lighter than your Apple Macbook Air 13″ 2015 which weighs 1.35 Kg. Audi did not disappoint and priced it accordingly at $19,650, Whoa. A low-end car can be bought with that kind of budget. This is the result of the partnership between Audi and fellow German company CarbonSports which produces Lightweight bikes.

The Sports Bike has several elements of its construction from the company’s sports car lineup, including a Selle Italia saddle covered in the same Fine Nappa leather as used in the new Audi R8. The frame and forks are made from T1000 carbon which is made by Japan’s Toray Industries Inc. and is used in the Audi R18 e-tron Quattro cockpit. According to Audi’s spokesperson, the materials used for the construction of this high-end sports bike is responsible for the high price tag.

It was first shown off at the 85th Geneva Motor Show and is limited edition product. Just 50 of these Sports bikes will be made and each one of them will carry an individual limited edition badge. Want to place an order? Be sure you have $19,650 (US) in your bank account!

Thank you Audi JP and WSJ for providing us with this information.

Audi has Successfully Made a Renewable Diesel source

In the current race for an oil alternative, focus has moved from making a renewable source to moving to a new source altogether. Audi however, has made a diesel alternative out of water and carbon-dioxide.

So let’s step back a little. Our current oil source is gathered from millions of years of decomposition of animal and dinosaur fossils. This has been a pretty reliable source, but with our boom of using this oil for pretty much our sole source of energy; levels are dwindling. We then moved onto solar powered cars, a good idea in principle; yet not practical due to the price and vulnerability of the solar panels. We’ve seen sources from Hyundai of hydrogen powered cars, again a good idea, but really heavy. Today, we have Electric Vehicles; we like EV’s here at eTeknix, all of the power all the way through the ‘rev’ range.

Audi has made some EV’s, but secretly deep down they have been sourcing a way to produce a renewable source of fuel for current production cars.

Let’s take a look through their current three step method of producing this “e-Diesel”.

Step one: It begins with air collection, gathering carbon dioxide from the air from a partner “Climeworks”. This is then fed through to an Audi conversion reactor and creates carbon monoxide from that process.

Step two: During that process, they are chemically breaking down water into its base elements; water and hydrogen. The hydrogen is then added to the carbon monoxide at high temperatures and under immense pressure; this creates a long-chain hydrocarbon that results in “blue crude”.

Step three: The hydrogen is then added to the carbon monoxide at high temperatures and under immense pressure; this creates a long-chain hydrocarbon that results in “blue crude”. This is then sent off for refinement.

Once refined, the e-Diesel can be used on its own or added to our current diesel fuel stock to bulk it out. This will be produced in approximately 160 litres a day for the foreseeable future.

Audi has given the operations to a German based company, Sunfire. they state that the fuel has an overall efficiency of 70% compared to naturally sourced diesel. Audi and Sunfire are in talks to build a large production plant to boost the output levels; in hope that this will compete with electricity. They plan to sell it within the 1EURO – 1.50EURO per litre.

Amazon Wants to Deliver to Inside Your Car

Amazon is at it again, first with the drone delivery and now delivery to the inside of you car. No this isn’t a teleportation scheme where they shoot your parcel into your car; this is a little less sci-fi and a lot more jittery.

First off, you have to be an Amazon Prime customer; ok easy enough. Next you have to own an Audi; well I do like the Audi A4. Lastly, you have to live in Munich; yes Munich.

Let’s delve a little deeper into this. Amazon’s short term goal is for DHL to deliver a parcel to the trunk (boot for UK) of your car; the means of access is by offering a single use keycard to the delivery driver. Audi says there will be no additional insurance problems, as the delivery driver won’t have access to the rest of your car. In the future Amazon are looking to also accept returns from your trunk too.

I like this idea, it means you don’t have to wait at home for the parcel; it would make a brilliant way of delivering a secret gift while the recipient is at home.

I see three problems with this:

  • You have to be super trust-worthy of the driver
  • You can’t use your trunk for that day
  • What if you own a hatchback without a separate trunk space?

