The Short Cut: Innovations in motion - AR, EVs and automated safety
Berkay Turker ·Jun 03, 2024

The Short Cut: Innovations in motion - AR, EVs and automated safety

Berkay Turker
Berkay Turker
Staff Writer
Jun 03, 2024 · 8 min read
Innovations in motion - AR, EVs and automated safety | TomTom Newsroom

We’re back again! It’s the Short Cut time. This month’s edition is packed with stories we’ve been reading, covering AI in transport to record EV sales and the traffic impact of stunning northern lights display (yes, even in May). Here are the latest updates.

UK AI accelerator backs seven new transport firms

Seven companies are joining the High Growth AI Accelerator for transport, part of the Innovate UK BridgeAI program, Digital Catapult announced.

This initiative aims to enhance AI and machine learning in the transport sector, which is projected to hit £5 billion by 2027. Transport for London (TfL) will partner with OpenCapacity and PodTech to improve bus service efficiency and accessibility. The program, running for about 3 months, offers resources to accelerate AI innovations for sustainable growth in transport.

Autonomous Vehicle Tech Expo heads to Stuttgart

The ADAS & Autonomous Vehicle Technology Expo Europe (co-located with Automotive Testing Expo Europe) is set to take place in Stuttgart, Germany on June 4-6, 2024. As a premier event for the automotive industry, it will showcase cutting-edge technologies in autonomous driving and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS).

Over 150 exhibitors will present advancements in sensors, simulation, mapping, AI and more. And over 80 expert speakers from companies like Volvo, BMW and Stellantis, will discuss key topics including AI integration in autonomous vehicles, innovative testing methodologies, navigating new regulatory frameworks. Overall, this event draws such broad and strong delegates and we'll be keeping our eyes on what comes out of it.

Solar storm disrupts farmers' GPS systems

A powerful geomagnetic storm disrupted GPS systems in tractors recently. The phenomenon stalled planting operations for many farmers in the U.S. and Canada as reported by 404 Media. Farmers rely on GPS technology for precision planting, which ensures accurate row spacing and optimal crop yields.

The storm left many unable to operate their equipment, including Patrick O'Connor, a farmer in Minnesota, who experienced the outage while trying to plant corn, and Kevin Kenney in Nebraska who also reported his tractors were unusable.

This storm, the strongest since 2003, underscores the critical importance of accuracy in mapping and location technologies and just how much we rely on them in all walks of life. Landmark Implement, which sells John Deere farming equipment, is now seeking predictive tools to alert farmers in advance.

A farmer truck under the sunset

Northern Lights enchant millions across the U.S.

In mid-May, Americans were treated to a celestial spectacle as far south as Alabama and Northern California with the aurora borealis painting the night sky. The dazzling display was courtesy of a powerful geomagnetic storm that reached Earth, marking the first storm of its type since 2003.

While the storm raised concerns about disruptions to communication systems and GPS, luckily though no such impact was reported, it also offered a rare opportunity for millions to witness the aurora's mesmerizing dance. The event prompted government forecasters to issue warnings about potential disruptions, but it also highlighted the beauty and wonder of space weather. Such celestial events, similar to solar eclipses, often draw large crowds and increase traffic as people travel to witness these spectacular natural phenomena as we saw earlier in the year with the solar eclipse. Read the full story on CBS News.

Chinese electric cars face European hurdles

Chinese electric vehicles, despite matching or exceeding European brands in range and quality, are struggling to find buyers in Europe. It seems buyers are wary of Chinese brands, concerned about trade protectionism. Additionally, the rapid pace of technological advancements can make it hard for consumers to commit to a purchase, fearing that their investment may quickly become outdated.

It might sound familiar to those who've been in the auto trades for a while. Japanese car brands faced similar challenges when they first entered the market. But now, Japanese cars are a common sight on our roads, showing how important patience and perseverance are in building brand loyalty and trust.

High import tariffs and the fast pace of model updates are complicating market entry for Chinese brands. However, focusing on fleet sales and investing in building brand image and reliability could pave the way for success in the long term, as reported by The Conversation.

