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DENSO International America, Inc. has invested in TriLumina Corp., a semiconductor laser technology company that focuses on providing light sources for LiDAR and interior illumination products. DENSO is looking to speed up the adoption of LiDAR and driver monitoring technologies in advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and in autonomous vehicles. This strategic investment will enable TriLumina to gain broader access to the automotive market. The laser technology company also received an investment last year from Caterpillar Ventures. TriLumina has developed eye-safe semiconductor lasers that are among the most versatile laser illuminator solutions available in the market. TriLumina is hoping to accelerate the automotive industry’s adoption of semi-autonomous and autonomous vehicles by providing lasers for 100% solid-state LiDAR products and advanced driver monitoring systems (DMS). In addition to LiDAR and DMS in ADAS, TriLumina is targeting depth sensing and gesture control for the industrial robotics, commercial and consumer electronics markets. It’s critical to work with leading Tier 1 suppliers like DENSO as we introduce and deploy technology that will shape the automotive industry for years to come. It’s a tremendous endorsement of our technology to have DENSO engage as one of our Tier 1 partners, work with us to become qualified, and help fuel development. TriLumina has developed unique architecture for two-dimensional arrays of Vertical Cavity Surface Emitting Lasers (VCSELs) that allow for simultaneous high-power output and high-bandwidth modulation. The arrays use integrated micro-lenses for beam shaping and control, and to enable incoherent beam combining to make compact, high-brightness sources with low coherence noise. In our approach to VCSEL array technology we use flip-chip bonding that employs a sub-mount. Here, the VCSEL die is constructed in gallium arsenide, then flip-chip bonded to a ceramic or silicon sub-mount that has patterned metal on its surface. Each of the individual VCSEL elements that make up the array is formed by a mesa structure … The anodes of the individual VCSEL elements are connected to the common sub-mount anode pad via solder bumps that are reflowed to the anode metallization of the sub-mount. The VCSEL elements are designed to emit light through the back of the substrate at wavelengths in the 905 to 980 nm range. A useful feature of this approach is that micro-lenses can be etched in the emission side of the substrate. These can be used to collimate and/or manipulate the combined array of light beams. The cathode side of the array is connected to the common cathode of the sub-mount by a set of common shorted solder bumps. The metal patterns of the sub-mount are arranged to form an impedance-matched electrical waveguide structure … This enables the array to be modulated at higher speeds than could be obtained if the VCSEL elements were added as discrete, individual parts … The ability to integrate micro-lenses into the emission side of the laser die provides a powerful capability for beam shaping and manipulation. TriLumina’s VCSEL configuration, with light passing through the substrate in a back-emitting design that is coupled with high-speed circuits, results in a smaller, less-expensive laser source well-suited to requirements of flash lidar applications, explained John Joseph, TriLumina founder, in a 2015 article in Laser Focus World. Flash LiDAR uses high-speed pulsed laser flashes, and triggers a time that counts the time it takes for each pixel of a focal plane array or timed camera to respond to the infrared light pulse. DENSO’s Silicon Valley office actively works with startup companies, and through these types of partnerships expects to gain access to new technologies in the areas of autonomous drive, electric vehicles, transportation, batteries, and energy storage while also expanding DENSO’s overall presence and visibility within entrepreneurial networks.


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« Tesla Model 3 reservations top 325,000; Tesla projects average price ~$43,000 | Main | DENSO invests in semiconductor laser technology startup TriLumina; speeding up LiDAR adoption for ADAS, autonomous driving » The California Energy Commission has released a $17.3-million solicitation (GFO-15-605) for publicly accessible hydrogen refueling stations that serve California’s light duty fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). The Energy Commission will make available two categories of Capital Expense (Cap-X) funding. Operation and Maintenance (O&M) funding is also available for stations whose capital expenses are funded under this solicitation. This solicitation places a preference on hydrogen refueling stations that fill hydrogen refueling station coverage gaps and hydrogen refueling capacity gaps in California. The O&M support grant category is a first-come, first-served grant category. Applicants/projects meeting the minimum eligibility criteria for operation and maintenance support grants will be recommended for funding. Only stations receiving a Capital Expense (Cap-X) grant award under this solicitation are eligible for an O&M Support Grant under this solicitation. The Energy Commission expects to recommend funding for all O&M support grants supporting funded stations under this solicitation. The Cap-X grants are competitive grant competitions. Applicants passing administrative and technical screening will compete based on evaluation criteria, and will be scored based on those criteria. The highest ranked, eligible applications will be recommended for funding. The Energy Commission strongly prefers and encourages Applicants to expedite stations becoming operational to the greatest extent possible. Stations becoming operational within 20 months after approval will earn full funding incentives. An open retail hydrogen refueling station has all of the following characteristics and meets all of the following requirements: The SAE J2601 H70-T40 open retail station shall conform to all applicable codes, regulations, and approved interface standards (fueling protocols, fuel quality, metrology, and permits). The SAE J2601 H70-T40 open retail station shall use a public point of sale terminal that accepts major credit, debit, and fleet cards. The SAE J2601 H70-T40 open retail station shall be open to the public, meaning no access cards or personal identification (PIN) codes are required for the station to dispense fuel, and no formal or registered station training shall be required for individuals to use the hydrogen refueling station. The SAE J2601 H70-T40 open retail station shall meet all of the minimum technical requirements. The open retail hydrogen refueling station funded under this solicitation shall remain functioning for a minimum of five years after becoming open retail.


