Global Auto Supplier Sees Area as Center for Connected Car Tech
Continental, the 145-year-old German auto manufacturing supplier, is expanding its Silicon Valley presence with the opening of a 65,000-square-foot R&D center in San Jose.
It joins a growing number of automotive-focused companies that have opened R&D innovation centers in Silicon Valley hoping to take advantage of the areas engineering talent focused on making vehicles cleaner, smarter, and more connected.
Continental engineers explain their latest LIDAR research at the new R&D Center’s opening
“Silicon Valley’s collaborative environment is the perfect location for cross-divisional innovation development,” said Samir Salman, CEO of Continental, North America. “The know-how and inventiveness of our experts put the future in motion by leading digital technology and developing unique and reliable solutions for large-scale automotive production.”
Continental has been in Silicon Valley since 2014 with 60 employees at its facility in Santa Clara Calif. Those employees will transition to the innovation center in San Jose, which is expected to grow to 300 employees or more recruited from the bay area.
The new 65,000 square-foot facility features large garage bays, laboratories, and workspaces and will house engineers, programmers, designers and innovation experts working across Continental’s five divisions. Continental’s engineers will continue to collaborate on advancing technologies to achieve the company’s goals of safety, clean energy, and holistic connectivity.
“Growing our Silicon Valley presence will help Continental invest in, develop and produce new technologies and solutions for better, smarter mobility,” said Samir Salman, CEO of Continental, North America in a statement. “We recognize the growing role Silicon Valley plays in the automotive world, and we want to be closer to this hub of avant-garde thinking.” Salman did not elaborate on how much Continental has invested in the new facility but did say that the company is spending “tens of millions of dollars” in its Silicon Valley operations.
“The Research and Development Center is a part of the global Continental network of over 32,000 engineers, which means it has the power of Continental’s technical community behind it,” said Kurt Lehmann, Corporate Technology Officer of Continental. “For Continental, this investment was made to develop the ideas of the future and will address the needs of today and tomorrow.”
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Aiming To Reduce Human Error
Cruise control was a breakthrough in how we control automobiles. The act of simply pressing a button and having a car maintain speed was revolutionary for its time. Now, there are many
Mirror, mirror, full of tech
innovative technologies that are promising to change the way we drive.
Many of these tech features aim to reduce human error and create the safe drive we all deserve. Accidents are all too common, usually due to human error. If your car is damaged or you are injured, you may be eligible for compensation. If this happens, it is important to contact lawyers specialized in car accidents.
Human Override Systems
It is too easy for a driver to make a mistake behind the wheel, such as drifting out of lane. Many vehicles today are capable of determining if you are leaving the lane or failing to brake, and override that function to keep you safe. This technology is already available in many new automobiles. Something like this could definitely help save your life.
Modern Heads-Up Display (HUD)
Heads-up display (HUD) moves into the 21st century
While the HUD is not a new concept to automobiles, the technology driving these displays is getting more and more advanced. Soon, it is quite feasible that you could have a display capable of augmented reality, showing destinations and navigation directions in real-time on your windshield.
As automobile evolve, they are becoming more connected to each other and the infrastructure around them. By using modern wireless technology, automobiles are capable of talking to one another as well as infrastructure like traffic lights. This can be used to improve fuel efficiency, improve flow of traffic, and prevent accidents.
Partially Autonomous Vehicles
There are many examples of partially autonomous vehicles on the road today. One example is the automatic cruise control that many manufacturers are adding to their vehicles. This type of cruise control is able to adjust the speed of your vehicle to match the car in front of you. Your car is even capable of braking if the car in front of you comes to a full stop. This feature is already used by many automakers.
Remote Vehicle Shutdown
If your vehicle is stolen, many cars with connective technology are capable of being shut down, foiling a potential theft and reducing damages. This can really help save you a lot of money down the road as well as keep your information safe and secure.
This is just a small sample of the innovative tech features automakers have been adding to their vehicles. By adding these tech features, cars are safer, easier to use, and create a more enjoyable experience for drivers everywhere.
Tech features of the future could lead to a car like this Mercedes concept
More than Gears: The Brave New World of Connected Cars
We’re all starting to become more eco-minded—perhaps out of necessity. I appreciate cleanfleetreport.com for allowing me to weigh in on the conversation about new cars and their impact on our lives. When you finish reading, start planning your next trip with their article “Look at Where You Can Go On a $50 Trip.”
It’s smart, but is it secure?
The term “smart” has become indicative of any device that is connected to the internet. It implies a sense that other devices are “dumb” and thus inferior. While it may have been coined as a marketing term to sell you more goods, there’s some truth of the convenience offered by these “smart” devices.
Smart cars are a more recent addition to the line-up and have features that range from helping avoid accidents to performing diagnostic work while on the go to providing a Wi-Fi connection. With the high cost of new cars, it’s only expected that they would be rich in features and options.
