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Apple targets car production by 2024 and eyes ‘next level’ battery technology

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By Stephen Nellis, Norihiko Shirouzu, Paul Lienert

NEW DELHI:Apple Inc is moving forward with self-driving car technology and is targeting 2024 to produce a passenger vehicle that could include its own breakthrough battery technology, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The iPhone maker’s automotive efforts, known as Project Titan, have proceeded unevenly since 2014 when it first started to design its own vehicle from scratch. At one point, Apple drew back the effort to focus on software and reassessed its goals. Doug Field, an Apple veteran who had worked at Tesla Inc, returned to oversee the project in 2018 and laid off 190 people from the team in 2019.

Since then, Apple has progressed enough that it now aims to build a vehicle for consumers, two people familiar with the effort said, asking not to be named because Apple’s plans are not public. Apple’s goal of building a personal vehicle for the mass market contrasts with rivals such as Alphabet Inc’s Waymo, which has built robo-taxis to carry passengers for a driverless ride-hailing service.

Central to Apple’s strategy is a new battery design that could “radically” reduce the cost of batteries and increase the vehicle’s range, according to a third person who has seen Apple’s battery design.

Apple declined to comment on its plans or future products.

Making a vehicle represents a supply chain challenge even for Apple, a company with deep pockets that makes hundreds of millions of electronics products each year with parts from around the world, but has never made a car. It took Elon Musk’s Tesla 17 years before it finally turned a sustained profit making cars.

“If there is one company on the planet that has the resources to do that, it’s probably Apple. But at the same time, it’s not a cellphone,” said a person who worked on Project Titan.

It remains unclear who would assemble an Apple-branded car, but sources have said they expect the company to rely on a manufacturing partner to build vehicles. And there is still a chance Apple will decide to reduce the scope of its efforts to an autonomous driving system that would be integrated with a car made by a traditional automaker, rather than the iPhone maker selling an Apple-branded car, one of the people added.

Two people with knowledge of Apple’s plans warned pandemic-related delays could push the start of production into 2025 or beyond.

Shares of Tesla ended 6.5% lower on Monday after their debut in the S&P 500 on Monday. Apple shares ended 1.24% higher after the news.

Apple has decided to tap outside partners for elements of the system, including lidar sensors, which help self-driving cars get a three-dimensional view of the road, two people familiar with the company’s plans said.

Apple’s car might feature multiple lidar sensors for scanning different distances, another person said. Some sensors could be derived from Apple’s internally developed lidar units, that person said. Apple’s iPhone 12 Pro and iPad Pro models released this year both feature lidar sensors.

Reuters had previously reported that Apple had held talks with potential lidar suppliers, but it was also examining building its own sensor.

As for the car’s battery, Apple plans to use a unique “monocell” design that bulks up the individual cells in the battery and frees up space inside the battery pack by eliminating pouches and modules that hold battery materials, one of the people said.

Apple’s design means that more active material can be packed inside the battery, giving the car a potentially longer range. Apple is also examining a chemistry for the battery called LFP, or lithium iron phosphate, the person said, which is inherently less likely to overheat and is thus safer than other types of lithium-ion batteries.

”It’s next level,” the person said of Apple’s battery technology. “Like the first time you saw the iPhone.”

Apple had previously engaged Magna International Inc in talks about manufacturing a car, but the talks petered out as Apple’s plans became unclear, a person familiar with those previous efforts said. Magna did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

To turn a profit, automotive contract manufacturers often ask for volumes that could pose a challenge even to Apple, which would be a newcomer to the automotive market.

“In order to have a viable assembly plant, you need 100,000 vehicles annually, with more volume to come,” the person said.

Some Apple investors reacted to the Reuters report on the company’s plans with caution. Trip Miller, managing partner at Apple investor Gullane Capital Partners, said it could be tough for Apple to produce large volumes of cars out of the gate.

“It would seem to me that if Apple develops some advanced operating system or battery technology, it would be best utilized in a partnership with an existing manufacturer under license,” Miller said. “As we see with Tesla and the legacy auto companies, having a very complex manufacturing network around the globe doesn’t happen overnight.”

