Volvo ROAR is an Automated Bin!

Volvo is known for their safe cars, my own family has the saying that Volvo’s are the people’s tanks. They are known for other things and soon they could be the ones responsible for your bins thanks to ROAR.

ROAR (RObot based Autonomous Refuse handling) is designed to help those who come pick up your bins every week. ROAR is a two-part system, with the first part being a drone. The drone creates a “target” for the robot, named ROARY, that enables it to locate and navigate towards the target bin, with it even picking up obstacles and moving around the threats.

ROAR is the brainchild of three universities undergraduates with both Chalmers University of Technology, Mälardalen University and Penn State University to help create the project. The second part of the project is the automated emptying of bins. When you approach the back of a garbage truck it detects how far away a person is, when you are too close the process ends meaning it is safe and keeps curious passersby out of harms way from the large lifting and crushing mechanics.

You could soon see a single person traveling in the truck, with a small selection of drones and copters helping pick up your truck with minimal manpower and risk to both you and the neighbourhood. What do you think about the idea? Is the concept of automating everything going a little too far when it will even take out your rubbish?

Volvo Pledges Their Cars Will be Deathproof by 2020

Safety in a car is important, as is made clear when you see new cars marketed with their safety ratings proudly on show. Volvo has now gone one step bolder than their rivals, with their North American CEO, Lex Kerssemakers, telling CNN that their complete lineup of cars and SUVs will be entirely deathproof by 2020.

Volvo’s plan to achieve the deathproof car involves the incorporation of a number of technologies we have already seen in the development of autonomous cars, including adaptive cruise control, auto lane keeping assists and collision avoidance. This isn’t to say that Volvo’s fully safe car is fully autonomous, instead, the safety assists will run regardless of autonomous or manual control. This results in a reverse of current self-driving cars, where instead of the manual driver taking over in an emergency, the safety systems will kick and override the driver when needed. Most of the technologies Volvo plans to put to work here also already exist in autonomous vehicles, which may explain their confidence in the timeframe.

Volvo also already tracking the number of deaths that occur in their vehicles worldwide. This may seem morbid, but in fact, it helps the engineers at Volvo see the impact of new safety measures in each generation of car and predict how much safer the car can be made. Fatality-free cars are not a new thing either, with the Volvo XC90 (and eight other non-Volvo vehicles) having no recorded fatalities in the US between 2009 and 2012, which is the most recently available data on the subject.

It is unlikely that even the safest car can save those going out of their way to put themselves at risk or ignore the rules of the road, but for the sane majority of drivers, this is a great move. It is nice to think that by the start of the next decade driving could be no less hazardous that walking around your own home, for both those behind the wheel and pedestrians.

Automotive Companies Choose Microsoft At CES

The Automotive industry is an avenue with which tech companies are always striving to exploit, from self-driving cars, clever Sat Nav that manages to avoid rivers to the self-aware AI system that has become ubiquitous for many branded vehicles. Now, four further automotive companies have announced partnerships with Microsoft with the aim of enhancing their computing power.

The four companies who have confirmed a working relationship at CES in Las Vegas (Where the gang at eTeknix insert plug here) are Volvo, Nissan, Harman and engineering partner IAV. These companies join a growing list for Microsoft which also include Toyota, Ford, Qoros (Chinese automotive manufacturing company) and Delphi (UK manufacturing company)

Microsoft envisage that every car will be connected to the Internet and strangely to other cars and will also be a “Companion within your digital life”. The following is a quick summary of how Volvo, Nissan, Harman and IAV plan to integrate Microsoft tech into their cars.

  • Volvo – plan to interrogate Microsoft Band 2 with a Windows 10 smartphone and also the Volvo Call Universal App. This means that consumers can interact with the Microsoft Band by holding down the “action button” and requesting a function
  • Harman – Plan to offer drivers the ability to access the Office 365 productivity suite within the Harman infotainment systems. This means that drivers will be able to interact with Office 365 via an intelligent personal assistant software to schedule meetings etc.
  • IAV – Plan to use Windows 10 Continuum to stream Windows 10 via a mobile device directly to a car’s dashboard, giving drivers access to Windows 10 features and apps such as Cortana, Skype for Business, Calendar, Outlook and Groove Music.
  • Nissan – Plan to incorporate Connect Telematics Systems (CTS) which will be powered by Microsoft Azure. This will be incorporated into the LEAF and Infiniti models.

Tech will always be pushed into the automotive industry with the aim of offering consumers a different experience, companies will need to make sure any software is secure and, therefore, cannot be remotely hacked. Drivers will also need to be mindful and not be distracted by the many tech options, imagine attempting to schedule a meeting while travelling at 60 miles an hour down a motorway.

Image courtesy of digitaldealer

Volvo Is Testing In-Car Delivery System

Do you remember back in April Amazon announced plans to make deliveries to the boot of your car? No? Well, it seems nothing has come of it yet, so Volvo has taken the reigns with Swedish postal company PostNord to offer this system in Sweden.

