By T Murrali:
Several events, interesting mainly to scientists and engineers, happened in June,2018. A notable programme among them was the ‘Innovation Days 2018’ for five days from June 25 in Detroit and Chicago. Organised by the Rome and Chicago Offices of the Italian Trade Agency, it was a good opportunity for the Midwestern companies in the automotive, advanced manufacturing and robotics industries to engage with the Italian delegates. This programme underscored Italy’s position as a top solutions provider of the US while encouraging engagements for some of Italy’s leading companies and universities as they seek to expand existing relationships and build new ones with industry peers, suppliers and research centres there. There were inspiring talks and great opportunities to spread the seeds of innovation and growth for Italian and American participants alike.
Of late, most of the innovations focus on enhancing the factor of ‘safety’ in every sphere of life. The Quiet Vehicle Sounder (QVS) of Brigade Electronics, a global leader in road safety technology, has won a CLEPA Innovation Award in the SME Safety Category. QVS, for the physically challenged, has been in development for over two years. It is designed to warn pedestrians, cyclists and other vulnerable road users like the visually impaired of an approaching silent electric or hybrid vehicle. Electric-powered vehicles make audible sound only at high speeds and they are a safety risk to road users. When such vehicles travel at speeds below 20kph/18.6mph they are almost silent, and research has shown that EVs and hybrids are 37 percent more likely to be involved in pedestrian accidents than conventional cars.
Utilising its multi-frequency patented ‘bbs-tek’ technology, Brigade’s QVS creates a highly directional and instantly locatable warning sound at low speeds, readily identified as a vehicle. The sound is only heard in the hazard zone, dissipating quickly and cutting out at higher speeds to help minimize noise pollution. It’s a really commendable innovation for the people for whom it matters the most.
In another development Foresight Autonomous Holdings has announced that it is developing a sensor system that uses multiple visual light and infrared cameras in stereoscopic technology to interpret its surroundings. Founded in 2015, the company is focused on designing, developing, and commercialising a range of sensor systems and associate technologies for use in autonomous vehicles. These include stereo and quad camera systems with the software that will allow a car to interpret the signals from those cameras. These can be used to help avoid accidents between cars and will eventually allow self-driving cars to see and act on objects in their surrounding environment.
Continental, DFKI Pact
Continental AG and the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) have agreed to enter into a partnership to focus on improving internal processes and on the mobility of the future. As part of the collaboration, the Forschungslabor Intelligente Technologien, (Research lab for intelligent technologies), will be established at the DFKI location in Kaiserslautern. Here, in the ecosystem of DFKI labs, Continental employees will research the fundamentals of AI technology and address specific problems. This will include researching AI-supported methods of data analysis and software development. Continental is also working on developing AI-based tools that will help the more than 16,000 software and IT employees worldwide with quality assurance and upgrading functions. It is said that Continental engineers have identified several applications for AI. For example, in material flow, machine learning can be used to create more precise forecasts of raw-material requirements. DFKI has well-honed skills in this area of technology.
In 2015 the technology company had set up a central AI pre-development department to coordinate the various AI research activities. The company is collaborating with NVIDIA, Baidu, the University of Oxford, the Technische Universität Darmstadt and the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (India). In Budapest, Hungary, the Continental Advanced Driver Assistance Systems business unit opened a centre of excellence for deep machine learning in May. By the end of 2018, the technology company will employ around 400 engineers worldwide with specific AI expertise and is looking for more talented people.
Continental was also in the news recently when it won nine prizes for its innovative products at the German Innovation Award. The Trackman XP rubber crawler track impressed the panel with its innovative properties and user benefits and received an award. Vehicle interior solutions bagged three awards. Alongside the 3D Touch Surface Display and the two-finger touch gestures, Intelligent Glass Control, which darkens the vehicle glazing, also received an award. Four awards went to pioneering surface materials: the breathable upholstery material laif VyP; the skai digital printing collection for individual designs; the skai TransPorter collection used on vehicle floors; and the environment-friendly Flightfloor Eco, which is specially designed for aircraft floors.