CES Automotive roundup: Samsung, Intel, Ford, Qualcomm, Toyota, Amazon

CES 2018 was packed with new deals and products in the automotive sector. Autonomous driving has once again seen a host of announcements, particularly in terms of real-time mapping, while multiple proponents of Cellular-Vehicle to Everything (C-V2X) have used the show to release their plans for the technology. Here is a rundown of the most notable automotive news from the show so far.

Samsung reveals Drvline platform, C-V2X telematics box:

Samsung has revealed DrvLine, a modular hardware and software-based platform for autonomous driving. Samsung is claiming that the biggest selling point of DrvLine is that it is an open platform, meaning that OEMs will be able to decide precisely which hardware and software they wish to incorporate in their autonomous driving system.

DrvLine will include a forward-facing camera system for advanced driver assistance (ADAS), features of which will include lane departure warning, forward collision waring, pedestrian detection, and automatic emergency braking – engineered to meet upcoming New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) standards.

Samsung points to the fact that an all-in-one self-driving platform still doesn’t exist, and that delivering one will take multiple technologies from a range of vendors. Self-driving platforms, from the likes of Intel’s Mobileye. are not open, and automakers are made to conform to the hardware and software system standards when using the technology. DrvLine could make an attractive alternative proposition, for those OEMs looking for more development control over their self-driving system.

Samsung has revealed a new Telematics Control Unit (TCU). The product has been developed on the back of Samsung’s 2016 purchase of automotive specialists Harman – also known for its JLB-branded speakers.

The new TCU supports the 3GPP Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (C-V2X) standard, a technology that enables vehicles to communicate with each other and the surrounding road infrastructure such as traffic lights and signs.

Samsung said the TCU has been built to connect to LTE networks, but that the same platform will be able to connect to higher-bandwidth 5G networks in the future – this will be critical as more connected services are offered to drivers, and the market for vehicle data begins to develop. Samsung also hinted at already signing a leading European automaker as the first customer for its solution.

Intel signs partnerships to demo vehicle data potential

In a keynote speech, Intel CEO Krzanich announced that BMW, Nissan, and Volkswagen are moving their Mobileye-based mapping design pilots to actual deployments, and announced a new collaboration with Chinese players SAIC Motor and NavInfo – to extend crowdsourced map building to China.

Intel’s Mobileye Road Experience Management (REM) will be deployed in 2m vehicles across the BMW, Nissan, and Volkswagen brands in 2018. The REM will crowdsource data from the vehicles to build and rapidly update low-cost, high-definition maps throughout the year.

In terms of the partnership with SAIC, Intel will be working with company to help it develop SAE Level 3, 4 and 5 cars in China, based again on Mobileye technology – as well as partnering with NavInfo to develop real-time mapping in the same country.

Mobileye also announced that it would be partnering with Gett, Buggy TLC Leasing, and Berkshire Hathaway, along with government administrations. The partners will deploy Mobileye 8 Connect in thousands of vehicles, to enable cities to build a map which can help them respond to and prevent collisions. Mobileye 8 Connect requires a single camera sensor and processing unit, and can be retrofitted onto any vehicle, and includes ADAS features.

Ford collabs with Qualcomm on C-V2X, announces smart city platform

Ford and Qualcomm have agreed to begin testing C-V2X. Ford will start conducting field validation testing on C-V2X in early 2018, Qualcomm says that it expects this could lead to the product being commercially available to in the second half of 2018 – depending on Ford’s results.

Automakers typically have a 3-year development cycle, where they test any new hardware before deploying it in a vehicle, so it’s unlikely that we see C-V2X deployed in a commercial Ford vehicle before the second half of 2021 – if this is the first proper test. However, this is still a fast turn-around given that Qualcomm only launched its 9150 C-V2X chip in September – but that lead time could be lessened if Ford can build on its LTE knowledge.

Ford has also announced that it is using its October investment in Automatic to develop the Transportation Mobility Cloud (TMC), a platform that aims to manage connection between vehicle and a city’s infrastructure. The TMC will use the C-V2X connectivity that Ford plans to add to its vehicles, to allow the city’s infrastructure to track and manage traffic in real time, using it say to reroute traffic away from congested streets.

Automatic CEO, Sunny Madra, believes that eventually other automakers will join the TMC platform, making it more effective for the city traffic management. The TMC will also add a bunch of new consumer services enabling automakers to generate revenue across the platform. As more automakers add V2X connectivity to their vehicles, the potential market for the TMC will grow.

Ford also announced that it will be testing automated driving in Uber-style delivery courier Postmates fleet. Ford will evaluate the experience for both merchants and consumers, with the hope in future that all Postmates orders are delivered by driverless cars.

Toyota to offer Alexa in vehicles, joins AGL with Amazon

Amazon announced that it would be joining the Automotive Grade Linux (AGL). Joining AGL should allow Amazon to offer Alexa in vehicles which use the AGL in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) code and framework. In addition, Toyota has partnered with Amazon to offer Alexa in its 2018 Entune 3.0 App Suite, which will be available in a limited range of models from this year.

Amazon has said that the Alexa skill set supported in the car will be nearly feature-complete, allowing drivers to get news updates, control the infotainment system, build to-do lists, and control connected smart home devices – and of course, consume Amazon products and services.

Toyota, as the largest automaker by unit sales, is a big scoop for Amazon, as it will help to proliferate Alexa. Other OEMs will be paying close attention, because voice recognition and smart home integration could become defining features that customers look for when purchasing vehicles.