Audi vs. Google: Who will win the driverless race?
Driverless cars have become synonymous with Google. The Internet behemoth has been developing autonomous vehicles since 2005 and in 2014 launched its latest prototype, which had neither steering wheels nor pedals. Google seemed to be leading the sector; however in the last month car manufacturer Audi has taken strides that could see it overtake the technology giant.
On Tuesday 23rd September, Audi announced that it had become the first automaker to receive a permit from the state government to test self-driving cars on California’s public roads. Audi’s permit was granted under state regulations that went into effect the same day. Does this mean the luxury German brand could overtake Google and become the first manufacturer of a vehicle that can drive itself? Yes and no, said John Rosevear, writing for Motley Fool, “Audi and Google aren’t really playing the same game. Google's self-driving experiments are a fascinating side venture for a famously smart company, but Audi's efforts are grimly serious,” he says
Google’s vision is one focused very much on the future of driving - a future in which road traffic accidents and congestion become much less common. Its latest prototype is small and bug-like vehicle with no pedals or even a steering wheel – it’s a totally new concept for driving. On the flip side Audi is focused more on creating a self-driving vehicle that looks very much like its current models - its end goal being to outpace the competition by introducing self-drive elements, rather then utterly disrupt the sector.
So who is more likely to win the driverless race?
In truth, the first driverless car to come to market will probably look very different from Google’s prototype and more like the vehicles we are used to seeing on our roads daily already. Like many of the technological advances that have been introduced to the automotive manufacturing sector in the past, the battle over self-driving cars will most likely play out in the luxury car market. Before we see a fully autonomous vehicle hit our roads, we will see driverless features added to luxury vehicles already in existence.
In fact, driverless feature are already making an appearance. Many automakers have already introduced features that incorporate technology developed as part of the research into self-driving cars. They include systems that help guide you into tight parking spaces, keep you at a set distance from other cars on the highway, and warn you if you're about to hit an unseen object.
Last year, Mercedes-Benz went even further, introducing the first car that can drive itself, if only occasionally. The new-for-2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedan includes a suite of features called ‘Intelligent Drive’. Under certain limited conditions - stop-and-go highway traffic, for instance - the Intelligent Drive system can accelerate, brake, and steer for the driver, up to speeds of 37 mph.
It's far from a true self-driving system - the driver still must pay attention and be ready to take over. However, it's an impressive feature that no other automaker has implemented; in the high-end luxury car market, that matters a lot: U.S. sales of the S-Class are up 107 percent so far this year. No wonder Audi is hoping to win its slice of the sector.
The luxury car market takes pole position
While Google is winning in the PR stakes, it’s the likes of Mercedes that other auto manufacturers are keeping their eyes on. The success of its self-driving features is causing other manufacturers to bring their own autonomous ideas to market.
Earlier this month, General Motors CEO Mary Barra announced that the automaker's ‘Super Cruise’ system would come to market with the 2017 Cadillac, while BMW is expected to bring limited self-driving capabilities to some of its models soon in the form of its ‘ActiveAssist’ system. Nissan has also promised advances self-driving capabilities in the near future. Its latest Q50 sedan already includes a feature called ‘Active Lane Control’, which can briefly take control of the car's steering to nudge it back on course if you drift out of your lane on the highway.
In short, Audi’s latest move is not designed to beat Google when it comes to developing a new way of driving, but is about keeping up with and likely surpassing other luxury automakers attempts to make steps in the field.
Google doesn’t need to be worried. Its bold ideas and fierce ambition set it head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to product development and disrupting the status quo.
Siemens: Providing the First Industrial 5G Router
Across a number of industry sectors, there’s a growing need for both local wireless connectivity and remote access to machines and plants. In both of these cases, communication is, more often than not, over a long distance. Public wireless data networks can be used to enable this connectivity, both nationally and internationally, which makes the new 5G network mainframe an absolutely vital element of remote access and remote servicing solutions as we move into the interconnected age.
Siemens Enables 5G IIoT
The eagerly awaited Scalance MUM856-1, Siemens’ very first industrial 5G router, is officially available to organisations. The device has the ability to connect all local industrial applications to the public 5G, 4G (LTE), and 3G (UMTS) mobile wireless networks ─ allowing companies to embrace the long-awaited Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
The router can be used to remotely monitor and service plants, machines, as well as control elements and other industrial devices via a public 5G network ─ flexibly and with high data rates. Something that has been in incredibly high demand after being teased by the leading network providers for years.
Scalance MUM856-1 at a Glance
- Scalance MUM856-1 connects local industrial applications to public 5G, 4G, and 3G mobile wireless networks
- The router supports future-oriented applications such as remote access via public 5G networks or the connection of mobile devices such as automated guided vehicles in industry
- A robust version in IP65 housing for use outside the control cabinet
- Prototypes of Siemens 5G infrastructure for private networks already in use at several sites
“To ensure the powerful connection of Ethernet-based subnetworks and automation devices, the Scalance MUM856-1 supports Release 15 of the 5G standard. The device offers high bandwidths of up to 1000 Mbps for the downlink and up to 500 Mbps for the uplink – providing high data rates for data-intensive applications such as the remote implementation of firmware updates. Thanks to IPv6 support, the devices can also be implemented in modern communication networks.
Various security functions are included to monitor data traffic and protect against unauthorised access: for example, an integrated firewall and authentication of communication devices and encryption of data transmission via VPN. If there is no available 5G network, the device switches automatically to 4G or 3G networks. The first release version of the router has an EU radio license; other versions with different licenses are in preparation. With the Sinema Remote Connect management platform for VPN connections, users can access remote plants or machines easily and securely – even if they are integrated in other networks. The software also offers easy management and autoconfiguration of the devices,” Siemens said.
Preparing for a 5G-oriented Future
Siemens has announced that the new router can also be integrated into private 5G networks. This means that the Scalance MUM856-1 is, essentially, future-proofed when it comes to 5G adaptability; it supports future-oriented applications, including ‘mobile robots in manufacturing, autonomous vehicles in logistics or augmented reality applications for service technicians.’
And, for use on sites where conditions are a little harsher, Siemens has given the router robust IP65 housing ─ it’s “dust tight”, waterproof, and immersion-proofed.
The first release version of the router has an EU radio license; other versions with different licenses are in preparation. “With the Sinema Remote Connect management platform for VPN connections, users can access remote plants or machines easily and securely – even if they are integrated in other networks. The software also offers easy management and auto-configuration of the devices,” Siemens added.