Auto Service

Autonomous Driving Market Estimated $560 Billion

The market for autonomous cars and driving software has been experiencing significant growth at both the global and regional level. According to one industry expert, this may trigger a change in the entire value chain as a whole with OEMS And suppliers hoping to get a piece of the $560 billion pie.

“Recent innovations and disruptive technology will make autonomous driving a reality in the foreseeable future with fascinating new mobility features and potential efficiency and safety benefits,” explained Salvador Zarate, a partner at global management consulting firm AT Kearney.

driving“We are seeing some Middle East countries making moves to embrace smart cities, with autonomous cars a major part of that evolution,” he continued.

AT Kearney just released the results of its most recent study, titled “How Automakers Can Survive the Self-Driving Era.” The report involved conducting interviews with over 150 automotive decision-makers from around the world with the intention of identifying products, services and partner strategies with with OEMs and suppliers can push themselves forward in the autonomous driving race.

According to the report, the newly emerged autonomous driving chain involves a whole host of players spanning from component suppliers and software integrators to infrastructure and data providers. A handful of these firms operate in multiple business fields, but the report stated that all of the players would likely be competing for leverage in the same autonomous driving market once the autonomous car revolution undergoes its next evolution.

The report also predicts the emergence of crucial fissures in the auto industry as it is today. Alongside OEMS, service providers are expected to create their own fast growing and independent industry that will expand to compete with the earnings generally associated with OEMs. Service providers’ consumption-dependent revenues and revenues from entertainment, multimedia and information offerings could actually already exceed that earned by traditional OEMs.

In other words, the vehicle market will likely split into three major sections: premium, low-cost and drones.

Mercedes-Benz S 500 INTELLIGENT DRIVE - autonom durch Überland- und Stadtverkehr Mercedes-Benz S 500 INTELLIGENT DRIVE - autonomously through country roads and inner-city traffic

“The business models of mid-range providers like Toyota, VW, SEAT and Citroen are being called into question,” explained Michal Romer, head of Digital Business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa at AT Kearney and co-founder of A T Kearney Digital Labs. “Following the example set by technology pioneers such as GM, BMW, and Ford, automakers need to forge strategic alliances with partners outside the industry if they want to deliver attractive telematics solutions, for example.”

According to experts at A T Kearney, even premium car brands now depend on external expertise to continue to supply the latest in automotive technology. The current auto development race involves something called a “hub-and-spoke” architecture where mobility serves can only be provided once manufacturers and developers from multiple parts of the industry come together to develop something. Take the plans between BMW, Intel and Mobileye to join forces to make the fanciest new BMW’s ever. GM recently partnered with Lyft as well.

“OEMs are going their bit. Now it is up to governments and consumers to help pioneer mobility concepts make the breakthrough in the Middle East,” concluded Zarate.

Uber’s First Self-Driving Car

Uber’s first ever self-driving car is a Ford Fusion hybrid with what almost looks like an enormous speaker system fastened to the roof. Those aren’t speakers though; as one would expect from a self-driving car, it’s covered in cameras.

The autonomous Ford Fusions are currently navigating the streets of Pittsburgh, collecting mapping data and testing its self-driving capabilities. According to a blog post recently published by Uber, the cars are equipped with “radars, laser scanners, and high resolution cameras to map details of their environment.”

ford fusinoWhile the car may be technically driving itself, a trained driver remains behind the wheel for the sake of safety and security.

“While Uber is still in the early days of our self-driving efforts, every day of testing leads to improvements,” the company stated. “Right now we’re focused on getting the technology right and ensuring it’s safe for everyone on the road- pedestrians, cyclists and other drivers.”

A reporter for Pittsburgh’s Tribute-Review was given the opportunity to ride in one of the cars, which constituted the first time that a member of the media was allowed to get up close and personal with the operation. The reporter, Aaron Aupperlee, had this to say about his time in the self-driving car:

“The car drove itself over the 31st Street Bridge and along River Avenue on the North Side before turning around at the Heinz Lofts. The car will accelerate, brake, steer and perform other basic functions on its own. It switches out of self-driving mode with a loud beep if its sensors detect a car swerving into its lane or it encounters something it does not recognize or know how to negotiate…. The driver can take control of the car at anytime. The car’s sensors detected parked cars sticking out into traffic, jaywalkers, bicyclists and a goose crossing River Avenue.”

