Chinese firms prepare for 2021 deployment of automated trucking systems

Nov. 20, 2020
BlackBerry QNX technology helps manage autonomous system data flow from sensors to prediction technology and to the actuation that controls vehicle movement.

In this week’s roundup from the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, which highlights some of the latest news and headlines in unmanned vehicles and robotics, the automated truck developed Plus chooses new safety software,  NASA chooses a partner for Urban Air Mobility applications, and Walmart launches a pilot drone program for coronavirus test kit delivery.

Plus selects BlackBerry technology for its automated driving system for Class 8 trucks

Plus has selected BlackBerry Limited’s QNX technology for the global commercial deployment of its automated driving system for Class 8 trucks.

Plus is the first automated truck developer to use BlackBerry QNX technology for its next-generation self-driving systems. The systems are expected to be commercialized and deployed beginning in 2021 by Plus and FAW, which is China’s largest heavy-duty truck maker. In the next two years, Plus also plans to deploy thousands of intelligent, automated trucks in the US.

“Self-driving systems consist of the most complex and powerful software and hardware to go into a Class 8 truck. Every technology choice we make has to contribute to the overall safety and security of heavy-duty trucks integrated with the Plus automated driving system. The operating system is an important foundation for the rest of the system,” explains Shawn Kerrigan, COO and co-founder, Plus.

“Our engineering team has done an exceptional job in completing the transition to the industry’s highest standard of safety-certified technology as we move from product development to commercial deployment.”

BlackBerry will license its ISO 26262 ASIL-D safety-certified QNX OS for Safety software solution to Plus as part of the agreement. This licensing will further strengthen the technology foundation the company has built to create a safe and secure automated driving system.

QNX OS for Safety is based on the QNX Neutrino Real-time Operating System (RTOS). Embedded software developers around the world use QNX OS for Safety for mission-critical systems in medical devices, industrial controls, rail, robotics and aerospace and defense.

The foundation for functionalities of a self-driving truck, a certified automotive operating system helps manage the autonomous system data flow from sensors to prediction technology and finally to the actuation that controls the movement.

According to Plus, optimizing this data flow can also help to speed up the image processing, machine learning and other algorithms that are needed for the automated driving system to work. Plus says that it will be able to work more quickly with its OEM and fleet partners to continue the commercial rollout of its automated driving system thanks to the transition to the safety-certified QNX OS for Safety, along with other enterprise technology that the company has adopted.

Wisk, NASA partner to safely integrate autonomous aircraft systems into UAM applications at national level

Urban Air Mobility (UAM) company Wisk is partnering with NASA to focus on the safe integration of autonomous aircraft systems into Urban Air Mobility applications at a national level.

The partnership is part of NASA's Advanced Air Mobility National Campaign strategy to develop key guidance for UAM operations. To accelerate U.S. leadership in emerging automated aviation technology, the partnership will also address key challenges such as certification and standards development.

Initially, the partnership will address critical National Campaign safety scenarios, with a focus on autonomous flight and contingency management, including collision avoidance and flight path management.

Through the partnership, NASA and Wisk plan on executing optimized opportunities to evaluate architectures, perform simulation studies, and develop an overall validation framework that can be leveraged for autonomous flight assessments. This will be done in close cooperation with industry standards organizations, and it might include guidance on airspace structure, flight procedures, minimum performance requirements for participating aircraft, and standards that will influence the evolution of autonomous systems.

“Our partnership with NASA will bring together our market-leading expertise in autonomy with the unmatched technical capabilities of NASA,” says Gary Gysin, CEO of Wisk.

“The frameworks and recommendations developed through this collaboration will not only advance autonomous passenger flight but also increase the overall safety of aviation.”

Walmart launches drone pilot program in El Paso, Texas

Walmart, Quest Diagnostics and Drone Up have partnered to deliver coronavirus testing kits to homes in an El Paso, Texas neighborhood. The flights began on Tuesday, Nov. 17.

The testing kit comes equipped with a self-administered nasal swab that patients can administer in their homes. After administering the swab, patients use a pre-paid shipping envelope to ship the sample to a Quest Diagnostics lab, and await their results online.

Single family-homes within a 1.5-mile radius of the east side Walmart store are eligible to take part in the pilot program. El Paso is one of the few cities to have this program available.

“To be the third community in the country to have this is phenomenal. It’s a reflection on who we are and our region in the state of Texas and in the nation,” says El Paso Mayor Dee Margo.

COVID-19 testing numbers are on the rise in El Paso, so Margo hopes the service will provide more testing.

“As we head into Thanksgiving, number one, please don’t have large gatherings in your home. Number two, please don’t go to Mexico if you don’t have to. It’s just imperative right now that you stay here,” Margo adds.

The drone program will be available while supplies last Monday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Compiled by Brian Sprowl, Associate Editor, AUVSI

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