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« ClipperCreek introduces new power-sharing EV charging stations; Share2 | Main | DENSO looks to increase holding in FUJITSU TEN, making it a group company » Ford is acquiring Chariot, a San Francisco-based crowd-sourced shuttle service, and is collaborating with bike-sharing provider Motivate to launch Ford GoBike, expanding its transportation solutions in city centers. Ford also is establishing a new City Solutions team to work with cities around the world on their transportation needs. Ford’s acquisition of Chariot, subject to normal customary closing conditions, will serve as the cornerstone for its new global shuttle services business. The shuttle service is expected to be expanded beyond San Francisco to at least five additional markets in the next 18 months. Started in 2014, Chariot operates nearly 100 Ford Transit shuttles along 28 routes throughout San Francisco Bay Area. Today, Chariot’s routes are crowd-sourced based on rider demand. In the future, they will operate dynamically—using data algorithms to map efficient routes to best serve the real-time mobility needs of communities. The Chariot shuttles complement mass transit by filling the gap between taxi and bus services, providing an on-demand, point-to-point transportation option that is convenient, efficient and cost-effective. For every one dynamic shuttle that is placed into service during peak travel times, urban congestion could be reduced by up to 25 fewer vehicles, according to a private study for Ford conducted by KPMG. Bikes are another important mode of transportation for commuters in the San Francisco Bay Area. Ford and Motivate, a global leader in bike share, are working with city officials to add new stations and increase the number of bikes to 7,000 in the Bay Area by the end of 2018. When it launches next year, Ford GoBike will be accessed by users through the FordPass platform. Ford plans to develop technologies to use data collected from the bikes to build an interconnected mobility network. This could include real-time data, such as weather conditions, usage patterns and bike availability, to optimize commutes. We’re expanding our business to be both an auto and a mobility company, and partnering with cities on current and future transportation needs is the next major step. For more than 100 years, Ford has been part of the community and the trusted source for automotive transportation. Now, we want to work with communities to offer even more transportation choices and solutions for people – for decades to come. Today, half the world’s population lives in cities. By 2030, that number is expected to grow to 60 percent. As city populations grow, the challenges tied to moving people and goods around become tougher. Ford is committed to being part of the solution. Cities globally are dealing with increased congestion, a growing middle class and environmental issues—all of which can be alleviated by developing mobility solutions fine-tuned to the unique challenges of each location. At the same time, by expanding our business model to include new forms of transportation—from bikes to dynamic shuttles and more—we are introducing new customers to Ford and creating new revenue and profit opportunities for the future. Ford also is establishing its new City Solutions team to work with cities on expanding mobility services worldwide as part of Ford Smart Mobility LLC. John Kwant—who has worked with several global cities during his Ford career as part of the company’s government affairs and global strategy teams—has been tapped to lead the effort as vice president, Ford City Solutions. The team will address the reality that each city’s transportation ecosystem has evolved over time and poses a unique set of transportation challenges. Through a joint discovery process, Ford City Solutions will work with municipalities to propose, pilot and develop mobility solutions tailored to the community. Discussions are already under way with several global cities.


