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November 7, 2017 News of the Day: Google & VW Partner on Quantum Computers to Develop Battery & Self-Driving Technology, Tencent Develops Autonomous Driving System

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【Summary】November 7, 2017 News of the Day

Eric Walz    Nov 07, 2017 12:30 PM PT
November 7, 2017 News of the Day: Google & VW Partner on Quantum Computers to Develop Battery & Self-Driving Technology, Tencent Develops Autonomous Driving System

Google & VW Partner on Quantum Computers to Develop Battery & Self-Driving Technology

Volkswagen AG plans three research projects on a Google quantum computer as part of the German automaker's push to develop new digital features for cars and broaden its technological heft beyond manufacturing and selling vehicles.

The projects include refining traffic-management systems, simulating the structure of electric-car batteries and other materials as well as artificial intelligence for autonomous driving, Wolfsburg-based Volkswagen said Tuesday in a statement.

"Quantum computer technology opens new dimensions for us," Chief Information Officer Martin Hofmann said in the statement. "We from Volkswagen want to be among the first to use quantum computing as a company as soon as this technology is commercially available."

The world's largest automaker has stepped up spending on electric vehicles and new digital services like ride hailing as part of a comprehensive overhaul in the wake of its diesel-emissions scandal. The strategy is part of seismic shift across the auto industry to virtually connected, battery-powered cars that can drive themselves.

Google will be providing access to powerful devices that use the principles of quantum mechanics to process information in a wider variety of ways than a conventional computer, which uses just a binary system to identify data. VW started its first quantum-computing project in March in China to optimize traffic for 10,000 taxis in Beijing, using another technology supplier.

"We're looking forward to explore together how quantum computing could change and bring forward the automobile industry," Hartmut Neven, development head at Google Quantum Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, said in the statement.

Tencent Develops Autonomous Driving System

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HONG KONG — Tencent Holdings has developed its own autonomous driving system, according to people familiar with the matter, becoming the latest technology player to dive into a crowded field that soon may become a $42 billion industry.

The Chinese social media giant intends to leverage its mapping and artificial intelligence (AI) technology to compete in a sector that's attracted investment from the likes of Alphabet Inc.'s Waymo as well as local rivals Baidu and Alphabet the sources said, requesting anonymity. However, it's unclear how far the development effort has advanced so far. Tencent has a prototype and begun testing the system internally, the sources said.

Tencent would be by far China's biggest entrant into the autonomous driving field.

Tencent is a major backer of ride-sharing giant Didi Chuxing and mapmaker NavInfo Co.., Industry analysts predicted the social media company to come up with its own self-driving technology. The move means Tencent will compete against Baidu Inc., which has invested billions of dollars on AI and driving research and intends to get autonomous vehicles on roads by 2018. Tencent also purchased a 5 percent stake in electric car maker Tesla in March, and is now Tesla's fourth-largest shareholder, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Autonomous driving has been identified as one of the key spaces that could help Chinese manufacturers become more innovative and competitive globally. Shenzhen-based Tencent had made bets previously on mapping, internet connectivity and image recognition, which could all help the company compete with Baidu in a market for electrics cars projected to be the world's biggest. Tencent Chairman Ma Huateng said in March he wanted the company developing AI-based technology for driverless cars in the future.

Jane Yip, a spokeswoman for Tencent, declined to comment.

Tencent's also an early backer of Nio, the electric-vehicle startup owned by Chinese internet entrepreneur William Li and originally called NextEV Inc. Nio's U.S. headquarters are in Silicon Valley and the company has vowed to bring a plug-in autonomous car to the U.S. market by 2020.

In July, Baidu, the operator of China's largest search engine, launched its Apollo Platform, one of the world's largest and most diversified open autonomous driving alliances, with more than 50 partners including Ford and Daimler. Also in July, Tencent formed an alliance with a group of industry players including BAIC to ramp up development and tech transfer of artificial intelligence (AI) that is used in autonomous driving.

Lamborghini Unveils Electric Super Sports Car Concept

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Italian automobile maker Lamborghini and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are working together to create an electric super sports car, possibly leading to a market-ready product.

