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Category Archives: Automotive

The commercial vehicle Autonomous

The commercial vehicle industry has undergone significant developments since the world recovered from the economic recession. Specially, the global truck industry which is developing at a very fast pace in terms of growing profit pools and acceptance of game changing market trends such as “Telematics” and “Autonomous Driving”.

However, like many infrastructure dependent trends, the growth and acceptance of autonomous driving in commercial vehicles is different in developed economies of US & Europe as compared to emerging markets like India.

After the revolution of driverless cars, commercial vehicles are next in line. That is the next logical step. In fact, Daimler has already launched its first road approved truck for autonomous operation in US. Daimler says “This is a truck which the driver can finally let go – at least of the steering wheel”.

In opinion of the Industry experts, this trend might take another 10 years to reach a point where autonomous trucks are operating on public roads (the developed nation’s roads to be precise). This is a trend which is more dependent on the legislative system, policy issues and government approvals than the advancement of technology.

India as we know is a country enriched with a huge potential in IT & analytical skills. A large portion of R&D and technological development can be taken over by India. However, we might not have the best suited legislative system and an open public opinion about such developments.

Experts suggest that to begin with, the agriculture sector can be explored as an early adopter because of two major reasons. First, the vehicles will operate away from other human beings so it ensures safety of people around. Second, there is always a need to address food supply issues for the growth of economy.Moreover, the technology involved in modern tractors is very much similar to the modern cars.

This reasoning makes complete sense as to why India’s Mahindra Group, the largest tractors producer globally, has started with R&D to develop autonomous commercial vehicles including driverless tractors. Mr. Anand Mahindra, Chairman and Managing Director of the Mahindra Group believes that “The tractors that operate autonomously could change the future of food production”

“Autonomous commercial vehicles operating on public roads in India” is a concept that seems unrealistic for India but isn’t that what we thought about many technologies some 15 years ago. Who thought the navigations systems could ever work on Indian roads, but, look at us now. We are dependent on them for every trip that we take.

 

Automobile Manufacturing Companies

The automobile (automotive companies) sector has mushroomed over the years into a mature and well established industry. Innovation and manufacturing of vehicles has helped the industry to grow into a profitable one. Automobile companies have contributed significantly to the development of the world’s economy by creating jobs paying lots of taxes and earning loads of foreign exchange. There are several automobile manufacturing companies in the world that produces vehicles in a large quantity.

Here we have listed the top 7 largest automobile manufacturing companies in the world.

1) Tata Motors:
Tata Motors is the Asia’s largest and 17th largest automobile manufacturing company in the world. This company is known for its production of cars, trucks, vans, coaches and so on. Tata Motors record the highest sales and is widely popular across the country in 2017.

This company is passionate about anticipating and providing the best commercial and passenger vehicles globally as well as the best customer experiences.

Tata Motors can be found on and off-road in over 175 countries around the globe. Cars, buses and trucks of Tata Motors roll out at 20 locations across the world, seven in India and the rest in the UK, South Korea, Thailand, South Africa and Indonesia.

2) Maruti Suzuki:
Maruti Suzuki had brought a big revolution in the automobile industry. This is one of the old companies that expertise in the field of production of cars. This company has manufactured cars such as Alto, Omni, Estilo and so on. The total annual production capacity of this company is about 14, 50,000 units.

Maruti Suzuki works with a mission to provide a car for every individual, family, need, budget and Way of Life. For this, it offers 15 brands and over 150 variants ranging from Alto 800 to the Life Utility Vehicle Maruti Suzuki Ertiga.

4) Hero MotoCorp Ltd:
Hero MotoCorp Ltd is one of the best companies in India. Hero MotoCorp Ltd. (Formerly Hero Honda Motors Ltd.) is the world’s largest manufacturer of two – wheelers, based in India.

This company achieved the coveted position of being the largest two-wheeler manufacturing company in India in 2001 and the ‘World No.1’ two-wheeler company in terms of unit volume sales in a calendar year. Hero MotoCorp two wheelers are manufactured across 4 globally benchmarked manufacturing facilities.

5) Toyota Motor Corporation:
Toyota Motor Corporation is one of the top most automobile manufacturing companies in the world. This company designs, manufacturers and markets various automobile product ranges from SUVs, minivans, luxury & sport utility vehicles, trucks and buses among others.