This event is the first time that Uber has actually officially confirmed that it’s testing its self-driving technology. Around this time last year, a fair amount of evidence was collected to deduce what they were up to in Pittsburgh, where Uber has set up its Advanced Technologies Center. However, any questions regarding their projects in 2015 went unanswered.

uber carPittsburgh has a diverse environment as a city, presenting a wide range of challeneges for Uber’s cars to navigate. According to the head of the ATC John Bares, “the city’s narrow and hilly streets, haphazard parking, rainy and snowy weather and aging infrastructure have made [Pittsburgh] a challenging place to test self-driving technology.”

Google has attracted a lot of attention in terms of its conspicuous self-driving car development efforts, but a lot of experts in the field have seen fit to watch Uber closely. Many assume that when self-driving cars are ready, they will initially be put to use as for-hire vehicles and that Uber is leading the for-hire vehicle market and therefore has the most to benefit from that development.

Recent headlines were made regarding laws that self-driving for-hire vehicles will need to have a driver seated in the front seat at all time.

How Volvo Plans to Make its Cars “Deathproof”

In 2007, Volvo announced its lofty goal of creating vehicles that could avoid all circumstances that would cause serious injuries to its passengers. Since that announcement, it has been working hard to make good on what sounds in our era like an impossible promise.

For example, the Swedish-based auto manufacturer is readying itself for the release of a fleet of 100 driverless cars in China’s city streets. According to Volvo, the challenege constitutes its “most advanced autonomous driving experiment.”

s90And the challenge is significant not only in terms of Volvo’s modest advancements in driverless technology; the release stands out in autonomous vehicle history in that no other car company has attempted to test this many self-driving cars simultaneously on real city streets. Although many different car manufacturers have been competitive in the race towards vehicle autonomy, Volvo is unique in this way. Volvo even raises the stakes one level further in that it will allow everyday users to ride in the vehicles as they are being tested.

Volvo recently announced that it is seeking out Chinese citizens to participate in the trials conducted on its fully autonomous XC90 model, which will take place on fully public roads.

That said, these tests may not occur as soon as Volvo is suggesting. In fact, according to Erik Coelingh, Volvo’s senior technical leader for safety and driver support technologies, the exact date of the trial has yet to be determined. The only clue as to the approximate time of tests lies in the fact that the trials in China fall under the larger umbrella of Volvo’s DriveMe program, which will also test 100 driverless Volvo models in Gothenburg, Sweden starting in 2017.

“It’s important we work with ordinary customers, real people,” stated Coelingh. “It’s not enough to just have test engineers driving cars around on a track- we want to see how people use a self driving car, do they feel comfortable, do they feel safe.”

Regarding the 2020 initiative, Coelingh stated that “no one should be seriously injured or killed in a new Volvo vehicle” four years in the future.

According to Coelingh, the DriveMe challenge is an example of Volvo’s interest in taking a step towards “a truly automated car where the driver can do something else.”

beijingVolvo has been testing semi-autonomous features for its more current vehicles as well. The latest Volvo S90 comes with Pilot Assist, which allows the vehicle to navigate autonomously at speeds up to 80 miles per hour.

Volvo plans to test its cars exclusively on roads they’ve chosen and mapped out in advance. Volunteers will only be eligible to lease a car and take part in the testing if their regular commute lies on those particular roads.

Unlike Google’s latest smart cars, the XC90 will come equipped with the same old-fashioned steering wheel. Test drivers will navigate the car themselves when on unmapped roads and be asked to give up control of the vehicle upon entering a mapped road.

Coelingh stated that one of the most important aspects of testing an autonomous car was forcing it through trial periods in different countries:

“If you want to have self-driving cars available all around the world, we will have to understand the exceptional situations from around the world,” he explained. “If a self-driving car works well in Gothenburg that doesn’t mean you can safely drive the car in Beijing or in London.”

General Motors Spends $1 Billion on Startup

General Motors recently announced its acquisition of an extremely small startup (composed of around 40 people) called Cruise Automation. It has stated that it’s interested in Cruise’s talent, but there may be more to it than GM’s explanation.

