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Uber wins $1bn investment from Toyota, SoftBank fund

Uber wins $1bn investment from Toyota, SoftBank fund

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Uber wants

Uber wants to be at the forefront of the driverless car revolution

Japanese car giant Toyota and investment fund SoftBank Vision Fund on Friday unveiled an investment of $1 billion in US company Uber to drive forward the development of driverless ridesharing services.

The latest cash injection, expected to close in the third quarter this year, came amid fevered anticipation of Uber’s public share offering which is expected to be the largest in the tech sector for years.

Toyota has already invested $500 million in Uber as the firm races Google-owned Waymo and a host of other companies, including major automakers, to develop self-driving vehicles.

The latest investment, which also involves Japanese parts maker DENSO, will go to Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group in a bid to “accelerate the development and commercialisation of automated ridesharing,” the firms said in a statement.

Toyota and DENSO are stumping up $667 million and SoftBank Vision Fund, the investment arm of Japanese tycoon Masayoshi Son’s SoftBank, will pour $333 million into the venture. It is already the top shareholder in Uber, holding 16 percent.

The Japanese car firm said it would also contribute “an additional $300 million over the next three years to help cover the costs related to these activities.”

Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi said driverless cars would “transform transportation as we know it, making our streets safer and our cities more liveable.”

His firm is aiming to go beyond car rides to becoming the “Amazon of transportation” in a future where people share, instead of own, vehicles.

If all goes to plan, commuters could ride an e-scooter to a transit station, take a train, then grab an e-bike, share a ride or take an e-scooter at the arriving station to complete a journey—all using an Uber app on a smartphone.

Uber is also seeing growing success with an “Eats” service that lets drivers make money delivering meals ordered from restaurants.

‘Sharing economy’

Last week, Uber filed official documents for its much-anticipated public share offering.

The filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission said it operates on six continents with some 14 million trips per day and has totalled more than 10 billion rides since it was founded in 2010.

The filing contained a “placeholder” amount of $1 billion to be raised but that figure is expected to increase ahead of the initial public offering (IPO) expected in May.

The Wall Street Journal said earlier this month that Uber was seeking to raise $10 billion in what would be the largest stock offering of the year.

Media reports said the ride-hailing giant was likely to seek a market value of close to $100 billion.

Uber is the largest of the “unicorns” or venture-backed firms worth at least $1 billion to list on Wall Street, and is one of the key companies in the “sharing economy” based on offering services to replace ownership of cars, homes and other commodities.

Its revenue grew 42 percent last year to $11.2 billion but it continued to lose money from its operations. A net profit was reported for the year from a large asset sale, but operational losses were more than $3 billion.

And some analysts have voiced caution over the forthcoming IPO given a relative lacklustre debut for Lyft, the main US rival.

Khosrowshahi has promised greater transparency as he seeks to restore confidence in the global ridesharing leader hit by a wave of misconduct scandals.

In October, Toyota and SoftBank announced the creation of a joint venture to create “new mobility service” including driverless vehicles for services such as meal deliveries.

The new company—called “Monet”, short for “mobility network”—is majority owned by SoftBank.

SoftBank started as a software firm but has increasingly been pushing into investments under tycoon Son, one of Japan’s richest men.


Source: https://phys.org/news/2019-04-toyota-softbank-fund-denso-invest.html

Author: Richard Carter

Image Credit: Taken from Phys.Org

Ambarella and Momenta unveil HD mapping platform for AVs

Ambarella and Momenta unveil HD mapping platform for AVs

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Ambarella announced a collaborative HD mapping platform for autonomous vehicles. The combined solution leverages Ambarella’s CV22AQ CVflow computer vision system-on-chip (SoC) and Momenta’s deep learning algorithms to provide HD map solutions, including mapping, localization for autonomous vehicles, and map updates through crowdsourcing.

The CV22AQ is manufactured in an advanced 10-nanometer process, providing the ultra-low power consumption required for the design of compact automotive systems. Its CVflow architecture delivers real-time processing of up to 8 megapixel resolution video at 30 frames per second (fps) for high-precision deep learning based object recognition.