Toyota Motor Corporation has other vehicle manufacturing subsidiaries which include Daihatsu Motor for the production of mini-vehicles and Hino Motors for the production of buses and trucks. Toyota car engines are fixed with either combustion or lately the hybrid engines such as the one in the Prius.

6) MITSUBISHI MOTORS CORPORATION:
Mitsubishi Motors Corporation develops design, and manufacture, sale and purchase automobiles and component parts, replacement parts. This company manufactures component parts, replacement parts and accessories of said used automobiles.

Mitsubishi helps to bring higher productivity and quality to the factory floor. In addition, extensive service networks around the globe provide direct communication and comprehensive support to customers.

7) Honda Motor Co Ltd. Company:
Honda Motor Co Ltd. Company is a world leading automaker and the largest motorcycle producer in the world. Its motorcycle lines feature everything from super bikes to scooters, with the company also being dedicated to the production of personal watercrafts and ATVs.

The models of this company include seven luxury vehicle models as well as SUVs and others. Within its lines are also Honda Power products and machinery such as snow blowers, tillers, lawn mowers, outboard motors and portable generators. Engine quality, durability and economic fuel consumption are the main reasons why customers prefer Honda machines.

 

Toyota electric car’s

Toyota is working on an electric car powered by a new type of battery that significantly increases driving range and reduces charging time, aiming to begin sales in 2022, a Japanese newspaper reported.

The car have an all-new platform. It will also use solid-state batteries, allowing it to be recharged in just a few minutes, the Chunichi Shimbun daily reported on Tuesday, without citing sources.

Toyota has decided to sell the new model in Japan as early as 2022, the paper said.

Toyota spokeswoman Kayo Doi said the company would not comment on specific product plans but added that it aimed to commercialize all-solid-state batteries by the early 2020s.

Toyota is looking to close the gap with EV leaders such as Nissan and Tesla as battery-powered cars gain traction around the globe as a viable emissions-free alternative to conventional cars.

Whether Toyota will be able to leapfrog its rivals remains to be seen, however, as mass production requires a far more stringent level of quality control and reliability.

“There’s a pretty long distance between the lab bench and manufacturing,” said CLSA auto analyst Christopher Richter. “2022 is ages away, and a lot can change in the meantime.”

Having long touted hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles and plug-in hybrids as the most sensible technology to make cars greener, Toyota last year said it wanted to add long-range EVs to its lineup. The automaker set up a new in-house unit, headed by President Akio Toyoda, to develop and market EVs.

Toyota is reportedly planning to begin mass-producing EVs in China, the world’s biggest auto market, as early as in 2019, although that model would be based on the existing C-HR crossover and use lithium-ion batteries.

Other automakers such as BMW are also working on developing solid-state batteries, eyeing mass production in the next 10 years.

Solid-state batteries use solid electrolytes rather than liquid ones, making them safer than lithium ion batteries currently on the market.

Automotive Remanufacturing

Remanufacturing is a standardized industrial process* by which cores are returned to same-as-new, or better, condition and performance. The process is in line with specific technical specifications, including engineering, quality and testing standards. The process yields fully warranted products.
*An industrial process is an established process, which is fully documented, and capable to fulfill the requirements established by the remanufact

A core is a previously sold, worn or non-functional product or part, intended for the remanufacturing process. During reverse logistics, a core is protected, handled and identified for remanufacturing to avoid damage and to preserve its value. A core is not waste or scrap and is not intended to be reused before remanufacturing.

REMANUFACTURED PART

  A remanufactured part fulfills a function which is at least equivalent compared to the original part. It is restored from an existing part (CORE), using standardized industrial processes in line with specific technical specifications. A remanufactured part is given the same warranty as a new part and it clearly identifies the part as a remanufactured part and states the remanufacturer.

The common language is a landmark achievement inautomotive remanufacturing, and offers a bright future for an industrythat has already benefitted from greater awareness, among policy makers and the general public, in recent years. In 2015, the United States Congress passed legislation recognizing the federal government’s responsibility for outfitting its vehicles through remanufacture. The same year the G7 Alliance for Resource Efficiency declared its support for remanufacturing at a summit attended by representatives from business, government, organized labor, research, and science.

Despite the trend toward official recognition and support for the industry, the absence of unified and codified language to describe key terms, threatened to undermine the gains in automotive remanufacturing. The lack of cohesion led to misunderstanding and sub-optimal growth, as well as competition, rather than collaboration, among organizations representing auto remanufacturers, all with a common goal of growing the industry. Early indications suggest that this state of affairs is over.

