Entries with tag automotive technology.

Toyota Replacing Robots with Human Workers

Although robots are widely used for industrial production, Toyota is replacing machines with human craftsmen able to teach new skills to their younger colleagues as well as improve the car-building process. The move is designed to help workers understand the processes involved in making car parts from scratch and also allows them to take that knowledge and use it to reprogram machines. Ultimately, this can help improve various processes. This approach is succeeding in the Honsha plant where crankshafts are now made by hand. The company reports this has reduced the amount of scrap by 10 percent, shortened the production line by 96 percent, improved production, and also reduced the costs associated with making chassis parts. Toyota still uses robots throughout its manufacturing operations. It uses 760 robots, for example, in 96 percent of the production at its Motomachi facility. (SlashDot)(Bloomberg)

Safe-Driving Concerns Drive Automotive-Application Adoption

People who want to drive safely while getting information from the Web or otherwise multitasking are increasingly turning to applications loaded into vehicle dashboards. Today, about 10 percent of vehicles have built-in Internet connectivity, but consumer demand for this capability is increasing. By 2020, at least 90 percent of all cars will be able to connect to the Internet, according to a newly released report by British consultancy Machina Research. Drivers want to be able to stream music, listen to news, or obtain online help finding parking spots or hotels. The Machina Research market study, commissioned by British telecommunications provider Vodafone, named BMW and its ConnectedDrive service as offering “the most complete approach to the delivery of connectivity in cars,” followed by GM, Ford, Audi, and Chrysler. (Reuters)(Machina Research) 

Volvo Plans Test of Autonomous Cars

Volvo announced plans to test its autonomous vehicle technology in Gothenburg, Sweden, within the next three years. A fleet of 100 autonomous vehicles will be used in the 2017 “Drive Me” program. With this pilot test, Volvo has as its goal “no one should be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo car by 2020.” Participants will be hand selected for the test, scheduled to take place on public roads, which include various types of driving challenges, such as commuter traffic, city centers, and freeway driving. “Autonomous vehicles are an integrated part of Volvo Cars’ as well as the Swedish government’s vision of zero traffic fatalities,” said Volvo president and CEO Håkan Samuelsson. “It will give us an insight into the technological challenges at the same time as we get valuable feedback from real customers driving on public roads.” The study will also determine what improvements autonomous vehicles may have on traffic and fuel efficiency as well as whether any infrastructure changes might be required. Volvo is competing with other firms in developing autonomous vehicles, including Google, Nissan, Ford, General Motors, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW. Until its fully autonomous technology is tested, Volvo says it will offer a semi-autonomous driving mode on its 2014 XC90, which will combine adaptive cruise control with technology designed to keep the car centered in its lane at low speeds. (The Telegraph)(WIRED)

Researchers Take Rare Step, Will Publish their Car-Hacking Findings

Although research into hacking vehicles’ software systems has been conducted for years, the details are not widely released because of security concerns. Now, Twitter security engineer Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek, director of security intelligence for vendor IOActive, say they will publish a detailed 100-page white paper about their hacks of the Toyota Prius and Ford Escape and release the exploit software they developed this week. Among their hacks were making a Toyota Prius suddenly brake when traveling 80 miles an hour and disabling a moving Ford Escape’s brakes. Miller and Valasek connected laptops directly to vehicles’ computer networks for their research and thus did not execute their hacks remotely, which would be much more dangerous. Toyota is reportedly reviewing the DARPA-funded research, and Ford is aware of it. Miller and Valasek said they are releasing their work to encourage additional research on discovering and fixing flaws in cars like the ones they found. (Reuters)(Forbes) 

Automotive Technology Prevents Drowsy Drivers

Researchers from Japan’s Aisin Seki, a manufacturer or automotive components and systems, have developed technology that uses eyelid monitoring and movement to identify and prevent motorist drowsiness. Their Intelligent Transport System captures data from video feeds and tracks factors including the eyes’ blink speed and frequency, as well as average eyelid position to determine a driver’s sleepiness level. It examines eight different eye movements to determine if a driver is experiencing one of five drowsiness levels ranging from not sleepy to very sleepy. The system was tested with drivers on a closed track. Drowsiness is reportedly the leading contributor to fatal car crashes in Japan and is also dangerous worldwide. Aisin Seki is working on an algorithm to improve the accuracy of the system, which will eventually be available in Toyota vehicles. (PhysOrg)(Aisin Seki via JCN Network)

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