2017 Automotive Trends: The future will be rocky for auto companies unable to improve returns on capital (Strategy&)

"Innovative software developments may make tomorrow’s vehicles exceptionally expensive: OEMs and suppliers must earmark resources for acquiring new technology and recruiting experienced technical talent. Many of the new features going into cars require the expertise of software engineers, who by and large prefer the ostensibly more dynamic work environments of Silicon Valley startups to those of the automotive industry. As a result, some of the recent mergers and acquisitions in the automobile sector were undertaken to augment in-house technical knowledge and capabilities. For instance, German supplier ZF Group, which paid US$12.4 billion in 2015 to acquire TRW in order to expand into the electronic safety and connectivity market, took a 40 percent stake in vehicle radar supplier Ibeo Automotive Systems in 2016.
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The rising cost of safety and environmental regulations is also a concern for the industry. In the U.S., potential regulatory relaxation under the new administration has stirred at least some hope that higher costs associated with tightened emissions standards might arrive more slowly or even be avoided. However, there is a question whether a change in federal U.S. regulations would make a significant difference because individual U.S. states — and the whole of Europe — can continue to push for stricter standards. In addition, the regulatory requirements in other parts of the world are quickly catching up to those in the more regulated countries. For instance, China now has emissions standards for large cities similar to Europe’s, with only a brief (one- or two-year) grace period for smaller cities. Moreover, the real environmental challenges that underlie these trends are not going away and will ultimately have to be confronted.”

22/03/2017

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Semiconductor industry is moving towards automotive business (Smart2Zero)

"Microprocessor design and IP company ARM intends to put more emphasis on the requirements of the automotive industry. The reason is that the mutual interdependency of semiconductor and automotive industry is rapidly growing.
Wolfgang Helfricht, director of platform marketing from ARM’s Physical Design Group, puts the figures onto the table: Vehicles currently consume about 10 percent of the world’s semiconductor production, Helfricht wrote in a recent blog post. Given the demand of computing power, sensing capabilities and connectivity in tomorrow’s self-driving cars, this percentage will grow rapidly – experts like Helfricht estimate that it will multiply at a factor of 100 within the next ten years. And ARM processor cores are in most of today’s microprocessors, microcontrollers or SoCs of all types.
The specific requirements of automotive applications – advanced safety and security features, robustness, quick booting and, to an increasing extend, high number crunching capabilities – motivated ARM to adjust its product strategy to take this clientele more into account. “More of ARM’s products are being developed from the ground up with automotive applications in mind”, Helfricht wrote in his blog post.
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In this business environment, ARM has announced the developed of a platform of dedicated automotive ARM Artisan Physical IP with features custom-made for the automotive market and taking into account functional safety standard ISO 26262 and AEC-Q100 as well as the TSMC 9000A quality requirements of ARM’s foundry partner TSMC.”

17/03/2017

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'Dangerous' security flaws in safety-critical Internet device design, finds survey (Smart2Zero)

"About a quarter of the designers of internet-connected products that could be dangerous do not have security as a design requirement, according to a survey of embedded systems designers conducted by the Barr Group consultancy (Germantown, MD).
Approximately 28 percent of the more than 1,700 qualified respondents in the survey indicated that the products they are designing are capable of causing injury or death to one or more people and of those products the respondents anticipated that nearly half will be always or sometimes connected to the Internet. The participants in the survey were drawn from all over the world with 50 percent in North America, 27 percent from Europe, 14 percent from Asia and 9 percent from other places.
Any computer, medical device or embedded system that is connected to the Internet can be attacked by hackers but despite this 26 percent of embedded systems engineers working on safety-critical products that would be deployed online said security was not even on their requirements list.”

08/03/2017

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A rogue robot is blamed for a human colleague’s gruesome death (QuartzMedia)

"In July 2015, Wanda Holbrook, a maintenance technician performing routine duties on an assembly line at Ventra Ionia Main, an auto-parts maker in Ionia, Michigan, was “trapped by robotic machinery” and crushed to death. On March 7, her husband, William Holbrook, filed a wrongful death complaint (pdf) in Michigan federal court, naming five North American robotics companies involved in engineering and integrating the machines and parts used at the plant: Prodomax, Flex-N-Gate, FANUC, Nachi, and Lincoln Electric.
Holbrook’s job involved keeping robots in working order. She routinely inspected and adjusted processes on the assembly line at Ventra, which makes bumpers and trailer hitches. One day, Holbrook was performing her regular duties when a machine acted very irregularly, according to the lawsuit reported in Courthouse News.
Holbrook was in the plant’s six-cell “100 section” when a robot unexpectedly activated, taking her by surprise. The cells are separated by safety doors and the robot should not have been able to move. But it somehow reached Holbrook, and was intent on loading a trailer-hitch assembly part right where she stood over a similar part in another cell.
The machine loaded the hardware onto Holbrook’s head. She was unable to escape, and her skull was crushed. Co-workers who eventually noticed that something seemed amiss found Holbrook dead.
“The robot from section 130 should have never entered section 140, and should have never attempted to load a hitch assembly within a fixture that was already loaded with a hitch assembly. A failure of one or more of defendants’ safety systems or devices had taken place, causing Wanda’s death,” the lawsuit alleges.
William Holbrook seeks an unspecified amount of damages, arguing that before her gruesome death, his wife “suffered tremendous fright, shock and conscious pain and suffering.” He also names three of the defendants—FANUC, Nachi, and Lincoln Electric—in two additional claims of product liability and breach of implied warranty. He argues that the robots, tools, controllers, and associated parts were not properly designed, manufactured or tested, and not fit for use. “At all relevant times, technically feasible alternative design and engineering practices were available that could have prevented the harm without significantly impairing the usefulness or desirability of the automation system to users and without creating equal or greater risk of harm to others,” Holbrook’s family argues.
According to the US Department of Labor’s Occupation Safety and Health Administration, robots are “generally used to perform unsafe, hazardous, highly repetitive, and unpleasant tasks.” But despite any potential safety advantages, OSHA writes, “studies indicate that many robot accidents occur during non-routine operating conditions, such as programming, maintenance, testing, setup, or adjustment. During many of these operations the worker may temporarily be within the robot’s working envelope where unintended operations could result in injuries.” There are currently no specific workplace safety standards for the robotics industry, according to OSHA. As of 2014, the agency reported about 30 robotics-related deaths over a period of 30 years. ”

13/03/2017

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Synopsys rolls ASIL-certified processor IP to ADAS designers (EETimes)

"Safety-critical functions in ADAS systems and, broadly, in automotive electronics, are required to be designed according to ISO 26262. Synopsys now breaks new ground in this type of applications: The company has developed pre-certified IP that enables SoC designers to integrate proven processor technology into their safety functions, significantly reducing design effort.
Synopsys’ new “ARC EM Safety Island” DesignWare IP contains verified dual-core processors based on Synopsys’s ARC EM4 32-bit processor architecture that support safety criticality in two ways: This IP is already certified to meet ASIL D, the highest level in the risk classification scheme of the ISO 26262 safety standard. Its architecture contains integrated safety monitors as well as a lockstep mechanism, a second “shadow” processor that executes the same code as the main processor to rule out hardware faults. Other features adding safety to the system are multiple hardware safety functions, error correction code (ECC) technology as well as a programmable watchdog timer to detect system failures and runtime errors. This IP will be available initially for Synopsys’ EM4SI and EM5DSI virtual processors; in the second quarter the company plans to add the EM6 and EM7D cores.”

08/03/2017

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