As the Asia-Pacific partner of the APRA (Automotive Parts Remanufacturers Association), a non-profit trade association representing more than 1,000 automotive remanufacturers, Duxes has a history of engagement with and support for the automotive remanufacturing industry.With the release of the reman terminology, we will take the responsibility of promoting the terms and definitions in China and Asia Pacific area, and inform the rapidly expandingremanufacturing industryof the prospect for increased efficiency, and cooperation with international partners, offered by the new terminology, as well as the potential for futurelegal recognition.

VEHICLE CONNECTIVITY

Automotive suppliers and companies from other fields are jockeying to team up with the right group of partners to provide services for connected vehicles and smart cities. The collaborations cross boundaries to include insurance companies, app providers and public services as well as a range technology suppliers.

Connected vehicles are rapidly moving into the mainstream, putting pressure on companies to figure out what services and features they want to offer. App companies, cellular and satellite providers, insurance companies, data centers and service providers are all struggling to cash in on the connected car boom. Communication companies like Ericsson are attempting to help vehicle owners find the apps and services they need. Ericsson created a center for app and service providers.

Automakers also detailed the need for multiple partnerships, which are often called an “ecosystem,” during the 2017 TU-Automotive Detroit conference. These ecosystems build upon alliances that have been established in recent years

Public sector must step up

Consumers who spend much of their time connected to the Web are pressing automakers to provide far-ranging amenities. Today’s technology lets service providers offer a broad range of offerings, making it difficult to determine what users might want and how they can earn revenue. For example, insurance companies that use connectivity to track mileage must decide what else they want to do.

The challenge facing automotive suppliers extends to the public sector. More urban planners are exploring ways to use connectivity to reduce congestion by using vehicle data to adjust stoplights and help drivers quickly find parking, among many other tasks. However, creating the digital infrastructure needed to support various services won’t be cheap, so private companies may be asked to help pay for equipment.

“Public-private partnerships are very important for increasing cities’ role in providing some of the infrastructure,” said Jens Weitzel, Vice President, Business Development Manager at Free2Move. “The whole of mobility’s future will be a mesh of public-private partnerships. Collaboration will become much more important.”

This infrastructure will probably include V2V and V2I (vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure) communications. That is expected to reduce accidents, which cost communities and drivers millions of dollars and copious time. When vehicles communicate in this fashion, security is paramount. Green Hills Softwareis addressing this security by partnering with Autotalks and Commsignia to address the huge volume of certificates that will be needed to limit communication to authorized transponders.

Satellite-based OTA

Many conference speakers noted that innovative offerings will often come from startups, which can pose challenges for large companies that aren’t used to finding and working with tiny companies. OEMs and Tier 1s will have to devise strategies that let them work with many different partners without spending getting bogged down.

“You need to be able to connect with a number of different suppliers without using up a lot of your bandwidth,” Ericsson’s Herlitz said. “You need to pre-define business models and revenue-sharing models. When you define business models, you’re taking a risk.”

While cellular communications will play a central role in connected services, these links may not be the most effective technology for OEMs to transmit over the air (OTA) updates, monitor vehicles’ diagnostic and other tasks. Satellite provider Inmarsat has partnered with Continental to offer OEMs a global network.

Handling all this data brings management services and big data analysis into the fray. Rush-hour traffic may tax the data handling capabilities of infrastructure equipment that’s sending infotainment files to vehicles while collecting traffic and safety information. The amount of data created by vehicles will soar even higher when autonomy becomes real. That will impact processing requirements on vehicles and off.

Driving simulator

Williams Formula One experience is helping to close the gap between objective and subjective vehicle simulator testing, often a contentious area for vehicle development engineers.

Automotive test systems’ supplier AB Dynamics is using Williams’ platform and proven motion control techniques for its next generation vehicle driving simulator. It has been designed with the aim of allowing far more vehicle development in advance of a prototype than previously possible.

The new aVDS (advanced Vehicle Driving Simulator) features reduced latency and increased frequency response to deliver what the company describes as “a high resolution, fully representative driving experience.”

Using the Williams platform, which has direct-drive linear actuators, the aVDS can provide up to 60 Hz response and capability in six axes. It is complemented by a vision system with mono or stereo projection. Such level of simulation is essential beyond just vehicle dynamics, explained Dr. Adrian Simms, AB Dynamics’ Business Manager for Laboratory Test Systems.