Thank you to The Verge for providing this information

Delphi Corp’s Audi Q5 Completes 3400 Mile Autonomous Road Trip

Following on from the news we brought you two weeks ago, The Audi Q5, equipped with Delphi Corp’s radar, cameras and laser sensors, has completed its epic 15-state, 3400 miles road trip from San Francisco to New York. The car mostly stuck to travelling on the various highways between the states, but what’s more impressive is that the self-driving feature managed a near perfect run, having the autonomous systems handle 99% of the journey.

“We expected we would be in autonomous mode most of the time, but to be in it close to 99 percent of the time was a pleasant surprise,” Owens told The Associated Press Thursday. “The equipment was flawless.”

Traffic was weaving around in a construction zone, there were some police cars on the right side that warranted an extra clear lane for which the driver took control of the wheel, but that’s hardly a big deal as this was a trial run and the car still scored exceptionally well. Some members of the public however, didn’t think too fondly of the car, as it stuck rigorously to the speed limit, even when other drivers we not. This prompted several members of the public to make “a few hateful gestures” at the car and its occupants.

After collecting 3TB of data from the trip, Delphi will now improve the systems which are expected to start appearing in Audi and Volvo cars within two years.

Thank you for providing us with this information.

2016 Audi R8 e-tron to Take on Tesla Model S

The next version of Audi’s R8 will have a separate electric version labelled the ‘e-tron’. The car, with its 92kWh t-shaped lithium-ion battery, has the potential to take on the performance of the Tesla Model S.

It can do 0-62 mph in just 3.9 seconds and has an incredible “artificially restricted” top speed of 155.3 mph. However, its most impressive spec is its battery performance. It does 280 miles on a single charge and can be charged fully in “significantly less than two-hours.” That alone makes this machine incredibly interesting. Those specs are also pretty in line with the Model S too.

The difference here is of course the speed and the brand. It’s significant that Audi has made its top of the line supercar an electric car. It will obviously draw comparisons with BMW’s i8, however the major difference is that the i8 is only a hybrid, not a complete EV. So effectively, this marks the first time a major car manufacturer has made a supercar EV. It’s a significant development, one surely to move others in the industry to look at doing the same.

Petrolheads shouldn’t worry however – Audi has a V10 model of its new R8. It may be a few more years before the it’s EV-only.

Source: BusinessInsider

AUDI Show Off Self Driving Car With Thanks to Tegra K1 From Nvidia

At the Nvidia GTC 2014 event in San Jose, Audi have teamed up with Nvidia to show their self-driving car through use of the Tegra K1 which helps with the form factor of the device.

They are marketing it as a self-piloted car and as it drove on stage, everyone was looking for a driver, but he was no where to be found, as seen from the picture below.

We got to see the start of self-driving cars and how much space and mechanics were needed.

They then showed what it has become today with thanks to the Tegra K1.

You can see where the device slots into the rear of the car, discreetly.

If I can find a way to work from the rear of the car while it drives me around to business meetings, I may have to switch from BMW to Audi.

Audi Developing Car That Avoids Red Lights

Ever been late for work or a date and you seem to get every red light on the way to your destination? Well that could soon be a thing of the past with Audi developing a car that can sense when traffic lights ahead are about to turn red. The new advanced technology dubbed Traffic Light Assist will let the driver know how long before a traffic light ahead of the driver will change, thus leaving the driver to adjust speed to miss the red light or seek an alternative route. Although the technology is currently still in testing and development stage, Audi has released how this new feature in their cars will work.

The Traffic Light Assist works by using the GPS in the car as well as having access to local traffic light control information, once these two systems work together a display pops up on the dash telling the driver the timer on traffic lights they will encounter on their route and also the timer for those traffic lights. Testing has all ready begun in selected cities around the world, however global release may come under scrutiny from local authorities as some drivers may take advantage use this new piece of technology to speed through red lights that may be popping up ahead of them. I personally love the idea of this new piece of technology that Audi is developing, however I can see where local authorities will have a problem with this, as it might encourage speeding. What are your thoughts on this latest piece of automotive tech?

Thank you for the information provided

Image courtesy of Gizmodo