CRA Technology & Innovation – USA

New Competition

Ford Motor Company launches new advanced driver assist system, Active Drive Assist, to compete with Tesla’s Autopilot and General Motors Super cruise. 

Ford’s assist system is a new addition to the automaker’s Co-Pilot360 safety and convenience technologies. The hardware for the hands-free driving system will be available to order first on the Mach-E later this year, followed by other “select” vehicles for the 2021 model year, Ford announced on June 18.

The crossover, according to the company, will be “among the first” vehicles to receive the system during the third quarter of 2021 via a remote, or over-the-air, update or at a dealership.

“The stress of long highway drives remains a huge issue for drivers around the world,” said Hau Thai-Tang, Ford’s chief product development and purchasing officer. “By introducing driver-assist technologies like Active Drive Assist, Ford’s version of hands-free driving, we’re allowing our customers to feel more confident whenever they’re behind the wheel.”

Volkswagen Battery Investment

The Volkswagen group is set to increase its stake in QuantumScape and make an additional investment of up to $200 million in the U.S. battery specialist. This move will hopefully push forward the development of solid-state battery technology, says Volkswagen. 

In the future, solid-state batteries are expected to increase range and shorten charging times. 

“We are making technological progress with our partner QuantumScape. The additional investment will effectively strengthen and accelerate our joint development work”, said Thomas Schmall, Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen Group Components.

Solid-state batteries are very promising technology for the next-but-one generation of e-mobility. The solid-state battery would be the same size as the current battery pack but would enable electrical ranges at the level of conventional drives. 

To achieve a carbon neutral balance for the company expanding e-mobility is a must. This goal is to be achieved by 2050 making the Volkswagen Group fully committed to the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.  

Striking Deals 

Tesla has struck a deal to buy cobalt from Glencore, the world’s largest cobalt mining company. The deal stems from Tesla attempting to avoid a future supply squeeze on the key battery material. 

The material will help to supply Tesla’s new plants in China and Germany. Although cobalt is relatively easy to come by at the moment, in the coming years it is expected to be in high demand with Volkswagen AG and BMW AG producing many electric vehicles. 

This deal could mean 6,000 tons of metal a year going to Tesla for lithium-ion batteries to use in their electric cars. With cobalt remaining a key part in Tesla’s future expansion it is important the company has a dependent supply of the metal.

Tesla’s China plant is expected to manufacture 1,000 to 3,000 cars per a week which is roughly 1,2000 tons of cobalt annually and the Germany plant is expected to produce 500,000 vehicles a year. 

How Vehicles Talk to Pedestrians 

Toyota is working in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Cognitive Systems Laband researcher Joshua Domeyer to study how drivers and pedestrians signal their intent and interact. The goal of the research is to inform the development of advanced vehicle safety and signaling features. 

When automated vehicles become popular it is important that drivers feel safe using them to do that the vehicles need to be able to react to pedestrians the same way people driving do. These vehicles need to be able to communicate effectively and safely to other drivers and pedestrians for them to be safe and accepted by the public. 

The study set out to identify on-road social cues and signals that are exchanged between vehicles and pedestrians. The example that the study uses is that drivers often stop earlier and further away for pedestrians then they would for a stop sign. These behaviours are extremely necessary to ensure the safety of those in and around an automated vehicle. 

Credit to Collision Repair Magazine.