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.

Mercedes to Replace Factory Robots with Human Workers

With robot dominating manufacturing processes, and estimates suggesting that automation could make up to half the world’s human population unemployed within 30 years, and that one-third of jobs in the UK will be done by robotic or artificial intelligence systems by 2035, car-maker Mercedes has announced the surprising move of replacing its production line robots with human workers. The decision was made, Mercedes told Bloomberg, in order to support its full array of customisable options available to customers.

“Robots can’t deal with the degree of individualization and the many variants that we have today,” Markus Schaefer, Head of Production for Mercedes, told Bloomberg at the Daimler AG’s Sindelfingen factory. “We’re saving money and safeguarding our future by employing more people.”

Schaefer, who is heading up the new customisation initiative, is also aiming to reduce production time from 61 hours per vehicle to 30 hours, and he believes that human staff can adapt to the range of customisation options quicker than an automated production line can.

“The variety is too much to take on for the machines,” Schaefer added. “They can’t work with all the different options and keep pace with changes.”

While the company will not eschew robots and automation entirely, its remaining mechanical systems will become smaller and more flexible to allow workers to utilise them for various purposes.

Mercedes hopes that its new E-Class model, available this March, will spearhead both its customisation portfolio and its return to using human workers.

There is a Home Battery War Brewing

We’re fans of the clean energy here at eTeknix, especially that brought forward by Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla. The fact that the cars can push you to 60mph in the blink of an eye (Okay maybe 3-4 blinks), is something that twigged our interests.

With the turn of the electric revolution, Tesla brought forward the “Powerwall”; a single or series of batteries that can store energy ‘for a rainy day’. They can store energy on the grid or off if you have the facilities to harness electrical energy. With the popularity of the Tesla creation, they are sold out and off the pre-order list until sometime in mid-2016.

To jump on the same wagon and steal some of the thunder, Mercedes has now designed its own home battery. The storage capacity of just 2.5kWh is lacking behind that of Tesla’s offering, these can be combined with up to 7 other home batteries to store a huge 20kWh or electricity; or twice the capacity of Powerwall.

Mercedes bosses have held this close to their chests, with the release as early as September; this might be your chance to get a home battery before the Powerwall comes available again.

Thank you to engadget for providing us with this information.

Soda Bottle Enough to Fool Mercedes S-Class

Forget all about the Google Car, Mercedes S-Class can already do it, drive on it’s own. This is without doubt an incredible stupid and reckless thing to do, so please don’t copy it. The Mercedes S-Class has Active Lane Assistant (ALA), basically a hands-off autonomous cruse system with an automated safety time out.


Normally ALA requires you to keep on hand wheel after a certain amount of time, or the system disengages. Lane markings and weather conditions also have to be clear enough for the sensors to see the road. But apparently ALA can’t distinguish between a human hand and a bottle of soda duct-taped to the wheel.

This is both awesome and troubling at the same time. And seriously, don’t be stupid enough and try this. But it shows how close we are to a hands-free commute in not to distant Google-Future.

Thank you RoadTrack for providing us with this information.

Image and video courtesy of RoadTrack.

Electric Supercar Sets 7 Minute 56.234 Second Time On The Nürburgring

Mercedes-AMG has set a new world record for electric cars by blasting their way around the legendary circuit in under eight minutes, making their new electric car the new leader for electrically powered production cars.

The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Coupé Electric Drive is now the first car in the world to have broken the frighteningly quick 8 minute barrier at the Nürburgring, which is damn impressive given the course is 13 miles long and features some of the most demanding corners in race track history, a course that has taken many lives over the years due to its alarming complexity and scale.

The new car from Mercedes clocks in at a whopping 751hp, which was able to propel it around the track in 7 minutes and 56.234 seconds.

Ola Källenius, chairman of Mercedes-AMG GmbH, said: “Mercedes-AMG impressively shows the potential of the SLS AMG Coupé Electric Drive with this new record on the Nürburgring Nordschleife. Mercedes-AMG is the first vehicle manufacturer to have circled the Nordschleife in under eight minutes with an electrically powered series production vehicle. This record run is further proof for our constant innovative vigour.”

The car is powered by a series of four electric motors, with one close to each wheel, this setup is effectively the same as four wheel drive albeit with each wheel powered individually. The car was able to hit 62mph in 3.9 seconds and reach a top speed of 155mph (limited).

This isn’t even a “one off” model either and the car is available for a whopping £353,863, so long as you don’t mind driving on the left only.

It’s impressive to see just how far electric car technology has progressed and if the future really is electric vehicles then we really need a high end electric car motorsport to push the technology further, this  AMG is definitely a step in the right direct, green and blazing fast.

Source and image courtesy of Telegraph