Renault gives us glimpse of the future with autonomous-ready concept

15 Dec 2017

The Symbioz autonomous concept car from Renault. Image: Francesc Montero/Renault

This week in IoT, autonomous and connected car technology dominates, with Renault demoing its latest concept vehicle.

There was some major Irish success in the world of internet of things (IoT) hardware manufacturing, with Dublin-based DecaWave winning a major international award.

The company was honoured at this year’s Global Semiconductor Alliance (GSA) awards – the industry’s ‘Oscars’ – with the Start-up to Watch award.

In its announcement of the winners, the GSA said that DecaWave was chosen as it was “a company that has demonstrated the potential to positively change its market or the industry through the innovative use of semiconductor technology or a new application for semiconductor technology”.

Meanwhile, in the consumer world, a report from Cisco has shown that the adoption of IoT devices is in jeopardy if consumers are not confident in the safety of products.

The Cisco IoT Value/Trust Paradox report found that while most consumers are in no doubt of the value that these devices and services bring to their lives, very few are aware of how the data generated from them is being used.

Renault debuts Symbioz autonomous car

Autonomous electric-vehicle concepts are a dime a dozen these days as ambitious start-ups compete to build the Model T of the future, but Renault has garnered major attention with a new concept you can actually drive.

Called the Symbioz, the car was first revealed at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September, but was finally turned over to the hands of a few motoring journalists, which included a driver wearing a virtual reality headset.

The company said that the Symbioz is equipped with Level 4 autonomous technology, which the auto industry considers to be just one level shy of being truly autonomous.

Occupants in the car would be connected to the vehicle through their smartphones, monitoring their position in the car and adjusting, based on their selections of things such as seat-setting and music preferences.

Unsurprisingly, it is also packed full of sensors and would be capable of up to 500km of autonomous driving. It could be on our roads by 2023.

“Our engineering and design teams have pushed into the next decade with an autonomous car that lets you experience a new kind of mobility,” said Renault’s executive vice-president of product engineering, Gaspar Gascon Abellan.

“Electric and connected, this working concept car is designed from the outset to challenge old paradigms about getting from place to place.”

Autonomous car sensor start-up raises $27m

Every autonomous car being tested right now – and every model in the future – will rely on LiDAR to survey the world around the car and make detailed maps for the vehicle’s AI system.

Now, a newcomer to the start-up scene has already secured $27m to take it out of stealth, according to VentureBeat.

San Francisco-based Ouster announced the funding with the launch of its first LiDAR product, OS1, which marks a “step change in LiDAR-sensing technology” and a “marked improvements in mass, form factor and power requirements” over previous versions.

“The company has maintained a low profile for over two years, staying heads-down and focusing on getting the OS1 ready to ship,” said CEO Angus Pacala, who co-founded the company just last year.

“I’m incredibly proud of our team for their hard work to produce the most advanced, practical and scalable LiDAR sensor on the market, and we’re very excited about the impact our product will have in autonomous vehicles and other applications in robotics.”

Smart audio hardware value to skyrocket by 2022

The Echo has arguably surpassed all original expectations by Amazon, and now the smart home assistant is a household name.

But now, challengers to its throne in the form of Google, Sony and outsiders such as Harman, will propel the market to new levels.

In a report published by Juniper Research, it is estimated that the revenues from smart audio devices will grow from an estimated $2.5bn in 2017, to more than $10bn in 2022.

As for who will challenge Amazon to its crown, the report found that priorities are different, with tech companies building devices to link with their AI assistants, and speaker companies looking to tap into a new market.

The research shows how devices costing more than $200 will take more than 40pc of sector revenue while making up only 16pc of shipments in 2022, as voice assistants proliferate in premium audio.

“Amazon is the current leader in smart speakers because they were first to build a complete smart audio ecosystem,” said the report’s author, James Moar.

“Few audio brands currently integrate voice assistants throughout their portfolio, so users wanting smart audio will need workaround devices for some years to come.”

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Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic