WCX17 in the News

• “4 big challenges facing engineers,” Automotive News

DETROIT — A silver Ford Fusion on display at SAE International’s World Congress Experience here said it all.

Looking a bit like a science experiment, with twin lidar systems on the A-pillars, cameras embedded in the roof rails and a trunk stuffed full of computers, cables and communications equipment, the Fusion showed that no part of the car will be left untouched in the drive to create a Level 5 autonomous vehicle, capable of driving itself with no human involvement.

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 • “Kicking tires, in virtual reality,” Automotive News

DETROIT — Several automakers are pursuing the idea of an augmented-reality, self-guided tour of a shiny new crossover or sports car at dealerships. Engineering research groups independently are also working on and refining approaches to that virtual-reality goal.

John Kelly Villota Pismag, a graduate research assistant at the University of Michigan-Dearborn and a member of the Rawashdeh Research Group there, presented a paper titled “Augmented Reality for Improved Dealership User Experience” at SAE International’s WCX17 World Congress Experience on Wednesday.

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• “Honda’s 10-speed, fwd gearbox breaks new ground on packaging front,” Automotive News

DETROIT — When the 2018 redesigned and re-engineered Honda Odyssey minivan arrives this spring, two models will be available with the industry’s first 10-speed automatic transmission in a front-wheel-drive vehicle.

The lightweight, compact gearbox, on display this week at WCX17, SAE International’s annual conference, is expected to propel Honda to the front of the pack in fuel economy in the segment, said Tom Sladek, Honda’s powertrain development leader.

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 • “Ford says self-driving cars on track for 2021,” The Detroit News

Ford’s vice president of research and advanced engineering sees a “fully autonomous vehicle” as a ride-service option on public roads by 2021. Private owners will get their hands on them five to 10 years later, Ken Washington believes.

“At Ford, we are working very aggressively to make this a reality by 2021 by bringing many of the technologies we’ve spoken about, like advanced sensors and the ability to think in computer space like we think as humans to identify objects and make complex decisions … to a level-four ride service … ,” he told automotive engineers at the annual SAE International World Congress on Tuesday.

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• “The Ford GT Was Born To Avenge The Death Of A Secret Mustang That Never Made It,” Jalopnik

Well, the new Ford GT just got about a hundred times cooler. It turns out that the new mid-engine supercar was made to avenge the death of ‘Project Silver,’ a quarter-million dollar Mustang race car that was canceled before it saw the light of day.

This unbelievably vengeful origin story comes straight from the mouth of the guy who oversaw the new Ford GT program, Raj Nair. At the SAE International’s WCX conference in Detroit yesterday, Nair recounted how he initially supported the Mustang as the car Ford would use to take on Le Mans, but his superiors killed the program.

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 • “Ford Exec: You Won’t Be Able to Buy a Driverless Car Until After 2025,” Motor Trend

Although Ford said it would deliver fully autonomous cars to ride-sharing services by 2021, the automaker has yet to reveal a specific timeline for the consumer adoption of its driverless technology. In a new report, a Ford executive offers up a slightly more precise estimate for when we might expect to purchase an autonomous car.

Consumers will be able to buy a fully autonomous vehicle sometime between 2026 and 2031, says Ken Washington, Ford’s vice president of research and advanced engineering. “It’s really hard to guess and predict the pace of the technology,” he said during his keynote address at the SAE WCX World Congress Experience. “Our current view is the adoption rates will be relatively gradual.”

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• “8 schools will try to build self-driving Chevrolet Bolts in 3 years,” Roadshow by CNET

Universities are hotbeds of cutting-edge research, and are thusly equipped to do some incredible things. GM hopes that, with its help, it can make those things happen on a short timeframe.

GM and SAE International announced the eight finalists that will compete in the AutoDrive Challenge at the SAE World Congress Experience in Detroit. The finalists are, in no particular order: Kettering University, Virginia Tech, Michigan State University, University of Waterloo, Michigan Tech, University of Toronto, North Carolina A&T University and Texas A&M University.

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“Ex-DOT chief calls Trump’s review of MPG rules a ‘setback,'” USA Today

DETROIT — The decision to restart the review process of automotive emissions standards by the Trump administration is a possible “setback” for efforts to curtail climate change, Anthony Foxx, former secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation, said Wednesday.

Foxx, who served as transportation secretary from 2013 to 2017, played a key role in positioning the federal government as a stricter regulator of the automotive industry.

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• “Auto Industry ‘Where It’s At,’ Executives Say,” WardsAuto

DETROIT – The automobile industry these days increasingly prefers the open collar to a necktie and it is not just fashion statement, leading executives say, but a cultural shift steadily making engineering jobs in Detroit and Stuttgart more attractive to young talent previously drawn to the laidback lure of Silicon Valley.

“It’s on the way back,” says General Motors Vice President and Chief Technology Officer Jon Lauckner, who also heads the automaker’s venture-capital arm where he has an umpire’s view of startup and investment activity. “People are rediscovering the auto industry.”

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 • “Reach Beyond Career Comfort Zone, Ford Exec Says,” WardsAuto

DETROIT – The auto industry needs sharp, young, female engineers, and the recruiting cannot begin soon enough for Kimberly Pittel, a 32-year Ford veteran engineer who worked her way up from the plant floor to a group vice presidency.

“We’re trying to hit it at the elementary level, the junior-high level, because high school is too late. College is too late,” says Pittel, who now oversees Sustainability, Environment & Safety Engineering at Ford. “So we have programs globally that are setting up fun math and science and engineering events to encourage young girls to get engaged and stay engaged.”

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• “Panelists: Sharing, Autonomy Will Help More Than Hurt Industry, Society,” WardsAuto

DETROIT – Executives from ride-hailing and -sharing services Uber, Lyft, Maven and Zipcar say they are friends, not foes, of the auto industry.

Speaking at a 2017 SAE World Congress Experience mobility discussion here, all agree ride-hailing, ride-sharing and car-sharing largely will be an urban phenomenon for the time being, with individual car ownership, the bread-and-butter of the industry, not yet an endangered species.

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• “Baidu smart car debut SAE global automotive annual meeting,” xcar.com.cn (China)

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