But there may be a darker side to our newest toys. Because of their increasing reliance on the internet, they are also vulnerable. Not simply to failure, but to being overtaken or hacked. Being online means becoming a target to hackers.
So what exactly does that mean? Some forms of hacking are benign, resulting in little more than a nuisance (turning your lights on and off, locking and unlocking the doors), but in the past year there has been evidence that some vehicles can actually be completely taken over, including the brakes and acceleration.
The First Demonstration
Chrysler was the first to demonstrate this vulnerability—thankfully through the use of White Hat hackers. The problem in their system has since been fixed, but their Jeep Cherokee is just one of
You can see out, but do you know who’s looking in
many cars to join the smart revolution. Your car could be next, and its manufacturer may not have beefed up its security.
So what can you do about it? Not much—unlike personal devices such as your computer or smartphone, you can’t easily modify your car’s computer very much. Your best bet is visiting your dealer regularly and trying to keep the software as up-to-date as possible. Some updates will require an in-person visit, while others may take place automatically.
If your car is using Wi-Fi, the password is probably nothing special. As a result (especially if you can’t change it), your best bet is to secure any of your devices that connect to said Wi-Fi. Make sure
you have anti-virus software installed on everything from your smartphone to your laptop to get rid of malware.
Protect your connection by using a Virtual Private Network (VPN), which will encrypt your internet connection and hide your IP address from hackers. It wouldn’t do if one of your compromised devices became the Trojan horse that infiltrated your smart car.
Your coin purse can be a great way to influence manufacturers as well; if consumers demand “smarter” cars, that’s exactly what companies will produce. Make sure if you do buy a smart car that it promises the best security from internet threats.
Conversely, if your paranoia is still not set at ease, the option always exists to just drive a “dumb” car. You’ll be missing out on all the latest and greatest features, but at least security won’t be much of a concern.
Technology and Innovation Drives Ford Smart Mobility
Ford recently marked the one-year anniversary of the opening of its newly expanded California R&D lab and ticked off its accomplishments as leader in what CEO Mark Fields called Ford’s “one
Talking up Ford Smart Mobility
foot in today, one foot in tomorrow” strategy:
- Driving innovation (more about that later).
- Becoming a part of Silicon Valley’s culture.
- Becoming one of the largest automotive presences in the Valley.
Fields said the Palo Alto (CA) office was a key component in Ford’s move into what he terms Ford Smart Mobility, which encompasses:
- Autonomous vehicles,
- Connected vehicles and
- Big data.
Self-Driving Cars and Miniature Data Gatherers
Now legal to drive itself
To demonstrate Ford’s progress Fields affixed a new license plate to its recently licensed autonomous car (a Fusion). What was not discussed at the media event were talks reported on later between Ford and Google that could lead to a large-scale collaboration on autonomous vehicles. Ford opened the lab to media with demonstrations of some of the technologies its folks are working on. Some of the innovations come out of collaborations with 40 local startups (out of 200 they’ve talked with). Fields noted that Ford has filed 100 invention disclosures and 51 patents in the past year. Researchers are working on sophisticated, learning software programs that can simulate automated car driving situations without risking either expensive hardware or people’s lives.
One of the examples often cited is Ford’s collaboration with its neighbor, Nest, a Google (now Alphabet) company. Ford and Nest engineers worked together to develop software embedded in Ford’s infotainment system that turns down the home thermostat when you leave the garage and then resets the home temperature to match the one in your car when you head for home.
Another example was found in the back room of Ford’s Silicon Valley lab. There, one researcher had his vintage Honda motorcycle and a basic bicycle, the testbed for a project. They were to be used as part of an experiment in data collection Ford is pursuing with Riders for Health. The African non-profit group delivers health care and medicines in rural areas. Ford’s Silicon Valley engineers used off-the-shelf components to design and then shrink a durable data collection computer that they hope will allow the organization and others to map rural roads and make their life-saving work more efficient.
Ford Smart Mobility Does Fear Failure
That project is part of Ford’s Ford Smart Mobility program, an effort announced a year ago that is designed to explore the company’s move beyond its core car and truck-making business. Two
The old data device was shrunk
aspects of this program set it apart from a typical auto company program. First, it encompassed 25 projects spanning the globe, many only peripherally connected to the auto business. Second, at the outset Ford said it expected that many of the projects might fail. The company was saying that it expected to learn things to add to its future business whether these projects succeeded or not.
In Ford’s growing lab the gap is evident between tech early adopters, who can’t wait for the Google car to arrive, and researchers working on autonomous technology, who are much more sobering about the debut of said technology. That gap is driving more than 100 Ford engineers and their collaborators throughout the Valley to explore new technologies and push the boundries of how we envision mobility. They’re not the only ones barreling down this road, but their growth and progress during the past year shows the intensity that is being brought to bear on what may be the defining issues for the automobile in the coming years.
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