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Qualcomm Chip Brings Mobile Savvy To Auto Industry

As cars become smarter and more advanced we look to technology based companies to create different features that stand out from the rest.

On Tuesday at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show, the San Diego, Calif.-based chip maker announced the second generation of its automotive-grade “system on a chip” (SoC) with the Snapdragon 820A. The new chip is built off of its latest mobile phone processors.

The 820A contains all custom Qualcomm silicon, including a 64-bit Kryo CPU, Adreno 530 GPU and Hexagon 680 DSP. What does any of that mean? It means it can power a car infotainment systems with 4K graphics. More importantly, though, the new chip will support Qualcomm’s deep learning algorithms called Zeroth. First announced with mobile SoC Snapdragon 820, Zeroth runs locally on the Qualcomm chip and is used to analyze and classify images and sounds. Qualcomm has demonstrated how Zeroth can recognize specific objects like people, animals or even hand gestures. As more cameras and sensors get added to cars, this kind of image recognition is an essential part in the future of autonomous driving.

The SoC will also come paired with a Qualcomm LTE modem. The company’s new x12 LTE modem supports download speed of up to 600 megabytes per second and upload speeds of up to 150 Mbps. And like many cars now, the new chip can generate a WiFi hotspot.

Qualcomm announced its first generation SoC focused on car infotainment systems with the Snapdragon 602A at CES in 2014. And after two years, Qualcomm finally has a customer to announce: Audi. The Germany company will start shipping Snapdragon 602A-powered cars in 2017 vehicles.

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You Can Add In A Stereo, Change The Tires And Now Modify Your Cars Software

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – What better way to make sure your car drives like you want it too than to change the software of the car.

Car owners and computer security researchers can modify automobile software without incurring some U.S. copyright liability, according to new guidelines issued this month that had been opposed by the auto industry.

The Library of Congress, which oversees the U.S. Copyright Office, agreed with fair use advocates who argued that vehicle owners are entitled to modify their cars, which often involves altering software.

Automakers including General Motors, and other companies such as John Deere, opposed the rules. They said vehicle owners could visit authorized repair shops for changes they may need to undertake.

However, U.S. copyright officials decided that altering computer programs for vehicle repair or modification may not infringe a manufacturer’s software copyright.

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New Automotive Technologies Opens Window Of Opportunity For Samsung

SEOUL – Who could have foreseen a future where we can answer a call by driving, with one single command or play your favorite song because you asked the car to? Electronics and technology is changing rapidly when it involves car, which is why the tech companies want to enter now.

Samsung Electronics and group companies are making a belated push into the business of supplying technology to carmakers, while rivals are already lining up lucrative deals with an industry that is notoriously difficult to enter.

Data compiled by Thomson Reuters IP & Science shows the world’s top smartphone maker and other Samsung Group tech affiliates are ramping up r&d for auto technology, with two-thirds of their combined 1,804 U.S. patent filings related to electric vehicles and electric components for cars coming since 2010.

The analysis did not include filings made after 2013 due to a lag between filing and publication.

They haven’t yet landed significant business, and Samsung Group declined to comment on strategy, but the lure is obvious.

Automakers already incorporate or are developing technologies to enhance safety and provide better smartphone connectivity and entertainment systems, creating an opening for tech companies to break into a market for software, services and components that is worth around $500 billion, ABI Research analyst Dominique Bonte said.

“There are two trends: the car becomes a connected software device, and the entire mobile and ICT ecosystem is getting very interested in playing a part in that evolution,” Bonte said.

That is particularly welcome as demand for smartphones, TVs and computers slows, but Samsung is arriving late at a party where some of the best partners are already taken.

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New Technology Allows Insurance Companies Insight On Teenage Drivers

It takes years for drivers to build up creditability with insurance companies. Now thanks to Ingenie and Aviva Insurance young drivers can receive compensation for good driving habits early on.