Try and think of all of the times where you have been at work, out of town or even just so lazy that you didn’t get out of bed to catch that 7:45am delivery. Now try to think of that delivery never being missed again because you can have that packed dropped safely into the boot of your car and locked away until you pick it up. That’s the ideal plan set out by this joint venture of Volvo and PostNord.

The process is simple, you place your order, tell the delivery company your car location and a special uniquely generated entry code for your car and wait for the item to be delivered.

I still have my reservations for this process though, what if you forget about that laptop you left on the back seat or that money in the centre console just ripe for the picking? I know that the selected drivers would have to pass security tests, but still.

Volvo Team Up With Microsoft to Make Hololens Showrooms

The days of Volvo showrooms being packed with cars for potential buyers to wander around and look at could soon be over. This new partnership between the Swedish car manufacturer and Microsoft aims to equip Volvo showrooms with Microsoft’s new Hololens headsets, shifting the contents of the showrooms from physical vehicles to augmented reality holograms.

With the aim of rolling out the Hololens across their showrooms as soon as next year, already having shown a prototype of the system featuring the Volvo S90 sedan at Microsoft’s Redmond headquarters. The system was able to not just show a holographic representation of the car, but also allow the users to see cross sections of the car and it’s parts. The demo also featured the ability to customize the car, changing the colour and the bumper styles, which they were then able to examine from all angles by walking around the hologram.

The ability to simply look at a fully customizable vehicle would just be the beginning. There is the possibility to show off features of the car in real life situations in the AR environment, and even the ambitious idea that someone sat it a real vehicle could take it for an AR test-drive, right in the showroom. According to Geekwire, the AR showroom is just the beginning for the Volvo-Microsoft partnership, which could bring them into the competition of developing autonomous cars. This is just the tip of the iceberg for the Hololens, with Microsoft going to great lengths to secure more projects for the headset.

It seems like giving car showrooms an infusion of modern technology may just be what they need, with their current limitation on the models and options on show, compared to the myriad of customization options that can be previewed on manufacturers websites.

Volvo to Accept Blame in Event of an Accident

Well in the case of the autonomous cars anyway. Up until now, the only company to come forward with a fully working prototype is Google and the accidents that occurred were never blamed on the company, rather the external parameters such as traffic and pedestrians. It has now come to light that Swedish-based company Volvo will “accept full liability whenever one if its cars is in autonomous mode” and is the route cause of an accident.

This announcement follows the steps taken by Volvo to protect the main software that controls the car by passing it through the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). This Act prevents occurrences such as vehicular hacking being blamed on the company itself and treated as a criminal offense.

If we remember back a few months, vehicle hacking way a hot news subject with a small team taking it upon themselves to hack multiple cars, including a brand new Jeep.

In the US specifically, the government has allowed monitoring and regulating of autonomous vehicles to be controlled by the individual states, but Volvo is now calling out for a country wide regulation format and this will be discussed further tomorrow at a seminar for self-driving cars.

I can see Volvo is taking a massive step forward by trusting the car’s software and hardware this much and removing the blame from the driver almost entirely. Let’s hope that this allows lawmakers and legal systems to become more lenient with autonomous vehicles operating in each state and each country of the world.

Thank you to Mashable for providing us with this information.

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.

Volvo Self-Park System Runs Over Pedestrian

A new video has gone viral the past weeks showing what appears to be a major fail from Volvo’s self-park system, but as it seems neither the car nor the technology was at fault. Instead it was, as with pretty much any accident, most likely the fault of the driver.

The video, taken in the Dominican Republic, shows a Volvo XC60 reversing itself, waiting a little, and then driving back into pedestrians at speed. The incident was first thought to be from a malfunction with the car but as it turns out the car might not even have had the ability to recognise a human at all.

While the car does have an auto-braking feature as standard, that only applies for avoiding other cars. The pedestrian detection functionality is an add-on that has to be purchased extra.

“It appears as if the car in this video is not equipped with Pedestrian detection,” said Johan Larsson, Volvo spokesperson. “This is sold as a separate package.”

The pedestrian safety feature uses a radar and a camera to detect pedestrians. Added hardware means extra costs for those who want it, fair enough. But seems the owner of this XC60 didn’t know that.

The images in the video can be somewhat disturbing as you see reporters getting run down. The blog posting the footage has however released a statement that the two men that were hit by the car are bruised but okay.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_8nnhUCtcO8

Lessons of the day, know the technology you use and don’t stand in front of a moving car – no matter what kind of technology it has.

Thank you The Independent for proving us with 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 psys.org for providing us with this information.

Volvo Takes a Left for Bicycle Safety

Volvo, long known for being at the forefront of automotive safety has focused its attention on bicycle safety. The Swedish auto company teamed up with Albedo100 and UK design firm Grey London to create temporary spray paint that is only visible at night.