The CV22AQ’s high-performance image signal processor (ISP) delivers superior image quality in low-light environments, while high dynamic range (HDR) processing extracts more image detail in high-contrast scenes — further enhancing the system’s computer vision capabilities.

Using CV22AQ, Momenta is able to use a single monocular camera input to generate two separate video outputs, one for vision sensing (perception of lanes, traffic signs, and other objects), and another for feature point extraction for self-localization and mapping (SLAM) and optical flow algorithms.


Source: https://safecarnews.com/ambarella-and-momenta-unveil-hd-mapping-platform-for-avs/

Author: Ambarella Media Dept.

Image Credit: Taken from Safecarnews

ABB and Porsche will jointly develop next generation electric vehicle chargers in Japan

ABB and Porsche will jointly develop next generation electric vehicle chargers in Japan

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ABB Gas Stand

Pioneering technology leader ABB has teamed up with Porsche Japan to develop a dedicated high-power charger for Porsche’s electric vehicles (EVs) in Japan.

ABB has entered into an agreement to deliver its market-leading electric vehicle infrastructure for Porsche Japan’s EVs, including Taycan, the automaker’s first fully electric car, set to enter the Japanese market in 2020.

Under the terms, Porsche Japan will install ABB’s high-power chargers at Porsche Centers and public facilities across the country, creating a network of fast chargers for its electric vehicles. The first installation is set to go live in mid-2020.

The alliance will boost Japan’s push for the wider adoption of e-mobility. ABB and Porsche Japan will join forces to develop the next generation of chargers that support power levels exceeding 150 kW and compatible with the CHAdeMO fast charging standard.

The Japanese government has set an ambitious goal to sell only new electric or hybrid vehicles by 2050. The move comes as the country works to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions that are largely responsible for global warming.

“ABB’s deep expertise in electric vehicle charging, combined with Porsche’s legacy of high-performance is a winning formula to revolutionize sustainable mobility, and will pave the way for Japan to meet its ambitious zero-emissions commitments,” said Frank Muehlon, Head of ABB’s global business for EV charging infrastructure.

The Porsche Taycan is set to enter the Japanese market in 2020. With a maximum output of 600PS (440kW), the sports sedan can go from 0 to 100 km/h in just 3.5 seconds and has a maximum cruising distance of 500km or more (REACH NEDC compliance). Demand for Porsche’s first ever electric car has been overwhelming, with more than 20,000 customers across the world expressing interest as of March 2019. Following its launch, Porsche will go into production in 2020 with its crossover inspired estate version, the EV Cross Turismo.

Porsche Japan president Toshiyuki Shimegi says: “I am very glad to say that we will be able to provide the highest performing quick charging network in the world to our customers thanks to this partnership with ABB. By 2025, half of all new vehicles from Porsche may feature an electric drive – either as part of a hybrid concept or as a purely electric vehicle, so building the quick charging infrastructure is vital to EV owners as a great step forward in the Porsche EV project.”

With over 10 years of expertise in the EV charging market, ABB is the perfect partner to help Japan electrify its transportation system. ABB is a founding member of the CHAdeMO and CCS Charging Standards Association, and the title sponsor of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship race that is reshaping the world of sustainable e-mobility.

ABB has sold more than 10,500 DC high-speed chargers in 73 countries.


Source: https://new.abb.com/news/detail/19232/abb-and-porsche-will-jointly-develop-next-generation-electric-vehicle-chargers-in-japan?fbclid=IwAR0Wliuev_D7PPazKG0jfIJqhUWJNXeGXRghQwvhFQGqCF_sj1W0dJIshKg

Author: ABB Press Release

Image Credit: Taken from ABB Press Release Article

Ford, GM and Toyota Form New AV Safety Group

Ford, GM and Toyota Form New AV Safety Group

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The Automated Vehicle Safety Consortium will focus on advancing safe deployment of SAE Level 4 and Level 5 automated vehicles.

Ford, GM and Toyota announced they are partnering with SAE International to form a new pre-competitive consortium focusing on autonomous vehicle safety.