“The aVDS can be used for the development of features such as ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems), autonomous emergency braking, autonomous vehicle systems, and the integration of electric and hybrid systems.”

Both the cost and duration of new product engineering programs have tended to increase in line with greater vehicle complexity and as more derivatives are required from global platforms. At the same time, consumer pressure is dictating shorter lead times between model facelifts.

OEMs have responded by replacing hard prototypes with virtual ones where possible, enabling faster progress at lower cost. But more was needed, said Simms. “The ultimate example of human interaction with a virtual vehicle is the driving simulator but, until now, the range of effective applications has been constrained by the physics of the motion platform,” he explained.

This restriction has generally limited simulator use to the human-machine interface (HMI) and ergonomic studies. With the aVDS, the aim is to fully meet the demanding requirements of driver-in-the-loop (DIL) vehicle dynamic simulation, based on techniques developed in Williams’ Formula One operations.

Simulators often fail to provide the driver with a high enough level of feedback and familiarity, resulting in driver behavior that may vary from on-road performance, explained Simms. He sees a wider potential role for the system in bridging the gap between objective and subjective testing—to provide a link between computer-based simulation, laboratory-based simulation, and whole-vehicle testing both in the laboratory and on the test track.

Simms regards the aVDS as not only as a stand-alone product, but also as the central tool in a suite of test and development systems that can increase correlation, reduce timescales and simplify development programs.

Unique motion platform

The Williams motion platform used by the AB Dynamics system mounts a vehicle cockpit on four identical “wedge” actuator modules mounted on two parallel rails. Quiet and lightweight linear motors control both the height of the platform on the wedge and the position of the wedge on the rail. With its angled sides, the platform can be moved backwards and forwards by changing the distance between the wedges on each rail. The comprehensive platform has a 500-kg (1102-lb) payload capacity.

Said Simms: “The range of surge [fore and aft] movement is +900/-320 mm (+35.4/-12.6 in) with a frequency response of 10Hz; lateral movement [sway] is +/- 1350 mm (+/-53.1 in) with a 35-Hz frequency response. The platform is turned by moving the front and rear actuator pairs in opposite directions along the rails.

Heave, pitch and roll are controlled by moving the wedges independently to lift or lower the platform at each corner. The range of movement available is: +/- 111 mm (4.4 in) at 35 Hz in heave; +/- 30° in yaw, +/-12° in pitch, both at up to 30Hz. The range of movement in roll is +/-8.6° at up to 60 Hz.

The arrangement of the motion platform, which Simms describes as being “unique,” means that consistently high frequency response is achieved throughout the full range of travel. Motion in one direction does not constrain motion in the others, ensuring accurate simulation of vehicle attributes, including ride quality and steering feel anywhere within the envelope of motion.

Other simulator architectures, such as the hexapod arrangement, impressive travel in one axis can hide limited excursion capability in combined directions, Simms noted. AB Dynamics has also kept the inertia of the platform to a minimum by mounting the graphics system remotely; a floor-standing 4-m (14.1-ft) radius screen, 3 m (9.8 ft) high, surrounds the installation.

Density batteries for EVs

The company claims world leadership in ZEV technology following the 2010 introduction of the Leaf EV, the first modern-era battery-electric passenger car. The second generation Leaf will make its premiere in September.

As previously reported in Automotive Engineeering(http://articles.sae.org/14604/), Nissan Europe  is leading a U.K. consortium to research and develop future generation batteries via the High Energy Density Battery (HEDB) project. Its aim is to deliver multifunctional battery systems for EVs and HEVs. Nissan manufactures EV battery packs at its Sunderland, U.K. plant.

The consortium will embrace pilot projects, product diversification and process improvement. A key member is Hyperdrive Innovation, whose founder and Commercial Managing Director, Stephen Irish, spoke recently with AE. He noted that while substantial improvements in cell chemistry have been made in recent years, “there is no magic solution regarding enhancing energy density.” However, he sees potential for pack-level improvements through the consortium as well as the Battery Management Systems (BMS) developed by Hyperdrive to ensure cell longevity and efficiency while accommodating “opportunity charging.”