Managing director at Volvo Car UK, Nick Connor said “Every year more than 19,000 cyclists are injured on the UK’s roads. At Volvo, we believe that the best way to survive a crash is not to crash, and are committed to making the roads a safer place by reducing the number of accidents. Volvo is a world-leader in safety technology, and we are proud to be extending our reach beyond just those driving our cars. By making cyclists increasingly visible as well as increasing the safety capabilities of our cars, we are doing our utmost to protect everyone on the road.”

The water-based LifePaint reflective safety spray can be applied to clothes, helmets. shoes, backpacks, and other items like dog leashes.  The spray is a washable material that lasts about 10 days, so it is not technically a paint.  The safety spray is not visible in the daylight, but at night when it catches the glare of headlights it glows bright white. Unfortunately the spray is only available in six cycling shops in Kent and London, though if it does well, Volvo will sell the spray on a global scale.

Source: The Verge

Volvo Cars Will Be Able to Talk to Each Other in the near Future

Have you ever thought that cars can talk to one another? If not, prepare to be amazed. Volvo apparently is working on a new technology which allows their cars to “talk to each other” in real-time, delivering warnings to drivers about black ice conditions or disabled vehicles on the road.

It seems the technology is currently being tested in Sweden, where the cars are said to be gathering data from their wheels in order to detect and determine if they are encountering black ice. Once the black ice is detected, the car transmits a GPS location to a Volvo server, which in turn sends the data to other vehicles nearby.

Drivers of those cars see a small warning icon on the dashboard to alert of the black ice ahead. The icon gets bigger as the car approaches the dangerous area, said Erik Israelsson, project leader for safety at Volvo, during a demonstration at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

It is said that the system is also implemented to activate the car’s hazard lights, sending an alert to nearby cars when they are activated to notify other drivers of potential hazard lying on the road ahead.

Technology such as this one seems to be a keyword in the industry, having scientists working on even more complex systems. However, compared to others, Volvo’s vehicle-to-vehicle system is said to be coming out as soon as next year, having it be implemented in the successor model of XC90 SUV.

Thank you Computer World for providing us with this information

100 Real People to Test Volvo Self-Driving Cars in 2017

Volvo, the Scandinavian automaker, has said that they will begin testing of their first driverless vehicles with real drivers in 2017. Yes, that means anyone, not special scientists or engineers. The tests will also be on public roads as well, in real traffic on the streets of Gothenburg, Sweden.

Volvo is seeing this as an example of their edge over the competition. The head of R&D at Volvo, Peter Martens, poked fun at their German counterparts.

“We do this in real traffic with real customers and real cars,” he said. “It’s relatively easy to put together a mockup or a show car which drives around race circuits with 250 kilometers [per hour] or put living rooms on four wheels and pretend that this is the car interior, how it looks like in 10 years. It’s much more complicated and much more real-life to really put the cars into the traffic where it’s the most complicated situation.”

If Volvo’s plans go ahead, they would mark a significant development in the evolution of driverless cars, marking the first literal public testing programme.

Source: The Verge

Volvo Self-Driving Cars Start Public Road Testing

It may seem to be very science-fiction, but Volvo’s autonomous self-driving car is far more science-fact as the first vehicle sets out on to the open roads along with the general public. In the run up to a test drive where one hundred self driving vehicles will be let loose around the city of Gothenburg in Sweden, test drives are being performed with individual cars to test their capability to merge into lanes of traffic along with braking and accelerating where necessary.

A well orchestrated advert (as we have come to expect of Volvo since their Jean-Claude Van Damme advert with the two separating trucks went viral last year) demonstrates how the car requires no input from the passenger as it drives through the city and motorways before it returns to manual driving mode and the passenger then becomes the driver.

Eric Coelingh, a technical specialist at Volvo spoke out reporting, “The test cars are now able to handle lane following, speed adaption and merging traffic all by themselves. This is an important step towards our aim that the final Drive Me cars will be able to drive the whole test route in highly autonomous mode.”

When driving in autonomous mode, a series of cameras and sensors around the exterior of the car constantly monitor and track the position of nearby vehicles, calculating whether they are speeding up, slowing down, changing lanes or simply overtaking. Should all of the public road tests prove to be a success, the proposal to release the one hundred vehicles on to a 50km route of the city should be ready for around 2017. Whilst this is another step forward to the safer driving environment that both Google and Nissan have also ventured out to achieve, we are still a long way off having these vehicles publicly available to purchase, amid fears that they are not safe enough for the entire population and predicting the actions of other road users like a real person would be able to do.

Either way though this road test shows that the technology is there and it does work (on a small-scale) so it is not a case of if, but when will it finally be deemed safe and ready to go on sale.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/bJwKuWz_lkE[/youtube]

Source: Tweaktown