Hal Eddins, chief economist at Apple shareholder Capital Investment Counsel, said Apple has a history of higher margins than most automakers.

“My initial reaction as a shareholder is, huh?” Eddins said. “Still don’t really see the appeal of the car business, but Apple may be eyeing another angle than what I’m seeing.”

Source: Reuters, Reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco, Norihiko Shirouzu in Beijing; and Paul Lienert and Ben Klayman in Detroit; editing by Jonathan Weber, Edward Tobin and Sonya Hepinstall

 

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Narendra Modi inaugurates India’s first 5G testbed; says aims to roll out 6G end of decade

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NEW DELHI: India is targeting the rollout of 6G telecom network, which will provide ultra high speed internet connectivity, by the end of the decade, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday.

India currently has 3G and 4G telecom networks and companies are gearing up to launch 5G over the next few months.

Speaking at the silver jubilee event of telecom sector regulator TRAI here, he said it is estimated that the 5G network rollout will add USD 450 billion to the Indian economy.

“This is not just increasing internet speed but also the pace of development and creating jobs,” he said, adding the 5G technology will bring positive change in governance of the country, ease of living and ease of doing business.

It will boost growth in agriculture, health, education, infrastructure and logistics, he said.

Connectivity, Modi said, will decide the progress of the country in the 21st century and so modern day infrastructure needs to be rolled out.

According to the prime minister, a task force has started work on rolling out 6G network by the end of the decade.

Taking potshots at the previous Congress-led UPA government, Modi said the 2G era was symbolic of policy paralysis and corruption.

The country, under his government, has moved transparently to 4G and is now going to 5G.

Teledensity and internet users are fast expanding, he said, adding that mobile manufacturing units in India have expanded from 2 to over 200 and the country is now the world’s biggest mobile manufacturing hub.

The prime minister also said that his government has encouraged healthy competition that has led to India having one of the cheapest telecom data charges in the world.

Indigenous 5G test bed in telecom sector is an important step in India’s self-reliance, he added.

PM Modi virtually inaugurates India’s first 5G testbed costing Rs 220 crore

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday inaugurated the country’s first 5G testbed to enable startups and industry players to test and validate their products locally and reduce dependence on foreign facilities.

The testbed has been set up at a cost of around Rs 220 crore. Speaking at the silver jubilee celebrations of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), the Prime Minister said the 5G testbed is an important step for self-reliance in the direction of critical and modern technologies.

“I invite youth friends, researchers and companies to utilise the testing facility for making 5G technology,” Modi said.

The 5G testbed has been developed as a multi-institute collaborative project by eight institutes led by IIT Madras.

In the absence of a 5G testbed, startups and other industry players were required to go abroad to test and validate their products for installation in a 5G network.

The other institutes that participated in the project are IIT Delhi, IIT Hyderabad, IIT Bombay, IIT Kanpur, IISc Bangalore, Society for Applied Microwave Electronics Engineering & Research (SAMEER) and Centre of Excellence in Wireless Technology (CEWiT).

The testbed facility will be available at 5 different locations.

Source: Press Trust of India

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Airtel joins hands Tech Mahindra

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NEW DELHI: Bharti Airtel (Airtel), India’s premier communications solutions provider, and Tech Mahindra, a leading provider of digital transformation, consulting and business re-engineering services and solutions, today announced a strategic partnership to build and market innovative solutions for India’s digital economy by bringing together their core strengths.

Airtel and Tech Mahindra will co-develop and market 5G use cases in India. Airtel has been spearheading 5G demos and testing in India while Tech Mahindra has developed world-class 5G applications and platforms. Airtel and Tech Mahindra will set up a joint 5G innovation lab for developing Make in India use cases for the Indian and global markets.

The two companies will also bring to market customized Enterprise Grade Private Networks, which will be at the core of the digital economy. These solutions will focus on combining Airtel’s industry leading integrated connectivity portfolio of 5G ready mobile network, Fiber, SDWAN, and IoT along with Tech Mahindra’s proven system integration capabilities. The companies will initially focus on segments such as Automobiles, Aviation, Ports, Utilities, Chemicals, Oil & Gas and expand to other industries going forward.

