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Electric Vehicle Manufacturers Need Engineers With AI and Robotics Skills

University of Illinois power electronics instructor Philip Krein explains the training new hires need

3 min read
Image of an electric vehicle charging.
Photo: iStockphoto

THE INSTITUTEJust about every car manufacturer—including BMW, Ford, General Motors, Jaguar, and Toyota—has announced plans to build more electric vehicles and phase out cars with internal combustion engines. As of early 2018, automakers in Germany had invested US $52 billion in EVs, Chinese car companies $21 billion, and those in the United States at least $19 billion, according to Reuters. BloombergNEF’s 2019 Electric Vehicle Outlook predicts that EVs will make up 57 percent of passenger car sales globally by 2040.

Building tomorrow’s complex EVs, many with self-driving features, will require engineers who have sophisticated skills. A report from Boston Consulting Group and the Michigan Mobility Institute estimates the EV and autonomous-car industries could create up to 115,000 U.S. jobs in the coming decade, including 30,000 for graduates with computer-related degrees and 15,000 for those with traditional engineering training.

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Letting Robocars See Around Corners

Using several bands of radar at once can give cars a kind of second sight

10 min read
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Illustration of the modeling of a autonomous vehicle within a urban city intersection.

Seeing around the corner is simulated by modeling an autonomous vehicle approaching an urban intersection with four high-rise concrete buildings at the corners. A second vehicle is approaching the center via a crossing road, out of the AV’s line of sight, but it can be detected nonetheless through the processing of signals that return either by reflecting along multiple paths or by passing directly through the buildings.

Chris Philpot

An autonomous car needs to do many things to make the grade, but without a doubt, sensing and understanding its environment are the most critical. A self-driving vehicle must track and identify many objects and targets, whether they’re in clear view or hidden, whether the weather is fair or foul.

Today’s radar alone is nowhere near good enough to handle the entire job—cameras and lidars are also needed. But if we could make the most of radar’s particular strengths, we might dispense with at least some of those supplementary sensors.

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