Ford F-150 and BMW i8 win 2014 Innovation Vehicle Of The Year Awards
The Motor Press Guild (MPG), the largest automotive media association in North America, announced two winners of its 2014 Innovation Vehicle of the Year (IVY) Award, with the 2015 Ford F-150 winning the under $30,000 class and 2014 BMW i8 taking the award for the $30,000 and over category. The announcement was made Wednesday during the LA Auto Show's MPG Motoring Invitational.
An expert panel of judges evaluated all nominated vehicles and selected a group of 13 finalists. Those vehicles were then voted on by MPG's journalist and analyst members, who determined the winners by evaluating each car on innovation, technology, engineering, safety, environmental impact, price, affordability and value.
To aid voters in their final decisions, MPG partnered with AutoHarvest to supply third-party information about the advanced technologies incorporated into the finalist vehicles.
Under $30,000 Winner: 2015 Ford F-150
According to John Dinkel, MPG's IVY Awards Chairperson, the all-new 2015 F-150 sets up an enormous risk-reward scenario for Ford, as the brand introduces its first all-aluminum bodied model. By using aluminum, the F-150 saves up to 700 pounds of weight, giving the truck advantages in fuel economy, acceleration, braking and a higher towing and hauling capacity.
There are also synergistic weight reductions in powertrain and chassis components and customer concerns with strength, ruggedness and repair-ability have been addressed via high-strength, dent and ding resistant, aerospace-grade, aluminum alloys.
“All these risks-rewards are focused on one word—aluminum—and Ford's decision to become the first automaker to use significant amounts of this lightweight material in high-volume production is a gamble,” said Dinkel. “Huge as manufacturing delays could cost Ford its truck sales leadership. Then again, if everything aligns, Ford will become the world leader in the use of aluminum in automobiles. This truck is a game changer.”
Over $30,000 Winner: 2014 BMW i8
High performance and high efficiency are not often used as descriptors of the same car, but MPG members agree the BMW's i8 sports car is a notable exception. BMW's first plug-in hybrid sports car features a powerful electric motor driving the front wheels combined with a turbocharged 1.5-liter 3-cylinder gasoline engine connected to the rear wheels. MPG members were impressed with the car's drivetrain combination, which powers the i8 from rest to 60 mph in around 4.3 seconds and to a top speed (electronically limited) of 156 mph. In either of its two pure EV modes, the i8 can be driven about 23 miles before the IC engine kicks in.
“The i8 also boasts an extensive use of recycled, renewable raw and naturally treated materials, further exemplifying the innovation, environmental impact and enhanced engineering principles of the IVY award,” said Dinkel.
Furthermore, to compensate for the extra weight of the batteries and electric motor, the i8's passenger compartment is made of carbon fiber, making BMW's i models the first high-production vehicles to make such substantial use of this high-tech material.
“On behalf of all MPG members, I'd like to congratulate Ford and BMW on their IVY awards,” said MPG President Joni Gray. “We had an exceptional group of entries this year, but MPG's journalist and analyst members agreed that these two vehicles represent the year's best in technology, safety and innovation.”
The MPG Motoring Invitational was an exclusive morning event that featured nearly 50 unique, historic and significant vehicles and celebrated all aspects of the car hobby, bringing together some of the most interesting automobiles from influential icons, tastemakers, luminaries, collectors and celebrities for Press & Trade Day attendees to enjoy.
Fluent.ai x BSH: Voice Automating the Assembly Line
Fluent.ai has deployed its voice recognition solutions in one of BSH’s German factories. BSH leads the market in producing connected appliances—its brands include Bosch, Siemens, Gaggenau, NEFF, and Thermador, and with this new partnership, the company intends to cut transition time in its assembly lines.
According to BSH, voice automation will yield 75-100% efficiency gains—but it’s the collaboration between the two companies that stands out. ‘After considering 11 companies for this partnership, we chose Fluent.ai because of their key competitive differentiators’, explained Ion Hauer, Venture Partner at BSH Startup Kitchen.
What Sets Fluent.ai Apart?
After seven years of research, the company developed a wide range of artificial intelligence (AI) software products to help original equipment manufacturers (OEM) expand their services. Three key aspects stood out to BSH, which operates across the world and in unique factory environments.
- Robust noise controls. The system can operate even in loud conditions.
- Low latency. The AI understands commands quickly and accurately.
- Multilingual support. BSH can expand the automation to any of its 50+ country operations.
How Voice Automation Works
Instead of pressing buttons, BSH factory workers will now be able to speak into a headset fitted with Fluent.ai’s voice recognition technology. After uttering a WakeWord, workers can use a command to start assembly line movement. As the technology is hands-free, workers benefit from less physical strain, which will both reduce employee fatigue and boost line production.
‘Implementing Fluent’s technology has already improved efficiencies within our factory, with initial implementation of the solution cutting down the transition time from four seconds to one and a half”, said Markus Maier, Project Lead at the BSH factory. ‘In the long run, the production time savings will be invaluable’.
Future Global Adoption
In the coming years, BSH and Fluent.ai will continue to push for artificial intelligence on factory lines, pursuing efficiency, ergonomics, and a healthy work environment. ‘We started with Fluent.ai on one factory assembly line, moved to three, and [are now] considering rolling the technology out worldwide’, said Maier.
Said Probal Lala, Fluent.ai’s CEO: ‘We are thrilled to be working with BSH, a company at the forefront of innovation. Seeing your solution out in the real world is incredibly rewarding, and we look forward to continuing and growing our collaboration’.