If you want to build the iPhone for the auto industry, you should learn from Apple and Tesla. Developing your own processors has several advantages

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German car manufacturers need to develop their own chip competence

If you want to build the iPhone for the auto industry, you should learn from Apple and Tesla. Developing your own processors has several advantages.

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Apple

After the iPhone, iPad and other Apple devices, Macs will now also use “Apple Silicon”.

(Photo: AFP)

“The car is turning into a smartphone on four wheels” is one of those sentences that you can swipe off your bingo card at car congresses. The connected car, which is constantly being improved with software updates, is a vision that virtually anyone in the industry can agree on.

Building the iPhone for the automotive industry must at least be the goal of Daimler , Audi and BMW . After all, Apple is not only the gold standard among smartphones, but also absorbs most of the profits.

Therefore, the upper-class automakers should also be interested in the fact that Apple has almost completed its transformation to chip self-sufficiency. After the iPhone, iPad and other Apple devices, Macs will now also use “Apple Silicon”. Intel is being outsourced from the supply chain step by step.

This has two advantages for Apple: Because Intel has fallen behind in the development of new chip generations, Cupertino will soon no longer have to rely on a troubled supplier, but will control its own fate. On the other hand, Apple can use its own chips to adapt its software operating system to its hardware.


Tesla has been developing its own chips for its “Autopilot” driver assistance system since 2019. Elon Musk even believes that thanks to the computing power of his FSD chips he can make his Teslas autonomous and dispense with some sensors on the car. The newcomer Fisker wants to outsource his entire car production to Magna, but sees chip development as his own task.

The German automakers, on the other hand, are proud of their collaborations with Infineon , Nvidia and the Intel subsidiary Mobileye. That may be the way to go because with electrification and autonomy they already have huge tasks ahead of them.


But a fragmented supplier landscape has so far also been one reason why carmakers have found it difficult to react to Tesla's approach to vertical integration. The electronics architecture with its own control units for each function of the car makes it difficult to provide the customer with an experience from a single source. "You deliver your organizational chart," said the programmer Melvin Conway. Conway's law of the auto industry could be: You can tell your product has a supply chain.

Car manufacturers must be aware of the danger that lies in simply replacing old suppliers with new ones instead of building up their own chip competence. It took Apple ten years from the first iPad chips to "Apple Silicon" for every product. If you want to build rolling computers, your core competence should not be bending sheet metal.

SOURCE: Handlesblatt
 
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BMW board member on autonomous driving: "We can do that just like Tesla"

In an interview, BMW board member Frank Weber explains why the new iX is a serious competitor for Tesla - and why BMW does not want to replace the driver with a computer

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BMW Board Member for Production Frank Weber

The BMW board of directors does not believe in the rapid breakthrough of autonomous driving.
(Photo: picture alliance / dpa

Munich The BMW group is skeptical about the introduction of autonomous driving. “The steering wheel will remain for a long time. As BMW, we have always pointed out that the development of automated driving is extremely demanding, ”says BMW development chief Frank Weber in an interview with Handelsblatt.

Weber presented the BMW “iX” on Wednesday. The electric car is scheduled to hit the market next year, but, contrary to what was previously promised, it will initially not be able to drive independently with a motorway pilot. “We still need time after the introduction of the car for the technically necessary safeguarding of the technology kit. If we see real added value for our customers in the combination of security, function and assumption of responsibility through the system, we will offer the option, ”Weber explained.

“With us, security and customer function always go hand in hand. That is why we will not rush to transfer the full responsibility from the driver to the computer, as is the case with highly automated level 3 driving ”.

Weber is also reacting to announcements by competitors Waymo , Teslaand the Intel subsidiary Mobileye. The technology groups are working flat out on the introduction of so-called robot taxis, which will make the driver superfluous. Johann Jungwirth, head of Mobileye's mobility division, announced last week that from 2025 “the steering wheel could be part of the special equipment” .



Read the full interview here:

Mr. Weber, in front of the door you can test cars on the autobahn that are controlled by computers. When will your customers experience this?

We are preparing very intensively for this technology. The “iX” has our new modular technology system on board so that it can introduce the next generation of driver assistance systems onto the market. With us, security and customer function always go hand in hand. That is why we will not be hastily transferring the full responsibility from the driver to the computer, as is the case with highly automated level 3 driving.

In 2018 you announced that the “iX” can drive highly automated. Why are you backing down now?
We have always pointed out the enormous challenge when the vehicle is to take responsibility from the driver. For the technically necessary safeguarding of the technology kit, we still need time after the introduction of the car. If we see real added value for our customers in the combination of security, function and assumption of responsibility by the system, we will offer the option. This also applies to the legislature, who first has to clarify how to test and evaluate this technology.

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The new BMW iX

The electric SUV is set to usher in a new era for BMW.
(Photo: press photo BMW)

What do you use as a guide for admission?

With highly automated driving, we have to prove that computers drive safer than humans. Today people drive 700 million kilometers without accidents. For us, this is the benchmark.

Motorways are rather monotonous to drive, a computer should be able to do that.
Normal driving on the autobahn is not the problem; our vehicles already offer that with assistance systems in level 2. But let's assume we are overtaking a truck that is slowly coming into our lane. With the “iX” with its assistance functions, the driver still decides how this critical situation is to be resolved. When we hand over responsibility from the driver to the vehicle in highly automated driving, the computer has to weigh up what to do: brake or accelerate? It's about those special situations in which the computer must act safely.


"We can do that just like Tesla"

Can the computer do that? Does it have enough information and data via its sensors?

Our laser scanners will look further than anything on the market today. They have to. Because today the limit for highly automated driving is still 60 kilometers per hour, soon we could reach 80 and 100 kilometers per hour. The installation of these laser scanners in series is a question of cost, so this technology will only come when all the framework conditions are in place. The "iX" is the snow plow for the entire model range. What we are developing here is transferred to other models such as 7 and 5 series over time.

Your competitor saves the high costs for the lidar sensors, Tesla only works with camera data. On this basis, Tesla delivers an "autopilot". Is Tesla braver than BMW?
With today's level 2 systems, no lidar is necessary. We can do that just like Tesla. From level 3 with responsibility for the vehicle, it will not work without lidar - for no provider.

Nevertheless, Tesla customers in the USA are already driving hands-free on the highway.
The registration of a car in the USA is completely different than in Europe. I can only speak for ourselves: We already offer a level 2 assistance system in the USA, in which the driver can take his hands off the steering wheel for longer stretches of the motorway - but he must still be aware of the traffic, and that is monitored by the assistance system with a camera in the cockpit. This is legally possible in the USA, and our vehicles prove every day that it works safely. Nevertheless, the responsibility remains with the driver, unlike level 3, where responsibility is passed on to the vehicle.

So it takes a lot longer in Europe.

The legislator in Europe has initially set the threshold to level 3 at 60 kilometers per hour, up to which highly automated driving is possible. That means: even if our system can do much more, we could only allow it up to 60 kilometers per hour. Together with the legislature, we will approach higher speeds. Whether a car drives 60 or 100 requires significantly more computing power. That is why the legislature is very cautious in Europe.


Is this European caution a competitive disadvantage for BMW?

We are glad that the EU Commission and the Federal Government are now accelerating their work on the subject. It is a demanding process because ethical issues also have to be clarified. However, this approach corresponds very much to our safety philosophy. If competitors act differently and accept certain risks in return, that is not a benchmark for us.

Nevertheless, we have the impression that the tech industry is working much more purposefully towards autonomous driving. The goal of Waymo and Uber and Mobileye is to introduce robotic taxis.

Urban driving is a completely different category. Here we are talking about the vehicle driving alone, with no expectation of the driver to intervene. That takes a lot more time. There are intersections, there are cyclists, and suddenly a car door opens somewhere. If you want to drive highly automated in the city, then you have to create extremely secure framework conditions, separate and separate lanes for automated vehicles, for example to protect other road users.

"The euphoria of the tech industry meets reality"

Some dare to do that. The Intel subsidiary Mobileye wants to get rid of the steering wheels by the middle of the decade.

The steering wheel will remain for a long time. As BMW, we have always pointed out that the development of automated driving is extremely demanding. Take the announcements of certain providers from 2012. Back then it was said: In 2015 everything will be autonomous. In 2019 it wasn't that far, so it should be in the next few years.

Have some of them put their mouths too full?

The euphoria of the tech industry is now meeting reality. Our ultimate goal is to protect everyone who is on the road. And it follows that the whole process takes time. Then there are those concepts that want to replace the driver. We don't want to replace the driver. Of course, in some places there will also be autonomous cabins that move around the city. But that is not primarily the field in which we see ourselves.

Is that the reason why you put the next steps in autonomous driving on the back burner together with Daimler ?

We're not the only ones who see it that way. Many manufacturers are now shifting their projects from the automobile to the commercial vehicle business. It's easier because one truck after the other drives long distances on the autobahn, sometimes hundreds of kilometers. You move a car completely differently, it also drives through cities. Only in the next decade will there be official statements on the framework conditions for automated urban driving.

The tech industry sees billions in sales when private car traffic shifts to sharing services. Don't you?
With “Your Now” we have built up a leading mobility service provider in Europe together with Daimler in recent years . In our opinion, the part of individual mobility that can be replaced with these mobility services is still limited. We ask ourselves what will be relevant for customers in the future. We are also taking a very close look at the developments in sharing and on-demand services. What are the attractive business areas for us? We evaluate this regularly.

