This Renault-Nissan Alliance will join the ranks of car makers and automotive industry companies that have launched research and development (R&D) operations in Israel, revealed Carasso Motors Vice-President for Trading Avi Kenet in a panel discussion at last week’s Cars 2017 conference in Tel Aviv.
Kenet said that this month, an agreement was signed in France with Renault-Nissan Alliance to establish an independent Technology Innovation Center for the company in Israel. The center’s operations will include locating technologies and new companies pertinent to the automotive industry, and will provide entrepreneurs access to the company’s global activity, which is the third largest in the global automotive industry.
“The Better Place story is behind us, but the important thing is that the venture floated the electric car agenda, which is now considered the industry’s technology target and is closely linked to the development of the autonomous car,” said Kenet.
Yuval Diskin, chief executive officer (CEO) of CyMotive Technologies Ltd., a vehicle cyber security company, said that cars are becoming increasingly vulnerable to cyber attacks as they become connected online. He believes the automotive industry is headed in the direction of cars with artificial intelligence, and as cars get smarter, car makers will become a kind of “mini-Google,” able to gather specific information about customers, their habits, and so forth, multiplied by millions of vehicles, using AI tools to analyze data.
At the conference, Elad Sertafy, Mobileye vice-president and general manager of Aftermarket Division, said that achieving “zero accidents” was impossible, so long as the driving environment has unexpected factors. He added that in the next two decades at least, the roads will still be ruled by vehicles driven by people, not by robots.
“The computer that is in our heads is stronger than any manmade computer,” said Serfaty. He added, however, that the entire automotive industry is currently in an “arms race” to build a car with autonomous capabilities, and that the competition between the manufacturers is shortening the timetable to the target.
Serfaty said Mobileye is in a good position in this race. “The fact that we are working with many customers and that we are present in almost every new car in the world positions us at a good starting point to achieve the target. When you are already inside the car and warning that you are deviating from the lane or can brake independently, and gather data, your starting point is better compared with someone who has not yet entered the industry,” he said.
At a parallel panel of high-tech automotive companies, Onn Haran, co-founder and chief technology officer Autotalks, a developer of vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communications technologies for smart cars, said automatic vehicle-to-vehicle communications will revolutionize road safety by enabling vehicles to identify hazards around them, even if they are outside the driver’s field of vision.
Haran predicts that this technology will be installed in vehicles slated to go on US roads from 2019, following measures by the US regulator, in parallel with progress in the European Union. He said that V2X is a critical support for establishing the autonomous car, because all the sensors, which currently permit autonomous movement, have physical limitations. Inter-vehicle communications will make it possible to obtain information in advance, before it comes into the driver field of view, and will allow better integration in motion with surrounding vehicles.
Aviv Cohen, Nexar vice-president for B2B products and marketing, proposed another safety solution at Cars 2017: a network of mobile phones in every car, which connect drivers, developed by the company. Drivers connected to the network use an app on their mobile phones to film the road ahead. The data is uploaded on to the cloud, and a special algorithm identifies hazards via a dash cam and warns drivers. It creates a database that makes it possible to warn other users of the network on the road to rate the hazard for safety, take reconstruction photographs of accidents, reduce insurance costs and so forth, on top of fleet management applications. Cohen said the company’s network already connects thousands of drivers in Tel Aviv, New York City and San Francisco, and that the company’s business model is based on use of the database.
Argus Cyber Security Marketing Manager Jesse Sultanik said that vehicle inter-connectivity has great road safety potential, but that such systems were also very exposed to outside hacking. “Like every computer linked to the internet, cars linked to the internet are exposed to malicious hacking,” he said. He added that while the threats exist and even though there is no magic solution to block 100 percent of attacks, security systems like the one offered by Argus to carmakers and which are already installed in the basic planning stage of new cars, are essential.
At the conference, Engie founder and CEO Yarden Gross presented a smart solution designed to bring transparency to the repairs and routine maintenance of vehicles. The company’s technology connects the vehicle’s management computer to the driver’s smartphone app, notifying the driver in real time of malfunctions, their severity and possible solutions. At the same time, it can obtain and compare quotes from garages at the press of a button.