Leaving Las Vegas

The 2019 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), held at the Las Vegas Convention Center in January, brought innovative road transport concepts – among other brilliant ideas – to a mainstream audience.

The hosts of the event, Consumer Technology Association (CTA), were adamant that keynote speaker and US Secretary of Transportation, Elaine Chao, was leading the Administration’s efforts to realise the promise of transportation technology and innovation (including self-driving vehicles and piloted/remote-control drones) while ensuring public safety.

One of the most prominent road safety innovations presented at the show was the announcement of the Valeo XtraVue trailer – a system that offers driving assistance for trailer and caravan users. It uses video images captured from cameras located at the rear of both the vehicle and trailer/caravan, combining them into a single homogeneous image that renders the trailer invisible, enabling the vehicle operator to see behind what would normally be obstructed.

Gilles Elmoznino, Valeo Media Relations, confirmed that the manufacturer has produced 10 million ADAS sensors between 1991 to 2015 and plan to produce another 10 billion between 2015 and 2023.
“Sensor technology has changed over the years to be more precise, jumping in quality from a quarter VGA to 20 megapixels,” he says. “The Valeo sensor portfolio is the widest in the automotive industry to cover these specific applications while ensuring the necessary safety requirements. Valeo is the only company to use Scanner LIDAR in serial production.”

The Valeo XtraVue Trailer is still in development with a contract with a major OEM, according to Elmoznino. He adds that the technology is not region specific in regards to market launch.
Elmoznino says the XtraVue Trailer systems works with two cameras. “The standard rear camera from the vehicle and an additional one mounted on the trailer. The system also uses an image stitching controller and the standard centre stack screen, too.”

The process for installing this system seems quite straightforward, with self-calibration capabilities after a few manoeuvres. Valeo stresses that this technology puts safety and convenience first, ensuring greater productivity for fleets as well.

Since presenting this innovation at CES, Valeo has received a lot of positive feedback as well as interesting connections with start-up enterprises.

Following safety innovations, there were also demonstrations of what the last mile might look like in the near distant future. Technology company, Continental, is steadily pushing the boundaries of autonomous vehicle technology, exploring new use cases and advances every day. At CES 2019, Continental demonstrated how a driverless vehicle could be used to stage and deploy delivery robots, taking packages all the way to the consumer.

The seamless integration of a driverless vehicle – in this case, the Continental Urban Mobility Experience (CUbE) – and a delivery robot present a more effective and efficient distribution of goods. The CUbE, Continental’s autonomous electrified development platform, is generally considered as a solution for urban ‘first or last mile’ mobility. This type of vehicle – often referred to as a robo-taxi or pod – will be a part of the seamless mobility value chain. The purpose of these vehicles will be extended to goods delivery to further utilise the available transport capacity and minimise downtime.

Market estimations show that the need to transport goods will even outpace the strongly growing need for people transport in densely populated areas. With expertise in scalable technologies and solutions like sensors, environment perception and modelling, localisation, positioning, situation analysis, decision making and mechatronic actuators, Continental supposedly has the solutions and know-how to address this need.

“With the help of robot delivery, Continental’s vision for seamless mobility can extend right to your doorstep,” according to Continental Head of Systems & Technology – Chassis & Safety Division, Ralph Lauxmann.

“Our vision of cascaded robot delivery leverages a driverless vehicle to carry delivery robots, creating an efficient transport team. “Both are electrified, both are autonomous and, in principle, both can be based on the same scalable technology portfolio. These synergies create an exciting potential for holistic delivery concepts using similar solutions for different platforms. Beyond this technology foundation, it’s reasonable to expect a whole value chain to develop in this area.”

Driverless vehicles, in this context, offer a smart solution the meet the challenges of urban mobility. Goods and parcel delivery to residential areas, for instance, is a growing and dynamic market, driven by e-commerce sales that are increasing every year. With the growth of this segment, delivery cost per hour is gaining importance. This positions last mile and delivery services as a differentiator. Automated goods delivery is forecasted to provide an answer for up to 80 percent of all business-to-consumer deliveries, according to Continental.

The technology company views automated goods delivery as an integral part of future urban mobility as an addition to conventional goods delivery. The CUbE can carry one or multiple delivery robots and deploy them to handle the last yards of the goods and parcel delivery logistics chain.

“Industrialising the automation of goods delivery requires reliable, robust, high-performing and best-cost technology – a mix perfectly reflected in the automotive equivalent of automation,” Lauxmann says. “It is this very profile of expertise that has made Continental one of the industry-leading suppliers of advanced driver assistance systems and vehicle automation.”

With existing delivery robots serving as a development platform, Continental claims to be ready to transfer and scale automotive technology to meet robot manufacturers’ requirements.

Continental North America Director of Systems & Technology, Jeremy McClain, believes that the challenges to a delivery robot parallel what we already see in automated vehicles.

“Delivery robots will require technology that is just as advanced and robust as our automotive solutions,” he says. “With the ever-increasing popularity of online shopping and the growth of megacities, unique solutions for package delivery will be needed. Driverless vehicles combined with delivery robots could be the perfect answer.”

Continental posits that driverless vehicles will represent a vital element in the Smart Cities of the future. They are considered by many experts as a key element of future mobility concepts to solve the challenges of the urbanisation. A driverless vehicle can be in use almost 24/7. Innovative city planners see driverless vehicles as a valuable addition to public mass transport by eliminating the need for a privately-owned car to get to the nearest point of access to other means of transport.

“There will be peaks in demand for driverless vehicles during the day,” McClain says. “To make use of driverless vehicles outside those peak ‘rush’ hours is where robot-delivery comes in. We see great potential in our automotive technology to support robotics companies in developing autonomous delivery robots as an additional use case for driverless vehicles.”

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