San Francisco start-up Cruise Technologies seemed like exactly the type of innovative group that any major automotive manufacturer might find valuable. GM in particular had been making investments and acquiring start-ups for years in an effort to find and incorporate new technical talent and new technologies that might bring the older company into the innovative wave of the 21st century.

cruise technologyGM has actually shown a lot of development in the past few decades; the company that developed the Hummer also created the Chevy Volt and Bolt series, and its 2016 Bolt is on track to hit the market later this year, beating Tesla to create an affordable electric car that costs somewhere around $30,000 and can travel over 200 miles on a single charge.

Reports have shown that GM actually paid something to the tune of $1 billion for the company. Although GM’s statement didn’t directly disclose the price of the acquisition, it hinted that its major motivation for the purchase was an attempt to bring Cruise’s engineering staff into the GM research and development team. That said, even in the Silicon Valley a price of $25 million per employee is a pretty insane rate.

So what is it that Cruise has that GM wants to desperately? According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the deal started out as a strategic investment as opposed to a full acquisition.

This information comes from Nabeel Hyatt, a Spark Capital partner that led Cruise’s Series A funding round in 2015. Apparently after seeing Cruise’s latest technology, GM moved to acquire the company all out.

GM also recently made a $500 million investment in the ride-sharing firm Lyft, a major competitor of Uber. Now the two companies are cooperating in an effort to create a framework for future automated ride-sharing services that will use autonomous vehicles. This sort of relationship with cars is said to be the future of consumers and transportation.

2015 Chevrolet Bolt EV Concept all electric vehicle. Front ¾ in city scape. Bolt EV Concept builds upon Chevy’s experience gained from both the Volt and Spark EV to make an affordable, long-range all-electric vehicle to market. The Bolt EV is designed to meet the daily driving needs of Chevrolet customers around the globe with more than 200 miles of range and a price tag around $30,000.

Some analysts believe that GM’s acquisition may imply that Cruise had a crucial piece of the puzzle in terms of solving the many problems that occur when people attempt to create self-driving cars. Cruise’s product is called the “RP-1” system and can apparently be retrofitted to certain Audi models in order to make them capable of limited autonomous driving capabilities. The technology is seen as roughly comparable to Tesla’s “Autopilot” system, allowing for hands-free driving on highways despite the total lack of legislation concerning the topic.

GM has been researching self-driving technology for years and is expected to release a limited version of a similar system, called Super Cruise, later this year as a feature on the Cadillac CT6 luxury sedan.

Unfortunately, GM recently stated this January that the system’s introduction might actually debut in 2017. It claimed it wanted to add additional functionality and work out some potential imperfections and bugs in the system it had currently.

4 Car Hacks You Need to Know

If you own a car and commute to work, chances are you’re going to spend about 1/10 of your waking hours sitting in your cabin. That means it’s worth it (by a letter grade!) to make that experience as meaningful as possible. Here’s a list of hacks that will help you turn your car time into you-time.

car cushions ergonomic1. Get comfortable.

It may seem silly or petty, but adding just a few accessories to your car can make all the difference. Ergonomic seat cushions, for example, can be the difference between improving your posture between appointments and realizing you now need to somehow find the time and energy to fix your years-in-the-making back issues.

Having useful and inexpensive accessories like a phone mount can also make your life a little less stressful; use GPS without taking your eyes off the road, or speak clearly into a well-positioned speaker phone. It’s worth the short set-up time.

Finally, accessorize based on who you are and what you legitimately like. If you want some silly pink shag seat cushions, just go for it. Want a sun-blocking windshield cover that makes the inside of your car look like the inside of the millennium falcon? Just do it! These are the kind of splurges that make you and your friends smile for years on end.

chrome rims2. Install what you want and what you need.

From a bike rack to chrome rims, it’s worth your while to finally get around to adding what you want and need to your car so that it easily functions within whatever parameters will make you have the highest quality of life. Love camping? Put a trailer hitch on your car so that you can tow whatever you need, whenever you need it. Want to sleep and party in your van? Put up those curtain rods and curtains with pride. You should always feel like your car is an extension of yourself, so adjust its appearance and functionality with that in mind.

3. Make it safe.

Your car will be with you 1/10 of your waking hours, which means when something serious and life-threatening happens, there’s a 1 in 10 chance you’ll be in your car at the time. Considering how prevalent car-related injuries are in the United States, Americans probably have a higher chance of being in their cars during serious moments.

All the more reason to keep a first aid kit and some emergency supplies in your car. Make sure you have flares (preferably LED flares), flash lights, water bottles, granola bars, and maybe even a satellite phone in the back of your car in case something really serious happens to you or in front of you.