Normally insurance payments are steep until drivers reach 25. However, with this new UK based company operating in Canada, drivers between the ages of 16 and 24 have the chance to prove they are good drivers and receive lower rates.

How this is done is through an internet operated device that will review, record, and evaluate driving habits. This is a first in North America, as most drivers must wait until they reach 50 for the possibility of low rates because they are safe drivers, now we can reward them for their success earlier in their lifetime.

Read the full story here.

Toyota to Launch Advanced Active-Safety Systems in 2015

Toyota Motor Corp. is getting closer to autonomous cars. The company will begin to release a range of advanced active-safety systems to the masses next year.

The new or re-engineered technologies, unveiled Wednesday in Tokyo, encompass more sophisticated precrash braking packages, a better auto-parking feature, a next-generation auto-adjust headlamp and a vehicle-to-infrastructure and vehicle-to-vehicle communication system.

Toyota will begin rolling out the technologies in early 2015, Chief Safety Technology Officer Moritaka Yoshida said.

Initial products, such as the auto-parking and vehicle-to-vehicle communication systems, will debut in Japan and later migrate to other markets, including the U.S. Others, including two precrash auto-braking packages, will be released in the U.S. as early as next year.

Affordable

Toyota did not disclose pricing for the new systems, but the goal is to introduce affordable advanced safety technologies that can be deployed in mass-volume nameplates, Yoshida said.

Toyota is introducing the technologies in a push to burnish its safety credentials as automakers seek to differentiate themselves from rivals. The systems are also basic building-block technologies that will underpin future autonomous cars.

Yoshida said automakers have reached a point of diminishing returns from improvements in passive systems such as stronger body frames and seat belts. Faster gains will come from technologies that prevent crashes, he said.

“There is a limit to reducing the number of fatalities through passive safety,” he said. “We must also focus on active safety.”

Read the full story here.

Toyota Reveals “Car of the Future”

Toyota has unveiled its concept car, Urban Utility (or U^2). It offers a look into the future of technology for the next generation of automobiles and consumers.

The U^2, or Urban Utility, has a box-shaped exterior with a customizable interior that features a sleek design, removable front seat, an intuitive shifter and a spot to mount a tablet in place of a radio.

The vehicle, “inspired by a growing innovative spirit in urban areas,” was created by the automaker’s Calty Design Research Team, according to a news release. Toyota operates a truck plant in San Antonio that directly employees nearly 3,000 people.

“Vehicle elements reflect the lifestyle and needs of an entrepreneurial, urban driver,” the release reads.

Technology magazine Wired’s take on that phrase: “In other words, it’s made for millennials, the startup-crazy city dwellers who just aren’t buying cars the way their predecessors did.”

Read the story here.

Apps and Other Aids to Limit Distracted-Driving Enter the Market

Texting and driving is dangerous, it’s a fact. Distracted driving was cited as the cause of more than 3,300 deaths nationwide in 2012 and thousands more injuries. With new technology, our phones may actually help us stay focused behind the wheel.

Surveys show that drivers recognize the danger of distracted driving, and 43 states and the District of Columbia forbid texting while driving, yet large percentages of drivers — including roughly three-quarters of teens and other young drivers — continue to do it anyway. We have not managed to put down our devices long enough to get from point A to point B, even under threat of death or injury.

For all of us who know better, but can’t seem to police ourselves nor our driving-age children, a market has emerged for apps and other aids that limit distracted-driving for us.

Cellcontrol, of Baton Rouge, La., is one of a growing number of third-party suppliers of systems that let an administrator, likely a parent, to limit their child’s phone use while the car is in motion. Cellcontrol charges $119 to $129 for its device, which either plugs into the car’s diagnostic computer or adheres to the windshield in the form of a small black transponder.

The device determines when the vehicle is in motion and disables phone functions to the administrator’s preset customized levels, such as enabling only calls to emergency numbers or preventing texting. Hopefully a decrease in distracted driving thanks to apps means a decrease in fatal accidents.

Read the full article here.

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