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German auto manufacturers BMW and Volkswagen have announced a new effort to team up with ChargePoint to develop new fast-charging stations. The new EV charging stations would be designed for plug-in hybrid vehicles and electric vehicles - which are growing in popularity in the United States.
"Most people will rarely use it, but knowing it is there seems to remove a big purchase barrier" for the growing number of electric vehicles on the road, according to Tom Gage, electric vehicle charging specialist.
ChargePoint currently operates more than 20,000 charging ports throughout North America - and creating custom agreements with automakers can help expand that reach. BMW recently unveiled its i3 and Volkswagen showed off its e-Golf, with both automakers understanding there will be minimal interest unless drivers have an increased number of locations to charge their vehicles.
According to Chris Urmson, the director of Self-Driving Cars for Google, the technology giant is working with automotive companies in the American city of Detroit to produce their new driverless cars.
As released by to the Detroit Free Press, the prototype Google cars witnessed last may are now "being developed and assembled at a Roush facility" and are claimed to be "more refined" versions of the prototypes that were previously on offer.
After being built, these cars will be sent to California for testing, seeing the test fleet measure an impressive 150 cars in total. With a few hundred team members apparently working on this project split between Californian and Detroit offices, Google show, once again, that they don't mess around when it comes to technology.
Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University claim they can cut urban commute times up to 40 percent using virtual traffic lights instead of physical traffic lights.
The connected technology appears on a vehicle dashboard and indicates which direction they can travel to catch a green light - and the visual indicators disappear after the vehicle goes through the intersection.
"With this technology, traffic lights will be created on demand when [two cars] are trying to cross this intersection, and they will be turned down as soon as we don't need it," said Ozan Tonguz, professor at Carnegie Mellon University. "It's almost like we are giving additional life to people. Life that is wasted on the road."
Google is looking for partners in the auto industry to lend a hand with self-driving and fully autonomous vehicle technology. Potential partners range from General Motors and Ford to Toyota, Volkswagen and Daimler, as fully autonomous vehicles could be production-ready in less than five years. The Silicon Valley tech giant already is working with LG Electronics, Continental AG and Robert Bosch, with its self-driving prototype cars also using NVIDIA hardware.
"We'd be remiss not to talk to... the biggest auto manufacturers," said Chris Urmson, director of the Google self-driving car project, in an interview with Reuters. "They've got a lot to offer. For us to jump in and say that we can do this better, that's arrogant."
It's possible a lack of government regulations regarding self-driving cars could push back mass production until 2022 or 2023, but companies want to make sure they are on top of the technology.
Verizon today unveiled its Verizon Vehicle service during the North American Auto Show in Detroit, helping unconnected cars become connected. The service is available to almost 9,000 models, any vehicle from 1996 or later, available regardless of mobile service provider.
The technology works when an OBD reader is plugged into a vehicle's onboard diagnostic port, with a two-way Bluetooth speaker located inside the cab of the vehicle. Once installed, drivers have access to a mobile app that allows for emergency aid requests, diagnosing mechanical problems, and dispatching a tow truck if mechanical failure occurs.
"Verizon Vehicle is a unique and truly holistic aftermarket solution available to over 200 million vehicles on the road today," said Erik Goldman, president of Verizon Telematics, in a press release. "It affords millions of drivers the power of knowing when things aren't working well, potentially before a breakdown occurs - fostering a safer, smarter and more economical way to drive and maintain a vehicle. And while even the best technology can't prevent every breakdown, the service modernizes the traditional roadside assistance offerings which, for the most part, haven't been updated in 50 years."
Although there is nothing official regarding General Motors and Google working together regarding autonomous vehicles, it's something GM would be interested in hearing more about. Google will take the stage later this week at the Detroit auto show, calling for potential automaker partners to work with.
"I'm not in charge of deciding what we will and won't do, but I'd say we'd certainly be open to having a discussion with them," said Jon Lauckner, chief technology officer of GM, speaking to Reuters. "You have to figure out how would something like that actually work? Would it be something where it would be an opportunity to work together in a joint development agreement?"
Self-driving technology, whether semi-autonomous or fully-autonomous, will only increase in upcoming years - receiving a larger amount of dedicated research.
Autonomous vehicles could begin to see wider rollout on American roads and highways by 2017, with an estimated market valued at $42 billion by 2025, according to the Boston Consulting Group.
It's possible an automaker will introduce a self-driving model in the next five years, according to Ford CEO Mark Fields at the CES 2015 last week.
"Many people don't realize how far along some of these technologies are," said Savier Mosquet, from the Boston Consulting Group. "Even more surprising, consumer interest and the production costs will make autonomous vehicles highly attractive to both carmakers and their customers."
General Motors teased us in late 2014 with a 200-mile range electric car, with media outlets reporting that it was going to be something similar to the Chevrolet Sonic - a car which saw its debut in 2011.
The Wall Street Journal has unleashed information on GM's new market offering - the Chevrolet Bolt, pinned for a 2017 release. The report outlines that this car is styled to look like a crossover and the concept will be featured this coming Monday at the Detroit Auto Show.
Claimed to be released to the public for only $30,000, it's not clear if this price is inclusive or excluding the $7,500 federal tax credit. Comparing the Spark to the Bolt, its older brother only costs $26,820 excluding the tax, meaning that if GM are releasing their Bolt for $30,000 including tax - you're getting double the range for only $3,000 more.
Car maker Nissan and the NASA space agency have signed a five-year research and develop partnership, which will boost autonomous vehicle research. Nissan has already tested its autonomous vehicles in urban environments, with the car designed to deal with other vehicles, construction, pedestrians, cyclists, and other common scenarios.
Specifically, there is interest in developing software algorithms, concepts and integrated prototypes of self-driving autonomous vehicles - giving Nissan a much-needed boost in the surging market, while NASA hopes to implement breakthroughs into its space research.
"All of our potential topics of research collaboration with Nissan are areas in which Ames has strongly contributed to major NASA programs," said Pete Worden, director of AMES. "Ames developed Mars rover planning software, robots onboard the International Space Station (ISS) and next-generation air traffic management systems to name a few. We look forward to applying knowledge developed during this partnership toward future space and aeronautics endeavors."
CES 2015 - Similar to other major auto makers, Ford has already developed semi-autonomous vehicle features, but is dreaming big and looking ahead to fully autonomous technology.
The company already has lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, pre-collision assist with pedestrian detection, and active park assist in newer Ford models.
"We're already manufacturing and selling semi-autonomous vehicles that use software and sensors to steer into both parallel and perpendicular parking spaces, adjust speed based on traffic low or apply the brakes in an emergency," said Raj Nair, VP and CTO of Ford, during the Ford CES keynote. "There will be a Ford autonomous vehicle in the future, and we take putting one on the road very seriously."