4. Keep it organized.

There are so many ways to do this, and they all feel good once incorporated into a larger system of car organization and control. There are seatback hanging pockets that can keep everything from snacks to road maps to cell phones in their hanging hulls, plus trunk organizers equipped with built in coolers and lockable compartments. They’re all good, so take your pick!

How Do Car Engines Convert Liquid Fuel into Movement?

We take the process for granted, but it’s really an elegant system that people dedicate their lives to revising to better suit our modern times. Although the gas to miles traveled formula may soon be obsolete (we have to stop relying on oil at some point!), why not look into exactly how it works?

liquid fuelCars are energy converters, meaning they release the energy locked in a fuel like gasoline, diesel, baby diapers (google it!), and a variety of other substances. They then take this released energy and convert it into mechanical energy in moving wheels and gears. When the wheels begin to spin and the car starts to move, the mechanical energy becomes kinetic energy because we’re off an moving.

So how is the power harvested from the petroleum? Also called crude oil, petroleum is a thick, black energy-rich liquid that can be pumped out from underneath the ground to create diesel, gasoline, kerosene, and all kinds of petrochemicals that are used to make paints, plastics, stuff like that.

Petroleum floors are energy-rich because they’re full of hydrocarbons, which are molecules that consist mostly of hydrogen and carbon. Hydrocarbons are handy because their energy is easily released as heat by burning them (as a chemical process, this is called combustion). Car engines burn fuel in closed containers, allowing them to make the most efficient use of the released heat as possible.

Car engines have a lot of different components. Their fuel burns inside the cylinders (there are two to twelve cylinders in cars, and generally the more they have the more powerful [and expensive] they are). At one end those cylinders open and close like bicycle pumps and in that area are the very tight-fitting pistons, which are like little plungers that slide up and down inside them.

valves and stuffAt the top of each cylinder there are valves, which are just gates that can let stuff in or out and be opened or closed really fast. The inlet valve is responsible for allowing fuel and air to enter the cylinder from a carburetor or electronic-fuel injector. The outlet valve opens so that exhaust gases can be released.

Also at the top of the cylinder is an electrically controlled spark plug that makes a spark to set fire to the fuel in the first place. At the bottom of the cylinder, the piston is attached to a constantly turning axle called a crankshaft. That crankshaft powers the car’s gearbox which, in turn, powers the wheels.

…But how does a car generate power? The process can be explained in four basic steps.

Intake: The piston gets pulled down inside the cylinder by the crankshaft, which is just a spinning wheel that the piston is attached to at one end. The inlet valve opens, letting fuel and air into the cylinder.

Compression: The crankshift continued on its rotation and the piston moves upward, closing the inlet valve and creating pressure inside the cylinder by compressing the amount of space in there. When the piston reaches the very top of the cylinder, the spark plug fires.

How Do Car Engines Convert Liquid Fuel into Movement?

We take the process for granted, but it’s really an elegant system that people dedicate their lives to revising to better suit our modern times. Although the gas to miles traveled formula may soon be obsolete (we have to stop relying on oil at some point!), why not look into exactly how it works?

Cars are energy converters, meaning they release the energy locked in a fuel like gasoline, diesel, baby diapers (google it!), and a variety of other substances. They then take this released energy and convert it into mechanical energy in moving wheels and gears. When the wheels begin to spin and the car starts to move, the mechanical energy becomes kinetic energy because we’re off an moving.

So how is the power harvested from the petroleum? Also called crude oil, petroleum is a thick, black energy-rich liquid that can be pumped out from underneath the ground to create diesel, gasoline, kerosene, and all kinds of petrochemicals that are used to make paints, plastics, stuff like that.

Petroleum floors are energy-rich because they’re full of hydrocarbons, which are molecules that consist mostly of hydrogen and carbon. Hydrocarbons are handy because their energy is easily released as heat by burning them (as a chemical process, this is called combustion). Car engines burn fuel in closed containers, allowing them to make the most efficient use of the released heat as possible.

Car engines have a lot of different components. Their fuel burns inside the cylinders (there are two to twelve cylinders in cars, and generally the more they have the more powerful [and expensive] they are). At one end those cylinders open and close like bicycle pumps and in that area are the very tight-fitting pistons, which are like little plungers that slide up and down inside them.