Called the Automotive Vehicle Safety Consortium, it will work to advance testing and development of SAE Level 4 and 5 automated vehicles.

The group says AVSC will create a safety framework for fully autonomous vehicles that can evolve as production volumes increase. The work will include the development of formal standards for AVs and harmonizing efforts of other consortia and standards bodies throughout the world.

“Being able to advance the safe deployment of SAE Level 4 and Level 5 automated vehicles represents another exciting chapter in the realization of autonomous mobility and the benefits this will bring to people around the world,” says Edward Straub, executive director of AVSC.

The consortium will work with industry and government partners to speed development of standards that can lead to rule making, says Randy Visintainer, chief technology officer of Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC.

SAE International will tap the expertise of its affiliate, SAE Industry Technologies Consortia, to convene the members of the AVSC.


Author: Drew Winter

Source: https://www.wardsauto.com/autonomous-vehicles/ford-gm-and-toyota-form-new-av-safety-group

Image Credit: Taken from Wards Auto

Daihatsu Factory

Daihatsu to recall 1.9 million cars in Japan over brake problem

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Daihatsu Factory

A Daihatsu Motor Co. assembly line

Daihatsu Motor Co. said Thursday it will recall about 1.92 million cars in Japan due to faults that can affect the vehicles’ braking system.

The recall affects 1,916,973 cars across 22 models, including the Move and Tanto minivehicles manufactured between December 2010 and September 2018. It also covers the Stella and Pixis Mega minicars, which were built by Daihatsu and sold by Subaru Corp. and Toyota Motor Corp., respectively.

The minicar maker reported a total of 416 cases involving two types of problems affecting the brake system, according to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. No accidents have been reported due to the problem.

In the cars subject to the recall, Daihatsu said that improper waterproofing of the cowl panel can cause rusting or perforation of the brake booster, resulting in a longer braking distance. It also warned that improper greasing work on a strut set can cause the brakes to malfunction.


Source: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/04/12/business/corporate-business/daihatsu-recall-1-9-million-cars-japan-brake-problem/

Author:  Kyodo

Image Credit: Kyodo

Bridgestone Toyota JAXA Moon Rover

Bridgestone to join Toyota and JAXA in rover mission to moon

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Bridgestone Toyota JAXA Moon Rover

An image of a lunar rover jointly under development by Toyota Motor Corp. and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. 

Bridgestone Corp. said Wednesday it would tie up with Toyota Motor Corp. and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency on a joint mission to send a rover to the moon.

The world’s leading tire maker announced its participation at the Space Symposium in Colorado. JAXA is planning to launch the five-year mission in 2029.

Bridgestone said it will design an elastic wheel that can support the rover’s weight, acceleration and braking, minimize its shock absorbance and improve maneuverability — necessary to navigate the moon’s crater-covered, gravelly surface.

Toyota and JAXA said in March they would use an American rocket to launch the rover, amid growing international competition in lunar exploration.

The rover will be 6 meters in length, 5.2 meters wide and 3.8 meters in height, with a living space of 13 square meters, they said.


Source: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/04/11/business/corporate-business/bridgestone-join-toyota-jaxa-rover-mission-moon/

Author: KYODO

Image Credit: TOYOTA / VIA KYODO

Toyota Material Handling Group forklifts.

Toyota Material Handling Group innovates forklift, factory, service and logistics solutions with digital transformation

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Toyota Material Handling Group forklifts.

Toyota Material Handling Group forklifts.

Toyota Material Handling Group is the largest forklift manufacturer in the world, but its customers require much more than warehouse trucks and equipment. To better serve them, the global business is expanding and enriching its logistics solutions with digital innovation and Toyota’s renowned principles in lean and efficient manufacturing.

By providing solutions with artificial intelligence, mixed reality and the Internet of Things (IoT), Toyota Material Handling Group is helping customers meet the global rise in e-commerce and move goods quickly, frequently, accurately and safely.

With Microsoft technologies, the solutions range from connected forklift and field service systems available today to AI-powered concepts that pave the way for intelligent automation and logistics simulation – all designed with Toyota’s standards for optimizing efficiency, operation assistance and kaizen, or continuous improvement.

headshot of Toshihide Itoh
Toshihide Itoh, associate director and CIO of Toyota Material Handling Group.

