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Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi bets on spike in electric cars with 12 new models

The Japan Times

The carmakers -- who collectively sold more vehicles than any other company in the world in the first half of this year -- also announced plans to make "robo-taxis," driverless public transport vehicles and autonomous cars aimed at middle-class consumers. It wants 15 minutes of charging time to provide 230 km (140 miles) of range, up from 90 km (55 miles) of range now. Ghosn said electric car sales are growing by more than 50 percent annually in some European markets, and that his alliance is watching China's emissions policies closely. He said the carmakers aim to boost annual sales to $240 billion and to sell 14 million cars a year by 2022, up from 10 million in 2016.


Long in the works, self-driving boats may make a splash before autonomous cars

The Japan Times

Spurred in part by the car industry's race to build driverless vehicles, marine innovators are building automated ferry boats for Amsterdam canals, cargo ships that can steer themselves through Norwegian fjords and remote-controlled ships to carry containers across the Atlantic and Pacific. "We're in full autonomy now," said Jeff Gawrys, a marine technician for Boston start-up Sea Machines Robotics, sitting at the helm as the boat floated through a harbor channel. The start-up has signed a deal with an undisclosed company to install the "world's first autonomy system on a commercial containership," Johnson said this week. In Norway, fertilizer company Yara International is working with engineering firm Kongsberg Maritime on a project to replace big-rig trucks with an electric-powered ship connecting three nearby ports.


Trump camp updates U.S. self-driving car guidelines as more hit the road, paring safety assessment points

The Japan Times

ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN – The Trump administration on Tuesday unveiled updated safety guidelines for self-driving cars aimed at clearing barriers for automakers and tech companies wanting to get test vehicles on the road. The guidelines also make clear that the federal government -- not states -- determines whether autonomous vehicles are safe. There is nothing to prohibit California, for instance, from requiring human backup drivers on highly automated vehicles, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would discourage that. California, which is the only state that requires automakers to publicly report crashes of autonomous test vehicles, said Tuesday it was reviewing the new guidelines.


Honda seeks to shed bunker mentality, get its risk-taking mojo back

The Japan Times

"There's no doubt we lost our mojo -- our way as an engineering company that made Honda Honda," says Chief Executive Takahiro Hachigo. He did this, the sources added, by moving several senior posts in the tech division to corporate headquarters in Tokyo from the research and development unit, whose main automotive center is near Utsunomiya, Tochigi Prefecture. To that end the global automotive business unit, headed at the time by future CEO Ito, and the tech division decided that the redesigned Civic would use many of the same components and systems as the previous model, including the front and rear suspension systems and the front section of the car. To meet Ito's specifications, Horikoshi used cheaper materials and made the car smaller, cutting its length by 45 mm and its width by 25 mm.


Toyota, Mazda to form capital alliance to jointly develop electric vehicles

The Japan Times

NAGOYA – Toyota Motor Corp. and Mazda Motor Corp. are set to form a capital alliance to boost joint development of electric vehicles, sources close to the matter said Friday. Toyota and Mazda decided to deepen their partnership to survive the intensifying competition for developing the self-driving technology and environment-friendly vehicles, the sources said. Toyota is aiming to fully enter the EV market by 2020 and Mazda aims to start selling EVs in the United States in 2019. The influence of technology firms in the industry has also grown with Google Inc. entering the race to develop automated car technology while U.S. electric vehicle maker Tesla Motors Inc. is showing rapid growth.


Focus on self-driving vehicles distracts carmakers from lifesaving brake technology

The Japan Times

Nissan Motor Co. Ltd said Thursday it will make automatic braking systems standard on an estimated 1 million 2018-model cars and light trucks sold in the United States, including high-volume models such as the Rogue and Rogue Sport compact sport utility vehicles, the Altima sedan, Murano and Pathfinder SUVs, LEAF electric car, Maxima sedan and Sentra small car. Overall, however, most automakers are not rushing to make automatic brake systems part of the base cost of mainstream vehicles sold in the competitive U.S. market. Last year, 20 automakers reached a voluntary agreement with U.S. auto safety regulators to make collision-avoiding braking systems standard equipment by 2022. General Motors Co. offers automatic braking as optional equipment on about two-thirds of its models.


Japan sets approval criteria for driverless vehicle road tests

The Japan Times

The National Police Agency on Thursday officially adopted approval standards for tests of driverless vehicles on public roads. The standards require safety measures such as a system that stops vehicles automatically in case of emergency. The tests will require police permission because the vehicles will share the roads with ordinary vehicles. After applications for public road use are filed, police officers will ride the test vehicles to check whether their systems function properly.


Sony eyes autonomous vehicles to sustain profits from chip business

The Japan Times

The electronics giant has developed a highly sensitive CMOS image sensor for automotive cameras to more precisely interpret signals from traffic lights and tail lamps that use light-emitting diodes. Automotive cameras that respond to LED signaling are facing growing demand because cameras based on conventional sensors are less accurate. Sony's new CMOS sensor is capable of capturing high-quality images in a wide dynamic range, even in situations with striking contrast, such as when cars enter or exit tunnels in daylight, the company says. The resurgent company is logging robust sales of image sensors, mainly for smartphones in China, but it is uncertain whether the business can maintain its current profitability, the Japanese arm of U.S. rating agency Moody's Investors Service Inc. said.


California gives green light to self-driving car tests

The Japan Times

The U.S. state of California is easing its rules for autonomous car testing, by allowing testing of vehicles in which there is no human driver. "These rules expand our existing autonomous vehicle testing program to include testing vehicles where no driver is present," said DMV Director Jean Shiomoto. "This is the next step in eventually allowing driverless autonomous vehicles on California roadways." The Federal Road Safety Agency NHTSA, however, differed a few months later saying that a computer system -- based on the artificial intelligence of autonomous cars -- could be considered their "driver."


Atlanta hopes to be among candidates for self-driving auto test tracks

The Japan Times

Atlanta has sought proposals from companies for a demonstration of an autonomous vehicle on North Avenue later this year, city documents show. In Atlanta, city officials say a key goal is to create optimal conditions on North Avenue for such vehicles to operate. Court's group worked with California transportation officials as they developed rules for testing vehicles developed by Google and other companies. At one North Avenue intersection near Georgia Tech's football stadium, "students tend to jaywalk, so it can get a little bit messy over there," said Georgia Tech student Maura Currie, 19.