At the top of each cylinder there are valves, which are just gates that can let stuff in or out and be opened or closed really fast. The inlet valve is responsible for allowing fuel and air to enter the cylinder from a carburetor or electronic-fuel injector. The outlet valve opens so that exhaust gases can be released.

Also at the top of the cylinder is an electrically controlled spark plug that makes a spark to set fire to the fuel in the first place. At the bottom of the cylinder, the piston is attached to a constantly turning axle called a crankshaft. That crankshaft powers the car’s gearbox which, in turn, powers the wheels.

…But how does a car generate power? The process can be explained in four basic steps.

Intake: The piston gets pulled down inside the cylinder by the crankshaft, which is just a spinning wheel that the piston is attached to at one end. The inlet valve opens, letting fuel and air into the cylinder.

Compression: The crankshift continued on its rotation and the piston moves upward, closing the inlet valve and creating pressure inside the cylinder by compressing the amount of space in there. When the piston reaches the very top of the cylinder, the spark plug fires.

Power: The spark ignites the pressurized fuel-air mixture inside the cylinder, causing a tiny explosion. The fuel burns immediately, creating hot gas that pushes the piston back down with its force. This is the energy released by the fuel now powering the piston-crankshaft attachment.

Exhaust: The outlet valve opens as the crankshaft continues to turn, its rotation now briefly powered by the explosion. The piston is forced back up into the cylinder, forcing out the exhaust gases produced when the fuel was burned.

Repeat and you’re on the road, headed wherever!

Car Repairs You Can Do at Home

Driving your brand new car off the lot is a great feeling. You finally got the car you want in the color you want, with all of the features you want. However, if you’re someone who has owned several vehicles you’ll know that this feeling quickly fades. It’s not that you become dissatisfied with your purchase, it’s that you realize the hefty ongoing costs associated with your vehicle. Even if you purchased your vehicle in cash thus forgoing the monthly payment there is still insurance, registration fees and most expensive of all, maintenance.

repair1If you’re not well versed in the world of auto repair, there’s not much you can do besides bring your vehicle to a trained mechanic if it completely breaks down. However, anyone whose anyone will tell you that the best way to avoid these costly trips to the mechanic is to properly maintain your vehicle so it never gets to that point. The best part of this is these things that keep your vehicle running healthy are things you can do right at home. Let’s take a look at a few.

Change Your Oil

Being on top of the life of your oil is without a doubt one of the most important points you need to focus on. There are a lot of moving metal parts in your car’s engine that cause it to function. Oil comes into play by lubricating these metal parts and making sure they run flawlessly. Without oil, those metal parts will quickly grind into one another completely ruining your engine.

Changing your oil is as easy as flushing the old oil, filling it with the new appropriate oil and changing the oil filter. While the specifics will vary depending on your make and model, oil changes are quick and easy and should be done every 3,000 – 7,000 miles.

Replace Fuels & Air Filters

While fuel and air filter different things, their concepts are quite similar. Air filters, quite obviously, filter the air and make sure that no dust or other debris gets into the engine. Alternatively, fuel filters ensure that all fuel getting to your engine is as clean as can be. If dust, debris or dirty fuel gets into your engine it can cause an unheard of amount of headaches.

Luckily, much like changing your oil, replacing your fuel and air filters is a breeze and involves simply swapping them out. The only thing to make sure of is you purchase the correct type of fuel and air filters before swapping them out. Employees of your local auto parts store would be more than happy to guide you in the right direction.

Replace Brake Pads

When it comes to safety, being able to stop your vehicle is probably up there with air bags and seatbelts. Just imagine if your car had no brakes – wouldn’t be pretty, right? While brake pads typically don’t need to be changed as often as your oil, fuel filters or air filters they do need to be changed and can cost hundreds of dollars if done by a mechanic. Luckily, they are quite simple to change when done at home. Changing your brake pads is going to take a big more time as it’s more involved than any of the above-mentioned procedures but if you buy the appropriate parts it’s something you can do very easily.

repair2In conclusion, repairing your own vehicle at home is practical, but not something that should be taken lightly. Though it’s simple, there isn’t room for much error. This is why if you’re not well versed in the world of auto repair, it’s imperative that you do your research. Additionally, if you have anything you’re unsure of taking it to your mechanic may be your best bet. Though it may cost a bit extra to change your brake pads, that’s a small price to pay to ensure your vehicle will be stopping correctly each and every time.