« Audi leads $28M Series C round in Silvercar; developing Audi Shared Fleet | Main | GM to invest $500M in Lyft; creating integrated network of on-demand autonomous vehicles » Automotive Grade Linux (AGL), a collaborative open source project developing a common, Linux-based software stack for the connected car, announced that Subaru (Fuji Heavy Industries, Ltd.), Mitsubishi Motors, Mazda Motor Corporation and Ford Motor Company are joining The Linux Foundation and AGL. Ford Motor Company is the first US car manufacturer to join AGL. These latest automakers join existing members Toyota Motor Corporation, Nissan Motor Company Ltd. and Linux Foundation board member Jaguar Land Rover. AGL also announced a new Unified Code Base (UCB) distribution built specifically for the automotive industry. This new Linux distribution was built from the ground-up to address automotive-specific applications and leverages the best software components from AGL and other existing open source projects such as Tizen and GENIVI Alliance. Members. AGL also announced that Toyota Motor Corporation, Panasonic Corporation, DENSO CORPORATION, and Renesas Electronics are upgrading to the Platinum level, while NTT DATA MSE is upgrading to the Gold level. The increased financial commitment will go primarily toward software development activities within the AGL open-source project. AGL has four classes of corporate membership: Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze. AGL has more than 50 members representing leading car manufacturers, auto suppliers, system integrators and OSVs that are actively collaborating on the AGL Unified Code Base Linux Distribution also announced today. Unified Code Base. AGL suggests that by customizing the distribution to meet specific automotive requirements, its new UCB distribution is in a position to become the de facto standard for the industry, allowing developers and carmakers to leverage a software stack based on Linux for creating in-vehicle software. Automakers and suppliers are able to collaborate directly with AGL’s global community of developers to advance the software for connected car applications. Several members of AGL, including Toyota, Aisin AW, DENSO, Fujitsu Ten, HARMAN, Panasonic, Pioneer and Renesas Electronics are planning to use the AGL Unified Code Base distribution to deliver a modern in-vehicle infotainment and connected car experience for consumers. Jaguar Land Rover, a Linux Foundation board member, also delivers a Linux-based infotainment system in its vehicles. Although initially focused on In-Vehicle-Infotainment (IVI), the new distribution has been architected to allow different profiles to be created from the same code base to address all applications in the car, such as instrument cluster, heads up display, telematics and connected car. Suited for deploying “smart car” navigation, communications, safety, security, and infotainment functionality, the AGL UCB distribution is supported by a broad community of participants from the automotive, communications, and semiconductor Industries as well as individual developers. Based on the Yocto Project, a complete embedded Linux development environment with tools, metadata, and documentation, the new AGL distribution includes: The AGL distribution initially supports the following platforms, with more to be added in the coming months: AGL UCB, which is hosted on Linux Foundation servers and open to anyone, is available for download here At CES 2016, the AGL UCB will be featured as part of the GENIVI CES 2016 Demonstration Showcase in the Trump International Hotel. Demo applications for navigation, HVAC control, radio, media player and browser, settings and home screen are on display this week. AGL has also released a White Paper that addresses Linux Security in the Connected Car.


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« New FordPass service allows booking and pre-paying for parking | Main | DENSO enters into AI technical advisory conntract with CMU Professor Take Kanade » We’ve gone electric, and there’s no going back at this point. Lithium is our new fuel, but like fossil fuels, the reserves we’re currently tapping into are finite—and that’s what investors can take to the bank. You may think lithium got too popular too fast. You may suspect electric vehicles are too much buzz and not enough real future. You may, in short, be a lithium skeptic, one of many. And yet, despite this skepticism, lithium demand is rising steadily and sharply, and indications that a shortage may be looming are very real. It won’t be a shortage in terms of ‘peak lithium’; rather, it will be a game of catch-up with the electric car boom, with miners hustling to explore and tap into new reserves. Consider the number of battery gigafactories that are being built around the world. We have all heard about Tesla’s Nevada facility that will at full capacity produce enough batteries to power 500,000 electric cars per year by 2020. This, as the carmaker proudly notes, is more than the global total lithium ion battery production for 2013. That’s a pretty impressive rate of demand growth over just three years—but this growth also represents the culmination of a sea change in the way we think. Lithium is powering pretty much everything upon which our present depends on and our future is being built. It’s a viable alternative to petrol and in consumer electronics market segment alone, there is no sign of contraction—only expansion. Think the Internet of things, or smart houses, or smart cities, eventually. All these fascinating ideas are powered in some way by lithium. But the real and present coup has been launched by electric