“Our direction is going to more systemizing and logistics solutions, services in digital automation, AI analytics and IoT,” says Toshihide Itoh, associate director and CIO of Toyota Material Handling Group, an Aichi, Japan-based division of Toyota Industries Corporation. “We also continue to improve our forklift trucks, because this is our origin. But customers need more and more efficient logistics and we need digital innovation to accelerate and expand our business.”

At the Hannover Messe show in Germany this week, Toyota presented its vision for a future warehouse with lean logistics and pre-trained, intelligent forklifts. Enabled with machine learning and IoT services in Microsoft Azure, the vehicles can quickly learn navigation in a virtual model of a customer’s warehouse, a so-called “digital twin.” Customers can experience the trucks interacting with their physical and virtual environment.

The ability to simulate and visualize a physical environment will help solve one of the biggest challenges in the industry: the long deployment time for customized IoT solutions. Installations can normally take six months to a year, but using machine learning and digital twins can significantly shorten the time.

“For customers, this is a very important benefit,” Itoh says of the project, created by Toyota Material Handling Europe.

Once deployed, the intelligent forklifts and other automated guided vehicles (AGV) can adapt to live conditions, continually improve performance and communicate with other machines in a “swarm” that sends the right trucks to the right tasks at the right time.

Machine learning also plays a big role in a factory innovation project that Toyota Material Handling North America is working on with Microsoft. Engineers with both companies are building AI algorithms with sound to evaluate and verify welding quality, an important part of building forklifts.

Earlier this year, the teams worked with welders in Toyota’s Indiana factory and recorded sound from the factory floor. Then they created a machine learning platform to drive product quality, customer satisfaction and better training opportunities for new employees.

“We use machine learning and AI to do things that people cannot do by themselves, like analyze big data quickly,” Itoh says. “AI analysis can lead to new solutions and give open time for people to utilize their brain. That’s very important. So they share some work with AI and it makes everyone and everything more productive.”

Itoh became CIO of Toyota Material Handling Group in 2017, after leadership roles in the group’s divisions for logistics systems, forklift research and development, and advanced system solutions. The work helped him understand different aspects of the industry, from equipment to logistics to customers.

“The important point of view is the customers’ point of view,” he says. “Information technology is my main responsibility, but it needs to help customers and our business team improve their operations.”

He said Azure’s global scale and services have helped the company deliver valuable solutions, including a fleet management system for customers to centrally monitor their forklift fleet. Powered by Azure IoT Edge and scheduled to deploy this spring, the telematics solution helps customers track forklift utilization, plan and predict maintenance, and improve efficiency and safety in their warehouses. Read More


Source: https://news.microsoft.com/transform/toyota-forklift-factory-logistics-digital-transformation/

Author: Vanessa Ho

Image Credit: Microsoft


Toyota ready to share hybrid secrets with China to advance in world’s largest auto market

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A Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid is seen during a test drive in Tokyo in February 2017.

Toyota Motor Corp. is preparing to divulge details of the hybrid-car engine technology it pioneered with the Prius to China in an attempt to catch up with rivals in the world’s biggest auto market.

Chinese officials asked Toyota to share its gasoline-electric technology to help local companies meet stricter emissions targets, people familiar with the matter said, asking not to be named because the talks are private. Seeing this as a chance to make inroads in China, Toyota has engaged in advanced talks to license its hybrid system to Chinese carmaker Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd., two of the people said.

Government backing for hybrid vehicles would be a boon for Toyota’s ambitions to boost sales in China. Hybrids have been a success for Toyota in Europe and Japan for years, but China has so far placed more focus on so-called pure electric vehicles, promoting them through subsidies and tax breaks.

Gradually, though, China is starting to see hybrids as a means of reducing emissions on the way toward a pure-electric future, part of a plan to reach ambitious environmental goals and reduce the country’s reliance on imported oil. Trade tensions emanating from America are giving added impetus for Toyota and China to work together.