Airtel and Tech Mahindra will also offer secure Cloud and Content Delivery Network (CDN) solutions to businesses. With enterprises rapidly moving to cloud based platforms as part of their digital transformation journeys, Airtel has built a formidable Hybrid Cloud portfolio with Airtel Cloud, Airtel IQ (CPaaS) alongside CDN offerings. Further, the two companies will explore leveraging Tech Mahindra’s technological expertise to support Airtel in Cloud Engineering, implementation of tools for Cloud Orchestration.

Ganesh Lakshminarayanan, CEO-Enterprise Business, Bharti Airtel said: “Airtel and Tech Mahindra have a shared vision of supporting the growth of India’s digital ecosystem. We are delighted to join forces with Tech Mahindra to bring to market a range of cutting-edge digital solutions for the emerging requirements of enterprises. With proven technology capabilities and deep customer trust enjoyed by the two brands, we believe this is a win-win partnership.”

Manish Vyas, President, Communications, Media and Entertainment Business, and CEO, Network Services, Tech Mahindra, said: “5G ecosystem will unlock immense opportunities for industries across sectors to improve productivity and enhance customer experience through digitally powered new-age platforms and solutions. We are excited to partner with Airtel to provide innovative and cutting-edge solutions for enterprise customers. In line with Tech Mahindra’s NXT.NOWTM framework, this collaboration is focused on offering next-generation services to the Indian market by enabling transformation via network, cloud engineering and customer experience.”

As part of NXT.NOWTM framework, which aims to provide ‘Seamless Customer Experience’, Tech Mahindra focuses on investing in emerging technologies and solutions that enable digital transformation and meet the evolving needs of changing customers.

 

 

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3 Scandinavia expands 5G footprint with Enea’s policy control technology

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NEW DELHI: 3 Scandinavia, a leading provider of voice and broadband services, has deployed Enea’s 5G policy control solution as it continues to expand its 5G footprint. The solution will allow 3 Scandinavia to effectively launch, manage, and monetize new services in Sweden and Denmark.

Enea’s powerful policy platform will allow the Nordic network provider to differentiate services and ensure that all subscribers benefit from a consistent quality of service to match their chosen pricing plans.

Enea’s policy management platform, a fully virtualized, multi-vendor solution, has provided 4G policy control functionality for 3 Scandinavia since 2008. As the operator looked to scale its capabilities with virtualized architecture, it turned to Enea for 5G policy control. Enea’s platform delivers robust connectivity and cost-effective service management while bringing operational agility through its tight integration with provisioning systems. It is also vendor agnostic, which means that the operator has the freedom to work with any network access provider and can configure new types of 4G and 5G services in a matter of minutes.

“We are always striving to offer innovative services that appeal to our growing base of subscribers,” says Per Stigenberg, CTO at 3 Scandinavia. “In today’s world of stream-based entertainment and hybrid working, this means taking full advantage of everything 5G has to offer. Enea has demonstrated a thorough understanding of our needs and with their flexible product approach we are now able to deliver a next-generation connectivity experience for all our subscribers in Sweden and Denmark”

The solution from Enea also enables the operator to effectively manage several of its virtual Policy Control Functions (PCFs) across two physical locations in Scandinavia. With Enea’s platform deployed, 3 Scandinavia can efficiently support fully redundant 5G voice and data services throughout both Sweden and Denmark, allowing the operator to seamlessly control policies as subscribers move between 4G and 5G, and across their networks.

“Policy control is very much the brains of the operation when it comes to providing cellular services to millions of subscribers,” says Jonas Jacobsson, Senior Vice President of Service Provider Sales at Enea. “Without it, there is simply no way to differentiate service in terms of data allowance or speed, particularly with 5G where these configurations become even more granular.”

A report from Deloitte found that the number of 5G subscribers in Scandinavia has more than doubled in the past two years. As networks grow, policy plays a critical role to help operators scale and monetize 5G.

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