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BMW pushes the limits of the IoT

BMW is taking an “adapt or die” approach to the forces threatening to reshape the automotive industry.

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These days, if you’re an established automaker, there are a lot of forces threatening to reshape your industry in ways that could undermine your ability to compete. From the rush to electrify, to the importance of in-cabin tech, to the slow but steady arrival of autonomous vehicles, it’s a highly dynamic time in the auto industry. BMW, the European luxury powerhouse that can trace its roots back to 1916, sits directly in the crosshairs of these disruptive forces.

Taking an “adapt or die” approach, the carmaker has had to investigate new technologies across its entire business. Many of these efforts have involved the IoT, starting with its rethinking of the manufacturing process. According to Stephen Ezell, VP with the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, “BMW has set a goal of knowing the real-time status of all major production equipment at each company that produces key components for each of its vehicles.” To accomplish this, the company’s parts vendors have installed IoT sensors at their facilities, and allowed BMW to access this real-time data, which it uses to augment its own production data. Now, a delay at a provider can be addressed as soon as it becomes known, not days or weeks later.

Related: Stepping into Digital with IOT – 14 Cases

The IoT road isn’t always a smooth one however. As carmakers increasingly connect their vehicles to the internet, cars face the same risk of malicious, unauthorized access as PCs, routers, or other connected devices.

Earlier this year, a team at Keen Security Lab, discovered 14 different vulnerabilities in BMW’s connected cars, stemming from its use of QNX, an embedded OS with an otherwise excellent track record for security. In a similar security vein, car manufacturers like BMW must now wrestle with how ownership of, and access to, a car’s data should safely change hands when a car is re-sold.

[Download] Stepping into Digital with IOT – 14 Cases

These speed bumps notwithstanding, there’s still gold in the IoT hills for BMW. Its recent acquisition of Parkmobile could produce a massively valuable data source, as it tracks the parking and commuting habits of thousands of drivers. As BMW evaluates the future of car ownership — especially the subscription models that are gaining favour — such an IoT investment could prove critical to a successful evolution.

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GM’s electric vehicle strategy leads to fast-paced battery innovation — and 3,000 new tech jobs

Engineering, design, and IT hires will “help transform the future of product development and software as a service,” says the automaker.

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General Motors has recently announced that by mid-decade, it will offer 30 all-electric models globally (at a variety of price points) investing $27 billion in EVs and autonomous vehicles through 2025 — increased from the planned, pre-pandemic amount of $20 billion.

In conjunction with this statement comes the pledge to hire 3,000 new employees across engineering, design, and IT to help shape product development and SaaS goals. 

According to the automaker’s press release, the company will offer more remote work opportunities than ever before, citing the fast-pace of autonomous and electric vehicles, and advanced platforms like the Ultium battery system. This system is unique to the industry because its large-format, pouch-style cells can be stacked vertically or horizontally inside the battery pack.

As ZDNet reports, this EV-heavy strategy of GM is “closely linked to its digital transformation…GM is looking to deliver profits via ongoing customer relationships and digital experiences.”

 

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GM CEO Mary Barra explains to the publication that the customer experience is at the heart of these decisions. “To drive and guide our profitability moving forward, our growth strategy is a 360-degree view of the business designed around delivering world-class customer interactions,” she says.

“This strategy is the compass for every business choice we make as we move forward.”

Battery innovation

According to ZDNet, GM plans to lower battery prices over time, make EVs more affordable, and “keep customer relationships through the purchase and ownership experience.” 

It was just eight months ago when the Ultium batteries were revealed, but GM is already projecting second-gen packs for mid-decade, which they say will cost 60% less with twice the energy density.

“Ultium is already changing the way customers – and investors – view our company,” explained Barra. “We are resolved as a management team to move even faster to expedite the transition to EVs. The all-electric future we are building integrates all the things we do better than anybody else – so we can put everyone in an EV, generate profitable growth and create shareholder value.”

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Trucking industry looking to mobile technology for fleet optimization

Fleet managers can utilize mobile tech to “build intelligent, efficient, and scalable fleets,” reports Frost & Sullivan.