Vital to battery development work is understanding the duty cycles of specific vehicle types as well as cost, said Irish: “We ask ourselves where best value will be achieved—how, and how frequently, a vehicle or machine is to be used, how it’s charged, where the energy comes from.” Making that energy go further concerns vehicle weight and power electronics and how they work.

While Hyperdrive’s focus is BMS development, novel chemistry solutions need to be considered, too. The company has recently worked with lithium sulfur which, in theory, can deliver specific energy density that is five times that of lithium-ion. However, Li-S is still in development “and in the real world it could be less,” Irish said.

“We are not chemists but we do need to know about these developments to spot trends and to be able to develop our technologies and absorb them into our products,” he explained. “For us, just as for an OEM, there has to be a clear route to market.”

Battery size matters

Sometimes, that market is complicated by what Irish terms “extreme outliers”—users who care less about a battery’s life and just want to max up-time and extract as much energy as possible from it and also charge it as quickly as possible. The other extreme concerns users who require optimal longevity for the battery and its associated electronic systems, to achieve best possible value over time.

“Personally, I would argue for the smallest battery possible for a daily commuting vehicle, saving weight and cost. Most people do not drive as far in a week or month as they think they do,” Irish said. “However, it is still the market barrier of increased range that end-users want. It has to be overcome.”

Typical EV battery life expectancy is 5000 to 6000 cycles at consistent 80% discharge rates, Irish noted. Taking it to 100% discharge cuts its life by two-thirds, he said, adding that secondary re-use applications will help harvest maximum value from the cells.

Getting battery and BMS costs down is a constant battle. Achieving economies of scale is significant; supporting this is designing for commonality. “If we do bespoke systems we have to pass on non-recurring engineering (NRE) costs, which can be substantial in terms of tooling and validation testing,” Irish explained. A more standard suite of products, as Hyperdrive has created, allows on-costs to be reduced while enabling faster time-to-market.

Hyperdrive also has designed a modular universal battery suitable for commercial vehicles and some off-highway applications. Together with Douglas Equipment, part of Textron, the company has developed a push-back mild hybrid tractor.

Virtual automotive engineerin

That’s one reason Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality technologies—often shorthanded to VR and AR—are emerging as immensely useful development tools.

“Using these technologies helps in the decision-making process,” explained Joe Guzman, Engineering Group Manager for Global Virtual Design for General Motors. “You are able to quickly mock up digitally and in 3D what the physical product will look like two years later,” he said.

Creating a VR prototype takes hours or maybe days—compared to weeks or months for a physical prototype, Guzman said.

But why the extra expense of VR or AR technologies when two-dimensional screen renderings of the CAD data are easily accessible? Although CAD renderings are good, they are lacking when it comes to human interactions: the ability to walk around, sit in, or understand how to access a part. Virtual reality and AR provide a sense of how a product will interact with humans who use and build it, how it will live in a three-dimensional world.

“It is especially useful for executives and program management, people who are responsible for the whole vehicle or the line of vehicles, but make no mistake, this technology is useful for every part of the business,” stated Guzman. This includes trainers for the assembly plant, D&R engineers trying to understand assembly and serviceability, or marketers creating brochures. Physical effects include how well flush-and-gaps show up against lighter or darker paints. “People use this from well before program kickoff all the way through to Job 1 and sometimes longer,” he said.

Guzman related that GM finds the company’s four-sided, six-foot CAVE environment (see photo) particularly useful, where any number of individuals can move and observe a 3-D projection of a entire vehicle. He was also quick to point out that the company takes advantage of all levels of available VR, including the less-expensive mixed-reality headsets aimed at individual users.

“We are looking for strategic partners to help us,” he said, noting that a technology developed for the home market might have limitations in durability or safety in a work setting, hence the need for further development.

Collaboration and systems engineering

What currently fuels excitement in this area is the growing pace of development, especially for head-mounted systems. “I have been working in this technology for a long time and improvements were steady but small until about five years ago,” remarked Elizabeth Baron, Virtual Reality and Advanced Visualization Technical Specialist for Ford. “The big leap has been in headsets from companies like Oculus with its Rift and HTC with its Vive. Developed for gamers, those two headsets started this next revolution.”

While acknowledging the usefulness of 3-D VR and AR to any single individual, the contribution to systems engineering and collaboration are what make the technologies special for her. “It allows multiple disciplines in the company to communicate effectively,” she stated. An expert working on ergonomics and visibility can effectively talk to body structure engineers worrying about crash and safety as well as, say, an electrical engineer concerned with wiring-harness placement and clearance.