And the result?

These services will certainly find their place with increasing digitalization - primarily in the large, urban centers. Many of our customers today live predominantly in urban areas, and not everyone wants or can replace their own car with such services.

"We are not vigilantes who gloss over the situation"

In order to be successful in the future, it is enough for BMW to just keep building high-quality cars, right?

No, that would be a misinterpretation. We are not vigilantes who gloss over the situation. On the contrary. We take a very close look at how urbanity and mobility are changing. Our own experience in this very dynamic business field is of great benefit to us. The developments that were forecast a few years ago may, however, occur more slowly. Of course, we register certain tendencies in urban areas towards new mobility concepts. However, these do not fundamentally call into question our entire business model.

What is the consequence of this realization: Was the billion that BMW and Daimler invested in the joint Your Now services, wasted money?

But on the contrary. For an automobile manufacturer, it is still of central importance to know how mobility works as a whole. As of September 2020, 95.8 million people were using the joint venture's services. Through these experiences we can derive many important insights for the future. With Share Now, for example, we have a completely different insight into the opportunities and problems there are with car sharing. As an example: sharing electric mobility is currently not easy for customers. Because there are no charging stations where they would ideally park the cars. But going in there and understanding this area is extremely important.

Wouldn't it then be more consistent to give up your own mobility services entirely?

We have gained a lot of know-how in this area and the current situation is very dynamic. The pandemic is also making business more difficult for some services. In principle, both shareholders stand behind their investments in the mobility sector. Opening up to partners and investors can play an important role in their further development. Both partners are also keen to gear their investments towards sustainable profitability.

SOURCE: Handlesblatt
 
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The BMW iX is here, and it's a 500bhp electric SUV

Forget the 'ultimate driving machine' - this one's all about mobility


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This is what BMW is calling its technology signature car. The all-electric iX is the production version of the iNEXT concept, and starts rolling out late in 2021.

It represents the most decisive move away from the old DNA of the ultimate driving machine. This one’s about mobility. They “started by thinking about the interior” says design chief Adrian van Hooydonk. It’s meant to be relaxing. “Cozy, reduced, inspired by architecture.” So indoors we see soft clean surfaces, and minimised detail.

Mobility doesn’t mean sluggishness mind. It’s all-electric, and in the way of the of those things, it’s ruddy fast. The two-motor drivetrain amounts to 500 horsepower, getting it to 62mph in under five seconds. Electric range will be about 375 miles WLTP. For longer trips than that, the battery can ingest charge at 200kW, meaning 40-odd minutes for an 80 per cent recharge.

Back to the cabin. The concept car introduced the idea of ‘shy tech’ - hidden switches and controls – for a cleaner look. Here the centre console’s wood surface has microswitches buried within, and the thing that looks like a clear crystal paperweight is actually the iDrive controller, with a touch-sensitive surface.

Speakers are all but hidden. The projector for the head-up display is also neatly hidden in the dash. Usually they’re a clumsy intrusion. The main touch-screen, cantilevered out from the dash on a slim scaffold, is curved and frameless.

Outside, the proportions are of a normal BMW SUV. But surfaces are kept super-simple, with the polygonal wheelarches cut away from the sides as if by a palette knife. It’s a new design language for the company.

And the nose is anything but shy. Those colossal upright kidneys aren’t air grilles, but a panel that’s transparent to the various wavelengths used for the driver-assist sensing equipment hidden behind.

Mind you, if it looks new and shocking at the front, think back to the 1965 BMW CS. OK, that was elegant and this is brutal, but there’s an echo in the basic graphics.

More hidden stuff: the front BMW badge is actually the lid of the screenwash reservoir, and the doorhandles are flush.

The iNEXT concept car was spoken of as a potentially autonomous machine, but BMW is for now rowing back on those claims. Even so, the iX is an immensely powerful computer on wheels, with the ability to process 20 times as much data as any BMW so far. It’s all part of a new electrical architecture that’ll allow self-driving when it’s technically feasible and legal.

And the iX uses a new structural platform too. It’s largely aluminium, with a ‘carbon cage’ of carbonfibre framework around the sides, roof and tail keeping the whole shell rigid and saving a load of weight. Aerodynamic efficiency matters to stretch the range, and the Cd is as low as 0.25.

Obviously SUVs have a lot of frontal area, though they claim this one has been reduced by shaving its roof height to that of an X6. Overall size matches an X5, but they make a lot of play of a sense of extra cabin room, thanks to the flat floor.

SOURCE: TopGear
 
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