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With trucking undergoing an industry-wide digital transformation, fleet managers can deploy mobile tech to “build intelligent, efficient, and scalable fleets,” reports Frost & Sullivan.

Driver safety, efficiency, better profits, and government compliance can all be better managed thanks to faster cell data networks, an increasing number of GPS applications, and a better range of smartphones and tablets, the report found.

New Table Stakes in Trucking: Optimizing Fleets with Mobile Technology includes analysis from industry thought leaders, and dives deep into the challenges and solutions they’re facing and utilizing, and what they’re learning along the way.

When it comes to optimizing their fleets, managers looking to deploy mobile technology are often left in the dark, because there’s little internal expertise — both of the tech itself and how best to plan, execute, and manage, explains Jeanine Sterling, Industry Director of Information and Communication and Technology at Frost & Sullivan. 

The solution? Partnering with an external mobile technology organization.

“Outside partners can provide that expertise and are becoming increasingly crucial to successful implementations,” she says. 

“When evaluating potential mobility partners, thought leaders recommend looking for industry-specific knowledge, technology roadmap support, device lifecycle management capabilities, and a commitment to ongoing R&D.”

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Autonomous Vehicles in 2020? “Less hype, more progress” finds KPMG

Third edition of the Autonomous Vehicles Readiness Index finds Singapore is best prepared for AVs.

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Which countries and jurisdictions are most ready for autonomous vehicles? What does AV readiness look like? 

KPMG’s Autonomous Vehicles Readiness Index — now in its third year — asks this question, evaluating how 30 regions are adopting driverless technology and preparing for the “ubiquity” of AVs. The index measures countries and jurisdictions across 28 indicators to determine their readiness and progress. Framing these indicators are four pillars: policy and legislation, technology and innovation, infrastructure, and consumer acceptance.

Making up the top 5 regions best positioned to advance AV are:

  1. Singapore
    • Expanded AV testing, covering all roads in Western Singapore.
    • Incentives to purchase EVs, plus an increase in charging points.
    • Leads the index in consumer acceptance, and policy and legislation pillars.
  2. The Netherlands
    • Most EV charging stations per capita. 
    • Extensive AV testing, with 81% of people living near a testing site.
    • Increased its use of smart road furniture (eg. traffic lights).
  3. Norway
    • Increased use of AVs, as several bus routes in Oslo are now driverless.
    • The majority of passenger vehicles bought in Norway in 2019 were battery or plug-in hybrids.
    • Testing of AVs in extreme weather.
  4. United States
    • Second only to Israel on technology and innovation. (420 AV company headquarters)
    • American companies are leading the AV development pack. (eg. Apple, Google, GM, and Ford)
    • Detroit and Pittsburgh are included in the index’s ‘Cities to Watch’ section, for their work in introducing and promoting AVs.
  5. Finland
    • Highest ratings for AV-specific regulations.
    • The country’s entire road network is open for AV trials.
    • Helsinki (a ‘City to Watch’) and Espoo both operate public AV bus services. 
    • Thanks to the legacy of Nokia, the country is home to top digital talent — specifically engineers.

Alongside Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Helsinki asCities to Watchare Beijing (investing $50M to develop a 100 square km AV testing zone ahead of the 2022 Olympics) and Seoul (working with Hyundai on widespread AV testing).

Additional insights include:

  • Five countries were added to the index for 2020: Belgium, Chile, Denmark, Italy, and Taiwan.
  • 17 of the 25 jurisdictions profiled in the 2019 AVRI increased their scores in 2020.
  • Piloting and testing are expanding. Approximately two-thirds of the indexed regions have areas designated or approved for testing.

“We’ve just begun to see the transformational potential of AV technology,” explains Richard Threlfall, Global Head of Infrastructure for KPMG International. “Immense progress has been made on AVs operating more safely and effectively.”

Threlfall goes on to explain how COVID-19 and the resulting new ways of moving people and products, could expand the importance of AV. Crowded public transit, he suggests, “could be partially relieved by on-demand, autonomous minibusses to promote social distancing, while AVs for shipping can meet the demand for contactless delivery.”

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