But increasing reliance on VR and AR for systems engineering requires careful selection of the CAD data to use, according to Baron. “By taking as much information from all of the engineering areas as we can, aimed at systems engineering, we get this immersive environment that crosses all of those disciplines,” she explained. Collaboration reaches across continents as well as disciplines: a Ford employee in Australia can interact through the VR room in real time with a colleague in Dearborn, MI.

The data also can include manufacturing processes and tolerances; users can see in 3-D the visual effect of GD&T tolerances from part-to-part at their extremes, or twist deformations from assembly. In the mathematical world of tolerance stack-up calculations, it is difficult to understand those effects as a customer would see them.

“The user experience is the centerpiece of our VR technology,” Baron stated. “We believe that Ford is leading in the use of real-time ray tracing (a computationally-intensive technique that creates scenes with realistic reflections and other specular effects) for immersive VR reviews.”

The motorcycle’s future

In this office, a team of Honda R&D Co. engineers and computer scientists are developing autonomous machines and robotics. Officially called the Honda Innovation Laboratory, the independent think-tank is more commonly referred to as “Center X.” It is an open laboratory collaborating with outside research and academic institutions, as well as with venture enterprises and individuals and is linked with Honda Xcelerator open-innovation programs based out of the company’s Silicon Valley Lab.

Honda has been researching automated driving and related technologies for more than 30 years, noted R&D President Yoshinobu Matsumoto. He cited development of “Gyro-cater,” the world’s first in-vehicle navigation system offered for the Accord in 1981. Knowledge from that program eventually led to Honda’s extensive bipedal (two-legged) locomotion studies—which in turn led to ASIMO, the now-famous and beloved robot that has become an icon of Honda’s controls and artificial-intelligence expertise.

Technology developed at Center X for ASIMO and for the racetrack now is helping Honda develop two-wheelers that can stand up by themselves, Matsumoto told Automotive Engineering. The small gyro sensor originally used in ASIMO inspired development of sensors that recognize the attitude (lean angle) of a racing motorcycle, helping to govern engine power under extreme G forces while the machine is leaned hard in a corner. The technology was incorporated in Honda’s factory RC-V series MotoGP bike in 2011, he explained.

Engineers’ analysis of the rider’s thoughts and movements, rather than the behavior of the bike, led to the new electronic attitude controls that make the rider’s work easier. On the opposite end of the performance spectrum, Honda’s Uni-Cub self-balancing, two-axis personal mobility device first demonstrated in 2013 enables the seated rider to control speed, move in any direction and stop, all by simply shifting body weight.

The next step is software that can control the Uni-Cub via an “app” from mobile devices—expanding the machine’s value and functionality. Uni-Cub creator Shinichiro Kobashi has indicated the compact little two-wheeled unit may be released in time for demonstration at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Toward the autonomous motorcycle

An obvious technology pathway from the MotoGP and Uni-Cub learnings is toward the autonomous motorbike and the ‘personal transporter’ capable of being summoned from their parking areas and sent back after the day’s riding/mobility duties are finished. More sensors and control technologies like those being integrated into passenger vehicles (cameras, radar and obstacle detection, lane keeping, etc.) are required, of course. And challenges related to packaging such hardware within the limited space on two-wheelers are significant.

Earlier this year, at CES 2017, Honda showed its latest step in the autonomous-bike journey: Riding Assist (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VH60-R8MOKo). The excitement it created among CES show-goers always began with, “Did you see the motorcycle that can balance itself? That’s cool!” and “Honda has a robo-bike!”

And the machine, based on a production NC750S [a sporty 750cc twin-cylinder commuter bike sold in Europe] does just that.

Riding Assist is particularly effective and useful in such taxing situations as stop-and-crawl traffic or the common parking-lot fall when the rider, perhaps fatigued or distracted, is caught off-balance and lets the bike fall onto the ground. The Riding Assist prototype stands upright when stopped and at speeds less than 3 to 4 km/h (about 1.9 to 2.4 mph) with no manual input from the rider. If the rider dismounts the motorcycle, it remains standing as long as the balancing system is engaged.