An increase in hybrids’ popularity could help Toyota catch up with sales leaders Volkswagen AG and General Motors Co., which each sold more than 4 million vehicles in China last year. Of the 1.3 million vehicles Toyota sold, about 10 percent were hybrids. The company wants to raise that proportion to more than 30 percent by as early as 2020. Read More

Source: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/09/13/business/corporate-business/toyota-ready-share-hybrid-secrets-china-advance-worlds-largest-auto-market/

Author: Bloomberg

Image Credit: Bloomberg


Automation Anywhere Unveils the Industry’s Smartest IQ Bot, Making AI Accessible to Millions

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Ability to automatically process documents in most any language from anywhere will change the way people work

SAN JOSE, Calif., March 20, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Automation Anywhere®, the global leader in Robotic Process Automation (RPA), today announced major advances to IQ Bot 6.5™, its artificial intelligence (AI) solution that greatly expands the global market for RPA.

Capable of learning from humans, IQ Bot can now auto-detect, read and process a variety of complex, low-resolution documents and emails in 190 languages as well as process document images with the Automation Anywhere Mobile app.

With the global workforce becoming increasingly mobile – with 1.87 billion mobile workers by 2022  -users can now access IQ Bot from a mobile device, process images and have the results emailed to them – all while on the go, so that anybody, anywhere can use it: field workers, home appraisers, insurance adjusters and delivery workers.

Today, an estimated 80 to 90 percent of organizations still manually extract data from documents and emails. The advanced AI capacities of IQ Bot are designed to free up business users around the world from the mundane task of entering data into enterprise applications. Automation of such complex, repetitive tasks liberates people to focus on what humans do best – innovate, collaborate and use their talent to solve business challenges.

“The ability to implement a bot quickly and cost-effectively to automate data capture can dramatically impact a company’s bottom line,” said Harvey Spencer, president of HSA, a leading analyst firm that follows this market. “As organizations eliminate legacy document processing solutions and bots become smarter using AI, the potential market for tasks that can be automated expands significantly. In many ways, RPA companies are at the forefront of this.”

Advances in AI and cloud technologies are rapidly expanding the market for data capture, a $20 billion untapped opportunity, according to a new study by Harvey Spencer Associates (HSA). A separate research study found that automation can cut down the cost of processing documents, such as invoices, insurance claims and loan applications, by as much as 84 percent. Read More


Source:  https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/automation-anywhere-unveils-the-industrys-smartest-iq-bot-making-ai-accessible-to-millions-300815375.html

Author: Automation Anywhere

Image Credit: Logo taken rom Prnewswire, Automation Anywhere Company page.


Foreign workers are on the way, but are Japanese businesses ready?

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Indonesian trainees at a farm in Kagawa Prefecture | KYODO

A new visa program designed to lure more workers to Japan takes effect Monday, and government officials and industry leaders hope two new types will help alleviate the national labor shortage.

But whether businesses are prepared to accept them is an entirely different matter.

Companies and organizations interviewed by The Japan Times said they remain in the dark about many details of the new system and are still unsure whether they have the capacity to provide adequate support for employees who will be starting a whole new life in Japan.

Under the new system, up to around 340,000 blue-collar workers are expected to come to Japan to work in 14 sectors over the next five years.

The nursing care sector is slated to accept as many as 60,000 — more than any other sector.

The industry is crucial for the rapidly graying population and companies are hopeful the new system will help them out, said Go Tsurumura, an official from the secretariat of the Japan Federation of Kaigo Business Providers, an industry group.

And yet Tsurumura’s hopes are tempered by a sense that, with the exception of some businesses with prior experience handling foreign workers, the nursing care industry overall “hasn’t yet developed a basic system for supporting foreign caregivers” on the new visas.

An official at a Tokyo-based nursing-care provider who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity said his firm is looking to accept foreign workers through the new system but has no experience of this kind. So, whether it can provide enough support is a major concern, he said.

“They might feel homesick. In some cases, I hear they disappear,” he said. Read More


Source: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/03/31/national/foreign-workers-way-japanese-businesses-ready/


Image Credit: Kyodo