Calculate your savings with an EV

The U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory has introduced a new tool to help drivers estimate their potential savings by switching to an electric vehicle (EV). The Driving Electric: Local Fuel Savings Calculator considers factors like fuel and electricity prices, vehicle model, tank size and annual mileage.

Fast Company reports, in New York, switching to an EV from a 2023 combustion engine car with a 13-gallon (12.7L) tank could save drivers $0.05 per mile, amounting to $620.43 annually. The calculator demonstrates savings for both battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

With EV prices gradually decreasing and advancements in battery technology, we see just how much can be saved by going electric. It's not just the environmental choice but it's also a smart financial decision as EV prices continue to drop and technology improves.

Record electric vehicle sales in 2024

Electric vehicle (EV) sales in the UK surged in the first four months of 2024, exceeding 100,000 units — a milestone reached earlier than ever before. This marks a 10% increase from April 2023, with EVs now comprising 17.2% of total new car purchases, according to data published by New AutoMotive.

The UK's Zero Emissions Vehicle mandate, alongside growing consumer interest, has been key in this shift. Premium brands like BMW and Audi, as well as more affordable options like MG and Hyundai, are benefiting from this trend. While some manufacturers have struggled to meet the ZEV mandate, competition among EV makers is expected to drive down costs for consumers and continue to make EVs an alluring option.

As the UK moves towards banning internal combustion engine vehicles by 2035, concerns about EV infrastructure and charging points remain. However, as EV sales grow, the expansion of infrastructure is anticipated to lower costs and make EV ownership more accessible to a wider audience.

Want to learn more about what TomTom's doing in the EV space? Click below.

Exploring electric and zero-emission trains

We could be about to see a lot more electric trains on our railways, and not those powered by overhead lines. Battery electric (BEV) and fuel cell (FC) trains promise a greener future for rail transport, offering both environmental benefits and long-term cost savings in places where there might not be overhead power lines, reports IDTechEx. With businesses setting ambitious emission reduction targets, the shift towards BEV and FC trains is driven by the need for fuel economy and sustainability.

Hybrid trains, powered by batteries without overhead lines, are already reducing fuel consumption, but the ultimate goal is fully electric trains, eliminating the need for fossil fuel altogether. BEV trains not only improve environmental impact but also promise financial savings by cutting diesel fuel costs. Moreover, they improve physical accessibility, making low-emission rail travel more feasible in remote areas where installing overhead infrastructure is challenging and costly. As the market for electric trains expands, rail stations will need to enhance their power infrastructure to accommodate charging needs.

A line chart shows global battery demand for untethered electric trainsGlobal battery demand for untethered electric trains. Credit: IDTechEx,

Automated double-parking enforcement for safer roads

Hayden AI, a San Francisco-based company specializing in vision AI and spatial analytics, has introduced Laser Lanes, a new tool designed to automatically detect and enforce penalties on those who double park, aiming to make our roads safer. Using its “smart” technology, the company has created an automated system that spots and deals with illegal double parkers, which can cause traffic problems and disrupt public transit.

Chris Carson, Hayden AI's CEO, highlights how just one double-parked car can cause big delays for buses and commuters. With this innovation, they're aiming to keep traffic flowing smoothly and people moving safely. Check out the video here.

Research explores augmented reality's role in autonomous vehicles

Researchers at the University of Glasgow are exploring how augmented reality (AR) can help passengers in self-driving cars stay relaxed yet alert.

The research explores how AR displays, like heads-up displays (HUDs), can overlay helpful graphics on real-world views through car windshields to keep drivers informed about road conditions and potential hazards. The study is testing if this technology could let drivers engage in non-driving tasks, like using entertainment apps, while still being ready to take control if needed.

In tests, people using AR displays noticed road hazards better than those using tablets, especially when visual cues were provided to draw attention to developing road situations. The study found that adding visual cues helps drivers focus and understand situations quickly, highlighting a potential "Goldilocks" zone where people can be engaged in a task while still being kept in the loop on developing road conditions. However, researchers emphasized the need for further research to understand how augmented reality can best support users of highly automated cars.

That wraps up another edition of The Short Cut! Stay tuned for more intriguing stories in the world of tech, mobility and location data. See you next time!

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