vehicles. Forecasts from market research firms seem to be unanimous: EVs are on the rise, EVs are hot, and EVs will be increasingly in demand as people all over the world are eagerly encouraged to cut their carbon footprint. According to Lux Research, the EV market will grow to $10 billion within the next four years. Navigant Research forecasts EV sales will rise from 2.6 million last year to more than 6 million in 2024. So, whether we like it or not, EVs are coming—and in force. Indeed, says Nevada Energy Metals executive Malcolm Bell, “It may be time to start worrying about a shortage, but it's not a question of whether we have enough lithium—it's a question of tapping into new reserves. Those who don’t see the supply wall looming, will hit with a resounding thud. Those who start tapping into new reserves will be extremely well-positioned for the future.” From where everyone is standing right now, it may seem that the world's got a fair amount of lithium. According to global estimates by the U.S. Geological Survey, there is enough lithium in the world—13.5 million metric tons of it—to last us over 350 years in batteries. What’s missing from this prediction, however, is … the future, and indeed, the present. This calculation takes into account only the current rate of lithium ion battery usage. It does not account for the entrance of EVs into the mainstream. It does not account for Tesla, not to mention the growing ranks of Tesla rivals. And it most certainly doesn’t account for what is by all means a pending energy revolution that sees lithium as its leader. Already, the present is clear: Demand is growing fast, faster than production, and for now this new demand is coming increasingly from the electric vehicle industry. Tesla’s is by no means the only battery gigafactory out there. There are others being built around the world (at least 12, according to Benchmark Mineral Intelligence) and these gigafactories will raise the global demand for lithium batteries to some 122 GWh by 2020. That’s up from 35 GWh currently. It’s a phenomenal rise over a very short period of time. In the U.S., there is already one gigafactory—Tesla’s, in Nevada—operating. A second gigafactory is in the works, courtesy of LG Chem. Brine-based lithium production in the country is concentrated in one place only, at least for now, and this place is Nevada. That’s because it is the only confirmed place with lithium deposits. The biggest actively mined area is the Clayton Valley, with presence from both mining majors like Albermarle (NYSE: ALB) and smaller, pure-play lithium miners such as Nevada Energy Metals. This makes Clayton Valley ground zero for the U.S. lithium rush and everyone wants to be there, but it’s the pure play miners who are set to explode onto this scene from an investors’ perspective. Clayton Valley can hardly contain the lithium rush, and it is already time to look in the surrounding areas to secure future supply for soaring demand predictions. Those with enough foresight are diversifying their Nevada holdings and banking on geological clues that suggest there’s plenty more lithium in Tesla’s backyard, and whoever gets to it first will be far ahead of the game. “When everyone starts paying attention to Nevada’s geology, we’ll see a land rush that makes the current one pale by comparison,” says Bell, who heads of acquisitions for Nevada Energy Metals, one of the pure play movers in this playing field that sees the wider lithium potential in Nevada. “Nevada’s geothermal footprints are large and extend well beyond the Clayton Valley. If you put a mirror up to Clayton Valley, there is endless opportunity here. The real race here is to create the next U.S. lithium powerhouse,” says Bell. Look everywhere, and then look again. Securing an investment in Clayton Valley is a good place to start—but it’s also potentially only a flash in the pan. The best way to secure a foothold in lithium right now is to think outside the box and look for those companies who see the bigger picture but are also smart enough to keep one foot in the proven lithium hunting grounds. But you also have to understand the supply and demand picture here. Macquarie Research estimates that in 2015 demand for lithium already exceeded supply, while this year, lithium output will again fall short of demand. In 2017, thanks to so much new production capacity the metal’s fundamentals will near an equilibrium, which will last for about a year before deficit rears its head once again—but this time the deficit will stick. Despite new efforts to ramp up supply, it will take a while before supply corresponds to the demand. The future is pretty clear: We’re looking at a period of shortage, and shortage is where the savvy investors make real money. The lithium feeding frenzy has only just begun. Consumer electronics keeps it safe and steady, as always; the electric vehicle boom skews the demand picture dramatically, and the future’s energy storage and powerwall evolutions take it over the edge. The reserves are there, and there’s geologists estimate there’s plenty of unproven reserves out there as well—it’s just a matter of who finds them first, and who starts extracting first. Lithium has the purest of fundamentals of any ‘commodity’ out there, and the next oil barons look set to actually be lithium barons. In fact, in this respect, electric vehicles will likely be the cause of the next oil crisis. Demand and supply are simple and shockingly visible, and that means there’s a lot of new money floating around for lithium exploration. If you’re not a believer, the immediate future will sweep you off of your feet.

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