The collaboration started in earnest one year ago with the signing of an agreement between the academic institution and automaker. Five years ago, Lamborghini started putting low voltage supercapacitors in the V12 Aventador and the partnership is seen as next step in developing the technology for application in future Lamborghini vehicles.

The goal of the program is to address five technological areas of the vehicle, inlcuding energy storage systems, innovative materials, propulsion system, visionary design, and emotion. Research will be going on in two of MIT's labs  led by Prof. Mircea Dinca, Department of Chemistry and the Mechanosynthesis Group, led by Prof. Anastasios John Hart, Department of Mechanical Engineering, with the goal of innovating materials science and energy storage including the potential of supercapacitors.

To celebrate the partnership, yesterday the automaker unveiled Lamborghini of the Terzo Millennio, a concept vehicle that plays into the collective venture's spirit and the aesthetic commonly seen on modern Lamborghini vehicles.

The innovation brought forth by the agreement doesn't stop at power. Lamborghini looks to improve lightweighting techniques through carbon fiber structure and parts development. Professor. Hart has been charged with developing the body of the Terzo Millennio into an energy storage system. Additionally, monitoring systems built into the body and parts of the car will aim to detect defects in the carbon fiber that are the result of an accident and start a self-repairing process via advanced chemistry.

The concept signals the first steps in what the automaker is calling "Lamborghini Electric."

The company aims to take advantage of the four-wheel drive, high torque, and reversibility electric power offers helping to compete with vehicles in development from Ferrari, Porsche, and McLaren.

Like most every concept car, the Terzo Millinnio is an expression of the design direction of the brand while showcasing advances in technology. This particular concept was designed by the Lamborghini Centro Stile.

IC Bus Unveils IC Electric Bus chargE, Its All-New Electric School Bus

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — IC Bus today unveiled the IC Electric Bus chargE, its new electric CE Series concept school bus developed with its alliance partner, Volkswagen Truck & Bus. The chargE was designed to give customers a zero-emissions school bus option while lowering the total cost of ownership and offering user-friendly options and features with diesel-like performance.

The company unveiled the chargE at the 2017 National Association for Pupil Transportation Annual Conference and Trade Show, and expects to launch its first unit as early as 2019.

"The chargE demonstrates how our alliance with Volkswagen Truck & Bus is allowing us to move even faster into electric powertrains and other advanced technologies, thanks to our ability to leverage both companies' technology investments and components," said Bill Kozek, senior vice president, Strategic Initiatives, Navistar.

"Additionally, our electric school bus is another example of how IC Bus is driving the future of school bus transportation by providing a wide range of powertrain solutions, including electric propulsion, propane, gasoline and diesel," said Trish Reed, vice president and general manager, IC Bus.

The new chargE concept electric school bus incorporates a common group electric drivetrain from Volkswagen Truck & Bus that is quiet, does not produce any emissions, and can be built to address any school bus customer's specific requirements. The range of the chargE can exceed 120 miles, while the powertrain can deliver up to 260 kW (about 349 peak horsepower).

"We're proud to introduce our electric powertrain concept vehicle engineered to meet the demands of the 21st century school bus industry," noted Reed. "As battery technology evolves, we continue to explore a variety of electric technologies to meet our customers' needs in the final design of the CE Series electric-powered school bus."

At the inaugural North American Commercial Vehicle Show in Atlanta this past September, Navistar and Volkswagen Truck & Bus Group announced plans to develop an electric-powered, medium-duty vehicle for Navistar's Core (U.S. and Canada) market, which it also expects to launch as early as 2019. The chargE concept vehicle represents the second electric powertrain vehicle coming out of the alliance built with a common group electric drivetrain from Volkswagen Truck & Bus.

"We are embracing technology and innovation that make drivers safer and more satisfied, while providing the school bus industry with vehicles that are safe, reliable and efficient," said Reed. "IC Bus leads the school bus industry in uptime through a powerful combination of manufacturing excellent products and having the industry's strongest dealer network that keeps our customers' buses on the road."

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