The Riding Assist program’s chief engineer, Hiroyuki Nakata, is a veteran engineer-development-rider (with specialist background in braking) at the Honda Motorcycle R&D Center at Asaka. Nakata also is responsible for advanced-safety technologies. He acknowledges that it has for several years been an ongoing project at Honda to enhance motorcycle safety by combining robotics research with the company’s championship-winning motorcycle technology. He reasons that the formidable combination could realize “dream technologies for new mobility.”

General Motors cyber-boss cautiously

 If your unit is doing particularly effective work, conventional corporate culture almost demands you “promote” that success.

It’s a little different with cybersecurity. Brag too much and you’ve potentially painted a target on your company’s back. And the back of General Motors, the world’s third-largest auto company, already is exceptionally broad.

Jeff Massimilla, who has been chief product cybersecurity officer at GM since the company initiated his unit in 2014, conceded in a recent interview with Automotive Engineering that although “you never want to go out there and say you have this all figured out,” he is convinced that GM—and the broad industry—has learned enough through an intensive few years of research and a variety of collaborations to feel as confident as is reasonable when your world is an ever-changing threat environment.

And here’s one you don’t hear much from big-company managers in the post-Recession era: “We’re very well-resourced and well-funded,” he added. “We have the right people and personalities on the board of directors to understand the importance of this.” The company’s investment in cybersecurity is deep and serious he said, because “you can’t separate cyber and safety.”

Massimilla said he has regular access to and interactions with GM’s board of directors regarding cybersecurity. He is the leader of the global group of about 90 in GM charged with of every aspect of cybersecurity related to the company’s vehicles. The role is an expansive one as GM, like many automakers and suppliers, is embarking on a multitude of new mobility business models—most of which invariably involve a communication conduit to the internet, cellular networks and satellite data streams.

An electrical engineer who started with GM in 2001 and served in a variety of posts that included global validation, Massimilla said there’s even another aspect his organization must consider: an increasingly aware and concerned customer. “Cyber is something customers are making purchasing decisions on,” he said, adding that the customer’s notion of a particular company’s cybersecurity proficiency is likely to become like many other competitive metrics when it comes to winning a spot on a buyer’s consideration list.

Massimilla’s group, like many others in the industry, doesn’t rely solely on its own expertise. The cybersecurity landscape is vastly too multifaceted to believe that any band of individuals, regardless of their spectrum of expertise and experience, can cover all the bases. So GM’s product cybersecurity group works with outside researchers, the military and yes, so-called “white hat” hackers, in an effort to stay up to speed with the latest developments in the often shadowy alleys that blend cyber and corporate espionage.

A formidable asset in this vein is AUTO-ISAC (Automotive Information Sharing and Analysis Center), formed in 2015 to assemble industry-related companies and entities in a collaborative, non-competitive effort to develop and share cybersecurity best practices. AUTO-ISAC currently has about 30 global OEMs and suppliers working to parry the black-hat element that continually probes, said Massimilla, for individual or structural weaknesses that may lead to serious or large-scale exploitation. Massimilla said awareness of the potential to disrupt automotive security probably came to a head in 2015 in the widely-publicized remote hacking of a Jeep Grand Cherokee’s major and minor controls.

The industry also collaborates in the traditional sense by forming new standards once a certain cybersecurity need is fully understood and agreed upon, he added. Standards, he said, remain the vital framework in which to deploy collective findings.

“And we have our own (internal) ‘Red Team’ to test and hack our system,” he said.

Non-traditional talent and short of it

It takes engineers and other trained and experience personnel to research, collaborate resources, share learning, develop standards. Depending on your perspective, an organization of 90 may seem like a lot or a little to be devoted to cybersecurity, but Massimilla said one the auto sector’s chief problems is finding those qualified people. Not only are traditional engineering and technical schools only now starting to develop cybersecurity-related curricula and students, “Some of the best cyber experts are not the people who go through college and get a four-year degree,” he almost wryly reminds of the computer-expert stereotype that to a meaningful extent is based on reality.

“There’s a lot of activity to create more talent,” he said. Major universities are beginning to “work (cybersecurity) into engineering programs,” but accreditation of those tracks takes time, he lamented—and meanwhile, countless other industries are under the same pressure to find immediate solutions to for cybersecurity’s maddeningly indeterminate threats.

For now, Massimilla said, he sees the “multi-layering” approach to automotive cybersecurity as the most effective structure available. “I think it’s a standard cross-industry approach—but how you deploy it across the connected ecosystem,” is where differences are injected, he contends.